With players wearing masks and doing their best to remain distant, SUSLA Football held their first try-out since the start of the pandemic.
Players from Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas traveled to Evangel High School for an opportunity to show what they can do in front of Head Coach Danny Palmer and his staff.
The key word in all of this? Opportunity.
“When I heard about somewhere closer like this that can really give guys a chance in this area to grow, I had to come,” says Keon Coleman, who graduated from Benton in 2015 and played collegiately at Southern Arkansas for two years before straying away from football. “Maybe you don’t get that D1 offer, that DII offer, but you got an opportunity to keep playing football in this area and grow and then play somewhere else. I just had to jump on it.”
While today was about seeing what these players could do on the field, SUSLA Football CEO Lalita Jenkins makes it clear that in order to be a part of the program, you’ve got to have a plan beyond football.
“We ask these kids, ‘whats the plan?’ And they can’t say football. It makes them think,” says Jenkins. “This is about putting these kids on a path to walking out of here with an associates degree, and hopefully they can continue playing, but if not, they have a purpose and a future off the field.”
For some, football can be something that helps motivate off the field. That’s exactly the case for C.E. Byrd grad and prospective Jaguar, Jayden Durden.
“One of the things I miss is just having football to keep me focused,” says Durden. “Once I stopped playing football, it wasn’t really good, but since its coming back I gotta at least try before I give up.”
According to Coach Palmer, there are plans to have at least one more tryout before the end of the summer.