South Carolina State suited up in full gear for two hours with some contact Wednesday in a 9:30 a.m. session inside O.C. Dawson Stadium/Willie Jeffries Field.
Despite the dog-days-of-summer conditions, the Bulldogs showed plenty of enthusiasm during the installation phase of practice.
“We are in Day 5 of preseason camp and the main focus is getting these guys ready to play and acclimated to this type of weather conditions during the season,” Pough said. "During the spring, you have more cool days than hot ones, so now we have to prepare ourselves on what it will be like in September and October on a gameday.”
“It’s some guys that played in the spring that are really coming along, which makes the installation phase a little more relaxed,” Pough said. “During the spring, we didn’t have much depth on the defensive line and had to make some adjustments. Now we have about 14 players there, which gives you something more to work with during camp.”
Some veteran defensive linemen returning to guide the newcomers along will be redshirt junior Darrell Brown (6-2, 265) from Florence, junior Antonio Anderson (6-3, 250) from Hopkins and redshirt sophomore Shaheem Haltiwanger (6-3, 255).
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Newcomers looking to make their presence felt this season will be freshmen Timothy Shelton (6-1, 300) from Conway, Dajon Funderburk (6-2, 318) from Pageland, and Jared Kirksey (6-2, 268) out of Columbia.
Wednesday's morning session followed a Tuesday afternoon practice in hot and steamy conditions.
“We have had a good camp so far with all the guys out here ready to go and putting in the work that needs to be done,“ Pough said. “This camp will be a little different with most of the practices relaxed due to the fact we are coming off a strong spring season.”
The Bulldogs continued to work on the installation phase, adding some newcomers to the mix with a team that has a lot of stability on both sides of the ball.
South Carolina State has been known for producing great defensive players, with the addition of its recent and fourth NFL Hall of Famer in former Bulldog standout and All-Pro Donnie Shell. Along with the recent contract extension of former MEAC Defensive Player of the Year and All-American Darius Leonard, Pough seems to think this defense is special in its own way.
“Our secondary is really good and probably the best you’ve seen in a while with the return of players like All-American Decobie Durant (5-11, 180) out of Lamar, Zafir Kelly (6-1, 170) from Columbia, and Jalen Bar (5-11, 190) from Lake City, just to name a few,“ Pough said. “Durant is a player who has some mental toughness and is a really smart player. You can count on seeing him at the next level.”
The Bulldogs resume preseason drills on Thursday at 2:30 p.m., with a morning workout set for Friday, Aug.13, at 9:30 a.m.
S.C. State will hold Media/Picture Day Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. The annual "Meet the Players Day/Fan Fest," hosted by The S.T.A.T.E Club, is set for Saturday, Aug. 21, at noon.
The Bulldogs open their season on the road against SWAC foe Alabama A&M on Saturday Sept. 4, at Louis Crews Stadium in Huntsville, Alabama, at 7 p.m. The preseason Boxtorow HBCU poll has Alabama A&M ranked No. 1 and S.C. State tied for No. 4.
Season tickets for South Carolina State's four-game home schedule remain available. Reserved seating is available and may be purchased by contacting the S.C. State Ticket Office by phone at 803-536-8579 or online at www.scsuathletics.com.
“We are in Day 5 of preseason camp and the main focus is getting these guys ready to play and acclimated to this type of weather conditions during the season."
S.C. State head coach Buddy Pough