Troy University’s new head football coach, Neal Brown, said his team is preparing for the 2015 season by working on physical and mental toughness, discipline, confidence and accountability.
“We’ve got to get bigger and stronger,” Brown said. “That’s our No. 1 emphasis.”
Brown succeeded coach Larry Blakeney, whose record was 178-113-1 in his 24 seasons at Troy. Blakeney retired after the 2014 season, in which the Trojans won three games and lost nine.
Brown is Troy’s 21st head coach. At 35, he is the second-youngest head coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision. He previously served as Troy’s offensive coordinator, and was offensive coordinator for Kentucky before returning to Troy.
Brown said he considers building relationships with the players to be a vital element.
“Get to know them not only as a football player, but also as a student,” he said.
Brown said he is responsible for developing men, graduating players and winning games.
“I want guys that will represent our football program the right way, and will be leaders on campus and take initiative in our community,” he said.
He said the walk-on athletic program has been a success and will play an important role this year. He described walk-on players as the glue that holds the whole team together.
Bryan Holmes, who will be a senior in the fall, majoring in criminal justice, from Lake Butler, Florida, said he is looking forward to the players performing better individually as well as more as a team.
“Students and other fans can expect the team to win more games this season, and players to be more into the game rather than having a dead attitude,” Holmes said.
“Last year was bad, but we are learning from that season. All we can do now is get better and win games.”
The season will open Sept. 5 at North Carolina State. The first home game will be Sept. 12 against Charleston Southern.
In addition to football, Troy competes in baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, cross country, men’s and women’s golf, soccer, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, track and field, and volleyball.
“The volleyball program is also working toward winning more games and having a successful and exciting season,” said assistant coach Lizzie Clough.
Clough, a graduate student majoring in athletic administration from Mobile, Alabama, said the players are athletic and determined.
Clough was a player before she began coaching. She worked her way up from student assistant, to accepting the job of assistant coach in the summer of 2015.
“As a program we always try to hold ourselves at a high standard and a certain amount of athleticism out of each player,” she said.
“As a player, you are focused on your individual job to perform, but as a coach, you’re focused on helping the team perform.”