12 Days From Football Game Night, Rams Looking Impressive

Aug. 14, 2004

Winston-Salem, NC - Many other college football teams are only beginning their 2004 fall training camps in preparation for the start of the college football season. However, the Rams of Winston-Salem State University are midway through training camp having completed 13 practices already, as they try to solidify preparations for their first game of the season versus Carson-Newman (August, 26th in Jefferson City, TN) which is only 12 short days away.

The Rams reported to camp on August 3rd, 2004 and have been practicing ever since. The first two days of practice saw the Rams don only their helmets, per new NCAA practice rules, with the third and fourth practices of the season being limited to only helmets and shells.

After the four mandated light practices, the Rams began full-equipment, full-contact practices on Monday, August 9th, 2004 and have been "full-go" ever since.

As of August 14th, 2004, the Rams currently had 127 players still participating in practices with plans to trim down the roster in the upcoming week of practice. WSSU has been lucky thus far, as they are virtually 100% healthy, with the exception of the occasional bump and bruise.

The only difficulty the Rams have had thus far in 2004 has been the weather. The pair of hurricanes that have hit the North Carolina coastline forced the Rams to abandon plans for an intra-squad scrimmage on Saturday afternoon, and left WSSU scrambling for the friendly confines of the Whitaker Gymnasium complex.

However, the Ram coaching staff announced that they will try to hold a small intra-squad scrimmage on Sunday, August 15th, 2004 at 7:30 am.

The Ram offense, which led the CIAA in 2003 in scoring, rushing offense, red-zone efficiency and four other statistical categories, has completed 13 practices virtually intact and unchanged from last season, with the exception of two offensive lineman and a center. However, a strong 2004 recruiting class and the ability to go to a very deep bench has shored up any offensive concerns that Ram coaches and fans could have.

The Rams return a trio of running backs with 1000 yard potential in senior Willie "Pedie" Byrd (1005 yards in 2002), junior Martin Hicks (1016 yards in 2003) and sophomore Jerrick "Jed" Bines (558 yards in 2003). The trio is once again sure to be the most prolific rushing threat in the CIAA as they look to lead the Rams to the 7th straight year of leading the conference in rushing offense.

The Rams are led by senior quarterback Josh McGee who will look to become WSSU's all time passing yardage leader in 2004 as he needs only 1019 yards to take over the mark currently held by former Ram Tory Woodbury.

The WSSU defense, which was very good against the run in 2003 returns with several key additions and looks to have returned to form as a unit that will pose a very real threat to any opponent that the Rams may face in 2004.





"Our first and second defensive units move as though they know exactly what we are trying to teach them, and trying to implement, in terms of our system. Of course there are still some technical issues that we are trying to work out, but that is to be expected when you are not even two weeks into practice."
WSSU Defensive Coordinator Gregory Richardson


Defensive lineman Anthony Robinson, who has led the Rams in tackles in both his freshman (2002) and sophomore (2003) seasons returns to the lineup a full 20 pounds heavier than last season after spending extensive time in the weight-room this past off-season. Checking in at 6'3" and 240 pounds, opponents will invariably run and throw the ball in the opposite direction of Robinson. However, he is not the only force on the Rams' defense. The Rams return preseason All-CIAA selections Phllip Betts and punter Chad Oakley as well. Dion Thompson will move back to his natural cornerback slot and will join Ray Barksdale in the Ram defensive backfield.

When asked to give his comments about how the Ram defense looks in 2004, WSSU Defensive Coordinator Gregory Richardson had the following comment:

"Our first and second defensive units move as though they know exactly what we are trying to teach them, and trying to implement, in terms of our system. Of course there are still some technical issues that we are trying to work out, but that is to be expected when you are not even two weeks into practice. However, we are more than pleased with the performance thus far, and are ecstatic about the pride and the work ethic the young men have exhibited. The attitude is great and if we continue to move along like we have been, then we are more than confident that this will be a very good defensive unit."

Fans will be able to get their first look at the Rams on Sunday, August 22nd, 2004 at Bowman-Gray Stadium when WSSU hosts "Meet the Rams Media Day" at 6:00 pm. Following "Meet The Rams", WSSU will have three more practices before departing for Jefferson City, TN to take on the Eagles of Carson-Newman. Game time is 6:00 pm on August 26th,

For more information on WSSU Football, or to arrange interviews with coaching staff or student-athletes, contact the WSSU Office of Sports Information at (336) 750-2143.

As well, check out pictures from WSSU's 10th practice of the season at the following link:

Photo Gallery From WSSU Football Practice #10