SCULPTING A WINNER
Santa Claus supposedly can tell if kids have been naughty or nice, and N.C. Central coach Henry Frazier III, likewise, knows who has been sprinting, and he knows who’s lifted weights for the sake of the upcoming football season.
“My whole thing is I look at bodies,” Frazier said after NCCU wrapped up its first day of spring football practice on campus at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium Tuesday. “Your body should change shape if you’re working hard.
“You want to look like a football player. You want to start looking like a Division I player.”
NCCU is coming off of its first winning season since 2007, finishing 6-2 in 2012, 5-3 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
The Eagles were in the hunt for a conference championship a year ago before losing steam toward the end of the season. When the smoke cleared, Bethune-Cookman went undefeated in the MEAC to win the title and a berth in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
That’s where NCCU belongs, Frazier said.
“Our goal is to win the conference championship,” Frazier said. “There’s no question about it. It’s no secret. That’s our goal.”
The Eagles will spend the next four weeks putting in the work required to get there, Frazier said.
NCCU will wrap up spring ball with a 6 p.m. team scrimmage April 12 at O’Kelly-Riddick. The Eagles’ first game of the season is against Duke on Aug. 31 in the Bull City Gridiron Classic at Wallace Wade Stadium.
The only way the Eagles will do better than they did last season is if the team does more, and that starts now with extra running, extra weightlifting, extra everything, Frazier said.
Day 1 went well, and that was largely due to the continuity in the program created by the absence of revolving doors on the coaches’ offices, Frazier said.
“Definitely thumbs up,” Frazier said. “Familiarity was out there in the air. Consistency with the coaches. Same language. Same schemes.”
Guys have the upcoming summer to continue to get even stronger and more agile, Frazier said. Spring ball is the time for the Eagles to reacquaint themselves with good technique, a time to get acclimated with their assignments on the field, Frazier said.
“A guy could be fast, but if he doesn’t know where he’s going, he’s just going to get to the wrong place faster than the next guy,” Frazier said. “If you don’t know where you’re going, it really doesn’t help the team.”
NCCU senior Charles Goodwin said coaching continuity helps a 6-foot-6 offensive lineman like him know exactly what he’s supposed to be doing between the lines.
“Everybody coaches differently,” Goodwin said. “It helps guys play faster.”
A lot of the teaching the coaches will do during spring ball will be review, but there’s no such thing as too many reps, Goodwin explained.
“Repetition makes perfect,” Goodwin said. “Everybody knows what to do, but you can always get better.
“It’s perfecting our craft.”
Goodwin didn’t wait until spring ball to start getting his body right. Just look at him, Frazier said.
“He looks good,” Frazier said.
Goodwin — Frazier on Tuesday was calling him Big Slim — played at 285 pounds last season, and it’s not like he was fat.
“He’s a physical specimen already,” Frazier said. “He’s dropped a couple of pounds. I expect him to be a force in the next year for us.”
Today is Frazier’s 45th birthday. He’s been working on his body, too, but said he may treat himself during lunch.
“I think I’m going to eat a piece of cake,” Frazier said. “I’ve been doing pretty good with the sweets. I might get myself a piece of cheesecake.”
NCCU senior linebacker Tazmon Foster had something sweeter in mind.
“Trying to chase that MEAC championship,” Foster said.