WSSU football first practice

Coach Robert Massey of WSSU gave his players two days off as they began classes this week.

Winston-Salem State’s football team will settle into a routine this week now that classes have started.

Robert Massey, the interim head coach, said he was encouraged about the first week of practices but realizes there was a sense of excitement with the opening week.

“Really, now the hard part comes because they have settled in and with school starting there’s a lot more for them to be concerned about,” Massey said. “But that’s good, because this is what they are here for — to get an education and we want them to be fresh as they all get into their routines of going to class.”

To ease the transition, Massey and his coaching staff let the Rams have Sunday and Monday off. And because of the heat index, the team’s practice was moved to Tuesday night.

“We gave them some time off, and with us moving practice to later that gives them some more time to heal up any bumps and bruises,” Massey said.

Massey said they will watch the heat index the rest of the week to determine when practices will be held, but he’s hoping to settle into the 3:30 time slot.

“We are still a few days until that Sept. 5 game (at UNC Pembroke) so we aren’t in game-week mode just yet,” Massey said. “I like where the offense is, and our defense is flying around the ball pretty well, so we’ve seen a lot of positives through this first week.”

Massey says the only serious injury came to backup fullback Reggie Caldwell, a sophomore from Glenn High School, who suffered a ankle injury that will keep him out for awhile.

“I feel bad for Reggie, but we think he’s going to be OK and can come back and help us at some point,” Massey said.

Among the players who have stood out through the first week of camp is defensive back Jalen Weddington, a freshman from Charlotte. Even though the Rams have talent at defensive back in safety Daryus Skinner, who had 11 interceptions in nine games last season and is a candidate for CIAA defensive player of the year, Massey has liked the competition in practice.

“Everybody is competing for jobs and that’s what you want in these early-season practices,” Massey said.

The Rams’ biggest losses from a year ago came at defensive line, which saw four starters exhaust their eligibility, but Massey says freshman Jordan Horn, who is from Winston-Salem, and senior Duvall Lowery have been making an impression so far.

The Rams will have their first scrimmage on Friday at 6 p.m. with CIAA officials coming to help control the game-like conditions.

“That’s a good thing when the CIAA has their officials come talk with our guys and they can explain rule changes and what they expect,” Massey said. “It will be good experience for our guys with officials there so we can focus on good techniques for everything we do.”

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