BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Grunts and snarls carried throughout the Southern University practice facility early Thursday morning, as the Jaguars participated and ground through another grueling conditioning workout.
Players sprinted towards and shuffled their way around cones, as dew flew into the air from the damp grass. The focus was agilities and change of direction. The quest for back-to-back SWAC Championships is more than underway on The Bluff.
"I've been doing this for 20 years," said Corliss Fingers, Southern's strength and conditioning coach. "Very rarely have I had a team repeat. It's so much harder to repeat. It is SO MUCH HARDER to repeat. Guys get comfortable."
But, she's hardly accepting that as this team's fate.
"I told them, 'Don't be that team that can't repeat.'"
A core group of about 70 players lift weights at 5:30 a.m. four times a week, followed shortly after with running. A smaller group follows at 11 a.m. for a grand total of 100 to 105 players participating on a regular basis. Fingers, not surprisingly, said success on the field is in direct correlation to offseason effort.
"My first year here, we had about 30 guys here during the summer and about 17 guys come on a regular basis. And, we won four games. Last year, we had 77 guys here and about 25 came every single workout. Forty-five only missed one workout. And, we end up winning," she added.
Indeed, Southern finished with a record of 9-4 overall. The Jaguars clinched their conference championship in Houston, with a 34-27 double overtime triumph over Jackson State.
So, are the workouts mandatory? Well, let's put it this way.
"If they're in school, on scholarship, and we're paying them to be here over the summer, we're going to get our money's worth," Fingers explained.
The Jaguars report to fall camp on July 31, according to Fingers. They will begin practice shortly after that. The team's season opener is on August 30 at UL-Lafayette.