Editor's note: This is the first in a series of articles concerning preparations for preseason football workouts at Northeastern A&M College.
Depending on the availability of equipment and practice facilities following the July 4th flood that inundated the entire Golden Norse football venue, head coach Rob Green and his staff expect more than 120 prospects for the Aug. 7 report date.
Extensive flooding hit the football practice field, football fieldhouse and Robertson Field as well as the softball and baseball fields.
“We are going to be fine,” Green said. “We are in the process of evaluating the things that we need to get practice under way. It's unimaginable, the magnitude of the damage.
“Our biggest concerns are with the people of Miami who are homeless and stranded,” Green said. “Our administration has a plan and a course to take. There is no quick fix, though.”
Last season, the Golden Norsemen finished tied for second in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference with a 3-3 record. Although the Norsemen actually posted a 5-4 season mark, the use of an ineligible player resulted in an official 3-6 record.
NEO suffered a 14-12 loss to Kilgore, Texas, in the post season conference semifinal.
While Green serves as offensive coordinator, other members of the coaching staff are Kyle Woods, running backs; Donnie Bigby, offensive line; J. Dee Marinko, wide receivers; Travis Rhatigan, defensive coordinator and Jared Green, defensive line.
“Though out the spring, we were working real hard to develop leadership qualities in our sophomores that were starters last year,” Green said. “It's tough to accomplish this at the junior college level because most of these guys are only here for three semesters.
“During the spring you can really get a lot of teaching done because you're not really preparing for an opponent,” Green said. “So we spent a lot of time going over things that will really help us when we start preseason in the fall.”
Approximately 55 players participated in spring drills. Fourteen of that group either started or saw considerable playing time on the offensive side of the football.
“We're excited about the fact that we have that much experience coming back on offense,” Green said. “We've got depth at all of the skill positions which means that we didn't have to spend a whole lot of time going over things.
“It's amazing to see how these freshmen have developed after a year in the program,” Green said. “Not only have they grown physically, but mentally and emotionally they have a lot better grasp of how to play at this level.”
Four prospective starters, including three offensive linemen, missed most of the spring workouts.
Tight ends Tommy Fizgerald (6-2, 225 of Ardmore) and Bishop Stewart (6-2, 230 of Smryra, Ga.), along with offensive center Devin Frazier (6-1, 286 of Yukon), are expected to return for the fall preseason.
Linebacker Logan Zabel (6-3, 210, of Miami) has undergone three surgeries since starting last season.
“These four players are projected starters,” Green said. “They've been working real hard to rehab and all should be ready to go in the fall.
“We've got good skill people coming back which should enhance our offensive production,” Green said. “We will still strive to have a balance between our running and passing games. We don't want to be one-dimensional.
With starter Bo Bowling and veteran Kaelin Woods returning at the controls of the Golden Norse offense, Green is excited about the offense as quarterback coach.
Bowling (5-10, 205, of Tonkawa) moved into the starting quarterback spot the final four games last season after Blake Byford was moved to tight end.
Before making the switch, Bowling recorded four kickoff returns for 32 yards and made seven solo tackles and six assists as a reserve cornerback.