Tigers in good shape offensively
Published 12:58 am Wednesday, August 26, 2020
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Royce White, a senior offensive lineman on the Troup High football team, has made the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Class AAAA preseason all-state team.
White, who has committed to the University of Memphis, is the only player from Troup or LaGrange to earn a spot on the team.
White is in select company, since only five offensive linemen earned a spot on the all-state team.
One of the other offensive linemen who was honored, Carver’s Elijah Pritchett, is in Region 5-AAAA along with Troup.
White had already made the Maxpreps.com and Recruit Georgia preseason all-state teams, and he also made the AJC’s all-state team following a successful 2019 season.
White is a part of an offensive line that is expected to be a strength of the team.
White, Will Cooley and Braxton Truitt are returning starters, and Demetrius Heard and Bryson Williams are expected to move into the lineup.
White is the most highly-recruited player on the Troup offensive line, and he decided earlier this year that Memphis was the right fit for him.
“I talked to all the coaches, and every single person I talked to I clicked with right away,” White said. “I just knew. It felt like home.”
As for this season, White believes “our offensive line is going to be really good. We lost our right tackle, Michael Irvin, but everybody else is coming back next year.”
Cooley, who returns as Troup’s starting center, is also confident in the ability of the offensive line to get the job done.
“Losing Michael Irvin is a big deal for us, but we’ve hit the ground running,” Cooley said. “That relationship we have (on the offensive line) comes with experience.”
Cooley broke into the starting lineup when Phillip Manning was the offensive-line coach, and Connor McNamee has held that position for the past two years.
“As a whole offensive line, we try to maul people every play,” Cooley said. “Coach Manning really instilled that, and I try to bring that every day for the whole offensive line.”
Of those five linemen, three of them are seniors and two are juniors, and head coach Tanner Glisson is glad to have that experience up front considering freshman Taeo Todd will likely be the starting quarterback for the season opener at Harris County on Sept. 4.
Fellow freshman Jeff Davis was also in the mix to be Troup’s starting quarterback, but he has left the school and has transferred to Griffin High.
Todd will not only have a veteran offensive line in front of him, but Troup also has experienced players at the running back and wide receiver positions.
“If we were having to break in a new offensive line and a new quarterback, I think we’d have lost our mind by now,” Glisson said earlier this summer. “Having that offensive line back is a big deal, and we’ve got experienced running backs.”
One of those running backs, senior Anthony Ferguson, transferred from Manchester after running for nearly 3,000 yards the past two seasons, while fellow senior Navontae Moss did well while backing up Trey Williams last year.
Sophomore A.J. Tucker, who was one of Troup’s top defensive player last season as a linebacker, will also play running back.
“Those guys are coming along and progressing really well, and they’ve got a chance to be really good,” Glisson said. “(Moss is) a downhill guy, so there’s a difference between him and Ferguson,” Glisson said. “They both bring something different to the table, so that’s good.”
All of the running backs have also been focusing on catching the ball with position coach J.C. Copeland.
“That’s probably what JC’s working the hardest with them right now is catching the ball out of the backfield,” Glisson said. “Here at this level, and when you go to the next level, you’ve got to be able to catch the ball out of the backfield.”
Troup also has two veteran wide receivers returning in Marquavious Kelley and Zy Varner.
Kelley was in the mix to be Troup’s quarterback, but he’s incredibly valuable with his ability to beat defenses with his speed.
“We don’t have a lot of guys that can bust the top end open like he can,” Glisson said.
For the second straight season, Troup’s offense will be led by offensive coordinator Paul Brewer, who was elevated to that position after coaching the quarterbacks in previous years.
With Brewer back and with so many experienced players on offense, Glisson is confident in where the offense stands.
“Coach Brewer has been with me since the day I got here, so that’s gone really well,” Glisson said. “I think we’re light years ahead of where we were last year, even without a spring practice.”