Depth no longer an issue as Grambling opens preseason

An acute lack of depth was tremendously detrimental to Grambling’s football team in the abbreviated spring 2021 season.

As the Tigers kicked off preseason practice Saturday morning, depth is not a problem any longer. In fact, says veteran coach Broderick Fobbs, it’s a strength.

Fobbs was confident at the outset of the spring season that his roster entering fall would be much stronger than it was in the spring, and nothing happened during the frustration-filled first four months of 2021 to change that.

Not even an 0-4 record, a complete makeover of the offensive staff during and after the season, and some player departures.

Even having depth problems tthen now becomes a positive, he said last week on The Patrick Netherton Show on 1130 The Tiger KWKH radio in Shreveport.

“There are some good things that came out of the spring. We got some game experience for guys who wouldn’t ordinarily have gotten the opportunity to play, and that created some confidence for them,” said Fobbs.

A unique combination of issues created by the pandemic put the G-Men in a pinch with roster management.

“A lot has happened in the last couple of years. In March 2020, we felt going into spring practice we were going to have been one of the more talented teams since we’ve been here, but then things shut down, kids went home, and we didn’t have constant contact and oversight,” said Fobbs. “We wound up with 8-9 guys on the offensive line who entered the transfer portal.

“At the same time, because of NCAA restrictions related to the pandemic, we were unable to go off campus and recruit. Our program is built on relationships and looking eye to eye and being sure it’s the right fit, and that wasn’t possible. We wound up with a team that was very, very young and very vulnerable, and then you add the complications of COVID issues, you become a really thin team,” he said.

That caught up with the Tigers in the spring after two one-score losses, and a third game that got out of hand after halftime against UAPB.

“We had a chance in two-and-a-half games to win, and that says a lot (considering the personnel issues),” said Fobbs. “Since that time, we’ve been able to replenish, get our players in here, and get offensive linemen. Truth be told, every student-athlete we’ve been able to bring in is a lot better than the one he replaced. That gives us the opportunity to be an exceptional football program and an exceptional coaching staff.”

A local Tiger could shine to ramp up a struggling offense: Arcadia running back C.J. Russell, who Fobbs said “will light up the league.” Elijah Walker finished the spring as the starter and will be the trigger to the Grambling offense this fall, but it may be impossible to deny playing time to four-star recruit Noah Bolden, a signee from New York City.

“Our job now is to get them playing hard and fast, but also get them to Saturdays healthy. If we can do that and play the game the right way and execute the plan, we feel really good about our team,” said Fobbs.”

The Tigers will take off Sunday during fall camp and will have evening practices Monday through Wednesday and morning practices Thursday through Saturday.

The fall camp is closed to the public.

Grambling opens the 2021 season on Sunday, Sept. 5 against Tennessee State in the Black College Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.