Troy wide receiver Deondre Douglas focusing on a consistent senior campaign
TROY – Troy wide receiver Deondre Douglas experienced it all in 2017.
He had a newfound faith in Jesus Christ, breakout performances against New Mexico State and Akron and the game-winning touchdown that sealed the Sun Belt Conference championship against Arkansas State. On the flip side, he managed just six catches for 44 yards in games against Boise State, Alabama State and Georgia Southern.
It was a rather up-and-down year for the Bob Jones graduate, who was coming off a breakout sophomore campaign that earned him second-team all-Sun Belt honors in 2016. He managed to earn another second-team selection after leading the Trojans in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns last year, but Douglas is aiming for a more consistent – and better – campaign as a senior.
“My focus has been on consistency and bringing the same mindset every day,” he said after Monday’s practice.
Trojans head coach Neal Brown has noticed Douglas’ new approach in the offseason and believes it has paid dividends early in fall camp.
“Deondre Douglas had a great offseason. He did not have a good winter and summer a year ago,” he said. “He learned from that. He’s bounced back – had a great winter and a great summer – and he’s had a great fall camp.”
Brown said he stresses the importance of remaining consistent in all aspect of life, not just in football, as the key to success. He pointed to Douglas as a prime example.
“It all matters. If you’re inconsistent in other areas of your life, you’re going to be inconsistent on the field,” he said. “Nothing bad – he just wasn’t taking care of his body as good as he needs to. Now, I think over the last nine months or so, he’s made the necessary investment. Now he’s reaping the rewards.”
Trojans under the big, blazing light: The Trojans took to the field with an odd start time – between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. – on Monday. While it was an abbreviated practice, it potentially simulated the weather Troy will play in when it faces Nebraska and Liberty later this season.
The game at Nebraska is slated for an 11 a.m. kick, while the game at Liberty is set for a 1 p.m. start.
Brown said the practice served other purposes, including a recovery day after a rigorous Sunday workout.
“(We) let them sleep in today,” he said. “We try to, as a standard, not go more than three days hard in a row. You want to be fresh. What happens is when guys start getting fatigued, it’s when you start seeing the muscle injuries and things like that.”
Brown said the session allowed the Trojans to cover several game scenarios, like red zone situations.
“The thing I like about training camp is you can have them (around the facility) all day,” he said. “You can do a lot of teaching. I think that’s something we’ve done a good job over the last couple of years: end-of-game, end-of-half situations. We focused on a lot of those today.”
Breakout performances: Monday served as the fourth day of Trojan practices during training camp, and Brown said some players have already begun to surge following strong offseasons.
On offense he highlighted Douglas, fellow pass catchers Damion Willis and Sam Letton and running back B.J. Smith. Brown added Austin Stidham, the projected starter at left tackle, has shined as he seeks to replace Steven Rowzee.
“I think he looks like a Division I offensive lineman now,” Brown said. “He’s strong. He’s got more confidence in his abilities.”
On defense Brown noted defensive linemen Jarvis Hayes and Travon Mathis have emerged as playmakers. He added sophomore Terence Dunlap may push for a starting role in the secondary, while walk-on Carlton Martial would be the starting middle linebacker if the season opener with Boise State happened Tuesday.