TALLAHASSEE, FL — Someone forgot to tell Florida A&M wide receiver Xavier Smith that the season hasn’t officially started. The senior All-American was in mid-season form making plays all over the field during Saturday’s intra-squad scrimmage. He was airborne catching passes over the middle and running virtually unguardable routes in front of his teammates, select fans and NFL scouts including the Oakland Raiders.
The scrimmage from the onset was dominated by the Rattler defense. Head coach Willie Simmons hopes this talented group could be as dominant as last year’s Top 10 defense.
“I thought the defense started really really fast,” Simmons said. “At the beginning of the scrimmage there were a lot of three-and-outs, high-intensity plays and tackles-for-loss like they’ve been doing for the last few seasons. It’s good to see them continue to do that.”Defense sharp as camp moves forward
FAMU’s defensive line and linebacking crops were fast to the ball. The secondary, anchored by preseason All-SWAC defensive back DJ Bohler, was stingy. A steady rotation of linebackers and defensive backs displayed the depth to which the defense has built up since last season.
Offensively, Jeremy Moussa ran with the first-team offense for most of the scrimmage as first-string quarterback Rasean McKay took the scrimmage off to allow Simmons and staff to evaluate the stable of backups. Resdhirt sophomore Cameron Sapp also had a solid scrimmage. His accuracy was on display in a couple of scoring drives. Junior Muratovic, Jacory Jordan and Trey Fisher all got snaps on Saturday.
Simmons says he is pleased with the emerging escalation in quarterback play.
“I thought once we got settled in and got the ball closer to the endzone…we were able to put some touchdowns together. It was good to see the big play-making ability that we have. Once the quarterbacks got settled down they made some throws,” said Simmons.FAMU All-American Xavier Smith went airborne to catch this pass.
Smith would catch a short route and use his explosive speed to weave through the secondary for a touchdown in one of the aforementioned big plays. Smith would come back on the next drive and make an over-the-shoulder catch amid three defenders. It was vintage “Zay” and it excited the Rattler sideline.
Florida A&M running back Terrell Jennings continues to excel at RB1. He shaped his large physique to a more streamlined look without losing too much mass. What has resulted is a much more confident Jennings that appears to be ready to have his breakout season. The offense successfully established the run game which opened up passing lanes in 2021.Head coach Willie Simmons is turning his attention away from camp and toward UNC. FAMU turning attention to Power 5 season opener
Simmons is zoning on FAMU’s season opener against the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC.
“Now that we’re done with our scrimmages the focus now is to try to solidify who the travel squad will be and getting those guys prepared,” Simmons said. “We have a few more days of training camp, but our focus is shifting to North Carolina.”
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Rajah Caruth is all about winning, but dominating in NASCAR doesn’t happen overnight. Despite finishing off the lead lap in his second ever Camping World Truck Series race, there were some positives to take away from Saturday’s race in Richmond.
Caruth showed that he was capable of putting together great speed in his truck over the weekend. He was fifth quickest in Saturday afternoon’s practice session before qualifying. During his two qualifying laps he didn’t match the same speed but he understood why. After ultimately qualifying 28th, Caruth acknowledged that he didn’t clean his rear tires off good on the track which caused him to lose traction exiting one of the corners. That slight hiccup put him in the middle of the pack to start Saturday night’s race. Understanding one’s mistakes and the relation to the accompanying results is gainful experience and insight.
Even though Caruth went down a lap during the first stage of the race he still advanced his position during the night. Caruth finished 25th, three spots ahead of his starting place. This wasn’t a race of attrition either. There was only one caution during the entire race outside of the two stage breaks during the event. So he didn’t advance positions simply because other trucks crashed and couldn’t finish, he had to race for position on every single lap.The No. 7 Chevrolet driven by Caruth during Saturday’s race at Richmond.
During the last stage of the race, on that sole caution during green flag action, Caruth picked up a pit road penalty. It’s that type of experience that the racing community often discusses when they say “turning laps.” Caruth’s full-time circuit, the ARCA Menard’s Series, doesn’t employ competitive pit stops. It simply requires teams to have race breaks under caution, giving each team a nearly free pass to adjust the car minus any pressure. Understanding what works and what doesn’t during a live pitstop in the top three series is a valuable moment for the young driver he might appreciate later.
While Caruth finished three laps down to race winner Chandler Smith, there were only 14 trucks on the lead lap at the checkered flag. A short track race that stays green virtually the entire race can be rough on the field and Saturday night was no exception. With two truck races to his credit in his young career, Caruth has shown that he can finish the race and finish better than he started. In St. Louis he finished in 11th place after a strong rally to close the race.
It was also a great day for the culture as the No. 7 Chevrolet sported decals from Virginia State University, Winston-Salem State University and HBCU Gameday. The WSSU junior, along with his father Dr. Roger Caruth, are adamant about showcasing HBCUs within the space.
With more experience and more laps in the future for Rajah Caruth, the best is yet to come.
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