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Alcorn St. set for new season after long layoff

Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 10:16 PM CDT
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LORMAN, Miss. (WLBT) - Remember Alcorn State?

It has been 20 months since the last time the Braves played a football game, so with everything else going on in the world, it would be pretty easy for them to fall victim to an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ situation. However, the 2019 SWAC champions – the last team to win the conference in a regular fall season – are now mere days from making their triumphant return to the football and are ready to jog the memories of those who may have forgotten them.

“Every night I’ve been thinking about how I just can’t wait to go an hit somebody,” said ASU senior defensive back and Provine-alum Juwan Taylor. “We have a big chip on our shoulder. We see that teams have forgotten who we are and what we can do. That’s ok, because the pads are on and the season is starting shortly and we can show everybody then.”

Back in 2020, the SWAC was at the forefront of staying one step ahead when it came to navigating a pandemic and a football season, opting to move its season from the fall to the spring. Alcorn State originally had every intention of playing that schedule then, however complications with COVID-19 forced the program’s hand in opting out of the season in favor of just going through an otherwise regular spring practice.

So it was a bit odd for the Braves watching Alabama A&M lift the SWAC championship trophy last March without have a chance to properly defend their title.

“Not taking away from Alabama A&M,” said Alcorn St. head coach Fred McNair, “They played in the spring, they won the championships and they deserved it. But these young men know that the last time we were on the field we hoisted the SWAC championship trophy and that’s what we want to get back to.”

McNair’s Braves have a solid foundation to get back to just that, starting with the return of senior quarterback Felix Harper.

Barring any setbacks, this season will be the first time that Harper ever starts the first game on the schedule, having been thrust into the starting quarterback job due to injury early in 2019 and never looked back. He finished with 2.954 passing yards and 33 touchdowns, capping it off with a 341-yard, three touchdown showing in the Braves’ Celebration Loss to North Carolina A&T.

Harper was named the SWAC Offensive Player of the Year that season and received the same preseason honors last spring before ASU opted out. So, he more than anyone, is chomping at the bit to get back on the field and pick up right where he left off.

“We’re ready for this season man,” said Harper. “It was kind of tough to sit out and watching those teams compete every Saturday because this is the game we love.

“Right now, we are very well-prepared and ready to get this game going. We’ve been working day in and day out.”

With just one more week of fall camp to go, it won’t be long before Harper and Alcorn State finally get to lineup across from another team that is not wearing purple and gold. The Braves open the 2021 season on August 28 against North Carolina Central in Atlanta, GA as part of the SWAC/MEAC Challenge.

Kick-off is set for 6 p.m. and ESPN College Gameday will be live from the game that morning.

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