Courtesy of Brian Howard, Asst. AD/Communications, Norfolk State Athletics
Norfolk State University head football coach Dawson Odums saw his team complete its first week of Fall Camp on Tuesday morning inside William “Dick” Price Stadium.
“We did some good things, and we did some bad things, but that’s camp,” Odums said. “I thought the effort was great, the attention to detail was there after four practices. Now we get into that second week, and this is where camp is the most challenging.”
Odums recognized the program was not as sharp as he would have liked during Tuesday’s practice but said the coaching staff will be adding additional plays as NSU will close out the week with a scrimmage.
The Spartans, picked to finish fifth in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) predicted order of finish, had 110 student-athletes report to camp. Not only are some of the players new, but Norfolk State welcomes five coaches to the program, including offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ray Pickering.
Pickering came to NSU from the University of Texas. Joining Pickering as newcomers to the coaching staff are Lamont Butler(defensive line), Kevin Weston (linebackers),Frank Wilson Jr. (cornerbacks) and Shawn Thomas (special teams assistant).
“It’s all about giving people chances and opportunities,” Odums said. “Life is about chance and a lot of times we never know who the great one is going to be because we didn’t give them a chance. I always look at that in coaching.”
“He (Pickering) brings a lot of juice and a lot of fire. He demands the expectation of excellence. I think it has to be like that if you want to be a great coach. You have to demand and expect your players to play at a level of excellence that is second to none.”
The Spartans’ depth at some of the skill positions has led to several key preseason battles, including at quarterback.
“They can play,” Odums said about the quarterbacks. “Their decision making on every snap is not where we want it to be right now, but it is trending in the right direction, yes. The attention to detail in that room is where you don’t see them making the same mistakes over again and continuing to grow in the position.
We’re excited about that room and whoever we decide is going to be the starter, not only will they be the starter, but they will have the tools to be a really good quarterback.”
Odums was quick not to name a starter and said the competition between all quarterbacks is wide open as the Spartans head into their first scrimmage, which is Saturday at Dick Price Stadium.
Norfolk State opens the season at home on Sept. 2 against Virginia State and follows that with another rivalry game the following week – Battle of the Bay – at Hampton on Sept. 9.
The Spartans conclude the first month of the season at Dick Price Stadium on Sept. 30 versus North Carolina A&T State. The Spartans’ homecoming game is Oct. 28 against Morgan State and the team concludes the regular season on Nov. 18 versus South Carolina State.
“We got a schedule that is not as challenging as the year before,” Odums said. “Last year we opened up with some really, really good football teams that beat us up. It took a lot for us to overcome that and lost some key players because of injuries.
“It’s always great when you play those local rivalries. We have two (rivalry games) to open the season with Virginia State and Hampton. It is great for the state of Virginia and we’re looking forward to a great atmosphere.”
All home games are scheduled for a 2 p.m. start.
Tickets for the upcoming season are now on sale and can be purchased through the NSU Ticket Office at: NSUSpartansTickets.UniversityTickets.com or by visiting the ticket office Monday-Friday (9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.)