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PRCC football losing out on spring practice

Seth Smith was a couple months into the start of his career as the head coach of the football program for the Pearl River Community College Wildcats when everything was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The call came from the NJCAA while the team was in the midst of its offseason program.

The offseason is a critical part of a team’s development, even more so in the spring for football programs.

For a couple of weeks the pads come back out and coaches begin working with athletes in game like situations.

Learning new offensive plays, adjusting defensive systems and working in position groups are all integral aspects of spring football.

Smith said the spring is usually about evaluation and development, which includes seeing how the athletes perform on the field, not just in the gym.

“The only way to evaluate a player is to get out and play. We were going to put pads on and practice, which would let us know what we had coming back and what holes we maybe needed to fill,” Smith said.

Smith told his players to make sure to stay in shape during the cancellation.

The players had been working since the end of their season to improve their strength and speed, which Smith didn’t want to see go to waste with the athletes unable to participate in team workouts.

“We were able to get in two months of that and then just had to press pause. You don’t want to work for two and a half months and then sit around for a month and lose what you worked on,” Smith said.

Smith was hired on after the end of last season, so when it came to recruiting Smith and his incoming staff didn’t have a lot of time to scout incoming recruits.

However, as time progressed Smith and his coaches would be able to more closely evaluate prospects and have a hands on approach when determining next year’s recruits.

A wrench was thrown in those plans when the NJCAA cancelled all on and off campus recruiting until April 15 at the earliest.

To combat this, Smith said his staff will have to make up for lost time when the season begins again.

“You potentially lose out on your evaluation period, so you just have to do a better job when the season starts of being at games and stuff like that,” Smith said.

These are uncertain times that are presenting coaches across the U.S. with problems they’ve never faced before.

Smith said that doesn’t necessarily mean programs have to change their objectives.

Programs will need to adapt to the times, but a team’s aspirations are still achievable. “For any coach this situation makes it a little more difficult, but every goal you want to attain is attainable. You just may have to attack it differently,” Smith said.