DB comes together to reflect the success of 2021


Teamwork is going to make the dream work for Florida A&M defensive backs this season.

Former All-American free safety Markquese Belli pursued his NFL dreams with the Dallas Cowboys. His former running mate Antwan Collier also weighs in on the Bragg Memorial Stadium turf.

Boot camp allows the Rattlers to decipher how they recoup lost production from the two hard-hitting safeties, as it will take a secondary shakeup.

“It’s about the group as a whole raising their level to what Markquese and Antwan Collier showed us last year,” coach Willie Simmons said. “They saw Markquese’s work ethic and approach to the game pay off with an NFL contract.

“These guys have really bought into the work ethic and mindset of being a dominating unit. Javan is a ball hawk. BJ is another corner of coverage. We have some ability there .”


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Open the way

Despite losing two of their top four tackles in 2021, preseason All-SWAC first-team cornerback BJ Bohler says the secondary is more stacked than in previous years.

The range of wide receivers that were introduced to defensive backs helped them gauge their performance and readiness for the August 27 kickoff in North Carolina.

“I go every day against the best receiving core in SWAC,” Bohler said. “They push us to be the best versions of ourselves and prepare us for game days.”

The Ocoee redshirt senior cornerback led the Rattlers with four interceptions in 2021 and is working to become more vocal to help the newcomer with drills and reads.

“Markquese Bell wasn’t a super duper vocal guy, but he definitely led by example with his agility, ball skills and football IQ. I’m a vocal leader and lead by example in drills to contribute and help the backend,” Bohler said.

“The defense is doing very well. We have a lot of depth this year and everyone is hungry. That’s what’s different from last year. We have a lot of talent and that makes me want to work even more. “

Florida A&M University defensive back Javan Morgan (20) runs during fall training, July 30, 2022

Unconditional help

There’s no limit to what former Florida High football player Javan Morgan can do for high school.

In some sets, he can line up and nickelback. In others, he will stand back for safety.

“I just try to help the team in any way I can,” said the red-shirted junior. “If the coach asks me to do something in coverage, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Morgan intercepted opposing quarterbacks three times in 2021, which was second on the team. He was named to the All-SWAC Second Defensive Team for the 2022 season.

“I try to be better than the second team, but I’m grateful for that. For the picks, I work hard like everyone else and I read my keys.”

A year ago, the Rattlers ranked in the top ten of the FCS defensive rankings. There is no short expectation of this and they act as such.

“We’re back to the same level or better,” Morgan said.

“We want to be the best defense in the country.”

Florida A&M University safety Lovie Jenkins (1) drops his cover during fall practice, July 30, 2022

hold it down

Former Louisville defensive back Lovie Jenkins handled it all.

Entering his second season with FAMU, he agreed to switch positions in the field as he moved from nickelback to free safety to replace Markquese Bell.

“Markquese Bell was a one-of-a-kind player, but everyone is their own type of player,” Orlando homer Jenkins said. “I can’t wait for the season to show everyone that there is no shortage of talent in the position.

“It is maintained.”

The FAMU defense has a chip on its shoulder. Through the doubts that arise from the loss of players, reflecting the same success they enjoyed in 2021 is high on the list.

“With a few guys missing from last year, a lot of people think maybe the defense has fallen. We’re working to improve because we have a lot to prove to show the defense hasn’t fallen,” said Jenkins.

“I’m not even going to lie, this year we’re going to be crazy. From what I’ve seen this summer, we’re going to be really good.”

Gerald Thomas III covers FAMU athletics for the Tallahassee Democrat. Contact him by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @3peatgee.


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