With Paine College’s first collegiate football game in five decades less than two weeks away, senior cornerback Autis Gibson and his teammates are bubbling with anticipation.
The Lions will play their first NCAA Division II game on Sept. 4 at Shorter College. Paine will participate in its first college football contest since 1962. “Everybody is very excited. Everybody at school is excited,” Gibson said. “As players, we’re just trying to stay calm and make sure we prepare ourselves the best way we can.”
The Lions, who played a club football schedule last year, began preseason practices three weeks ago. On a steamy Saturday, players and coaches took pictures before capping the afternoon with a scrimmage on their baseball field as part of the team’s
“It’s something we started last year,” Paine coach Greg Ruffin said. “We got a lot of people out, a lot of kids out. And it gives the guys a chance to try to give back a little bit, talking to the kids.”
With 11 days left until the Lions play their first game, Ruffin said he’s still not settled on a quarterback. Last year’s starter Loranzo Hammonds is competing for the starting job with freshman Trevous Reynolds (Arabia Mountain High School) and redshirt sophomore Reginald Green, who played at Georgia Military and transferred from Louisville. Also, Kyle Dinkins, a redshirt freshman transfer from Hampton University, is expected to compete for the top spot.
Dinkins, who arrived earlier this month, passed for more than 9,800 yards in Detroit.
Ruffin said he plans to name a starter by Friday.
“Coach Ruffin is giving me a second chance to play quarterback on the collegiate level,” Dinkins said. “He told me I’d have a fair shot and be able to play if I did what he asked me to do.”
Defense is one of the team’s strengths.
Strong safety Errol Jackson said defense starts up front.
“My favorite part of our defensive is our D-line,” he said. “We’ve got a great D-line with Steven Wright, Henderson Ware, Stephen Sawyer and Dani Mambobo. The biggest thing about our defense is we fly around to the ball. You’re going to see 11 hats to the ball every time.”
The defense is focusing now on Shorter’s option attack, one of three Paine will face this season, including Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foe Clark Atlanta.