JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Spring football this year is quite a bit different at Edward Waters.
Normally, spring football is all about practice and preparing for the fall, but in 2021 the Tigers are preparing for their regular season … in February.
They are also preparing to open play at their brand new football facility.
That’s a lot of ground for the Tigers to cover. But coach Greg Ruffin said that EWC is more than ready. EWC’s opener at Jackson State and new coach Deion Sanders is Feb. 21. The remainder of the Tigers’ schedule, including their home opener, hasn’t yet been announced.
“I think we are 33 or 34 days out and that is more than enough time,” he said.
When the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 fall season for many smaller colleges, some decided to push those into the early part of 2021. The Tigers were one of those schools.
It has been a long time since the Tigers were last out on the football field. COVID-19 not only canceled fall football for the Tigers in 2020, but it scrapped the team’s traditional spring football workouts, too. So, many of the Tigers players haven’t put on a helmet in almost a year.
“Guys are excited, you know. You are seeing them fly around a little bit more and attitude is at an all-time high,” Ruffin said. “We will be on Day 5 [Tuesday night] and we will be raring and ready to go.”
With only about a month before the Tigers’ first game, EWC doesn’t have a lot of time to prepare for kickoff, but Ruffin said he is approaching this season just like he would any other because everyone is dealing with the same things.
“They didn’t have spring football either, every football team’s playing in the spring. We are all playing by the same rules,” he said.
When the Tigers do hit the field for their first game they will take be taking on Jackson State. That will get a lot of attention because NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders will be coaching on the other sideline in his college debut.
“He is not going to play a snap and that is the one thing I try not to get into, making this about Deion Sanders,” Ruffin said. “A lot has been said about what they have done in the recruiting process. … they’re not doing anything that hasn’t been done before.
“It is just getting a lot of emphasis on it because Coach Prime is there. It ain’t going to be about Coach Prime. It ain’t going to be about Coach Ruffin. It will be about Edward Waters and Jackson State.”