Tallahassee, FL - Joe Taylor heard the echoes coming out of the locker room. The FAMU Head Football Coach liked what he was hearing on the first day of spring practice.
"They were yelling 17," Taylor said. "17 points. We lost to Hampton by six, Howard by 1 and Bethune by 10. They want to remove the 17."
Those numbers that represent FAMU's margin of defeat may be a source of motivation for many of teams, but not the Rattlers.
"The true motivation is within internally," senior linebacker Brandon Hepburn said. "I mean we gotta find our identity out here as a team. So last year's past we can't worry about that."
Part of that identity will go through sophomore quarterback Damien Fleming, who took over the starting job last season. Fleming played in nine games, throwing for 1,622 yards with 11 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions.
In his first Spring mini-camp, Fleming isn't thinking about himself.
"Become better as a whole unit," he said responding to what their goal will be at the end of the Spring. "We must become better with leadership and as a team. To win we must do those things."
Taylor says he has already seen those things.
"The upperclassmen they're of course with the younger guys and are really doing some good things in terms of leading by example," he said.
"The year before last we won a championship and last year we didn't make the playoffs," senior offensive tackle Robert Hartley said. "Football is a game of inches and that's what we lost last year was in the inches."
Taylor hopes to find 11 guys on offense, 11 guys on defense and an additional 11 "core" guys by the end of the spring. But, realistically, he knows there will be holes to fill until the Fall comes around.