ROCKINGHAM — Led by the rising senior class and the team’s leadership council, the Richmond football team proved over the past two weeks just how hard its willing to work in preparation for the 2018 season.
Head coach Bryan Till said the Raiders “set a different standard” than the one he had originally hoped for when spring practice began last Monday, but the foundation that was laid in terms of players putting forth the necessary effort and knowing how to conduct themselves made him proud once practice wrapped up on Friday.
“The thing I love about this group is they’re willing to do the work,” Till said. “They’re willing to be coached, listen and get better at whatever we asked them to do. That’s huge.
“I thought the guys did a good job of a lot of things, but we definitely need the summer to continue to improve on that.”
The biggest news coming out of spring practice involves junior wideout Malik Stanback.
In two weeks, Stanback — who finished with 35 receptions, 751 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns and an all-conference selection in 2017 — has racked up three Division I college scholarship offers.
He received his first offer from Old Dominion University (Va.) last Tuesday, a day after a scout from East Carolina University came to watch him practice. The Citadel (S.C.) offered last Saturday and Wofford College (S.C.) put in its bid on Thursday.
“I’m excited,” Stanback said with a smile, “but all this does is push me to do better because I’m never satisfied until I’m the best (wide receiver).”
Despite the constant rainfall throughout the two-week period, Till says the team only missed “about 30 minutes of practice time.”
The Raiders were forced off the field a little earlier than usual on Wednesday after a lightning strike hit nearby, but that happened as the day was coming to an end. Even when they were confined to the gym last Friday, there were still two solid hours of work that included watching video from the week’s sessions.
“Now we were wet, I’m not going to lie about that, but we were comfortable,” Till said with a laugh. “We used the old balls (on Wednesday) and I thought we still got a lot out of them.”
At the end of every practice these past couple of weeks, a member from the 11-man leadership council stood in front of the team and gave a brief speech on a particular topic. Sophomore defensive lineman Joerail White closed out Friday’s session talking about what it means to be an enforcer when it comes to holding teammates accountable.
His message: Enforcing doesn’t mean talking down to one another but confronting with the purpose of helping correct whatever mistake has been or was being made.
“We’ve been able to put these guys in situations where they’ve got to speak in front of their teammates … and here and there, the responses afterwards have been ‘I didn’t realize it was going to be like that,’” Till said of the players’ reaction to having to talk in front of the large group. “So I hope it helped them grow and learn that much more about what it takes to be a leader and applying what they learned in the leadership council training.”
The Raiders have the next two weeks off before summer workouts begin on Monday, June 11.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.