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AAMU’s New Head Football Coach ready to take over the reigns

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New Alabama A&M Head Coach Connell Maynor talks to his players at a preseason practice. (Alabama A&M Athletics)
By Solomon Crenshaw Jr.
Alabama NewsCenter

Tailback Jordan Bentley is expected to be one of this year’s standouts for Alabama A&M. (Alabama A&M Athletics)

Connell Maynor has made the rounds since he arrived in Huntsville in January to be the head football coach at Alabama A&M University.

Besides playing a round of golf at Regions Tradition, he appeared at about eight other events, including three alumni chapter gatherings and the Bulldog Club on campus.

“That’s just part of the job of being the head football coach, going to speak to alumni chapters and other things like that, representing A&M and the football program,” Maynor said.

But the main reason he was hired, he said, “was to coach the football team and win some games.”

The 2018 football season is fast approaching and Alabama NewsCenter is taking a tour of college programs in the state. Next up are the Alabama A&M Bulldogs, whose 4-7 record in 2017 and 15-30 mark over four seasons prompted the firing of James Spady and the hiring of Maynor.

Alabama NewsCenter: What is the outlook for this season?

Connell Maynor: It all just depends on who you ask. At the Roundup, they picked us fourth on our side and ninth in the conference. They did that last year and I think we finished fourth and ninth. We’ve got a tough schedule. We play Alcorn – which has won our side four of the last five years. Then we play Grambling and Southern; those two teams have won that side the last five years. We play the top three teams in the conference and that’s going to be tough on us, but we look forward to the challenge. We’re going to be up for the challenge. We’re going to be prepared; we’re going to fight; we’re going to play hard. We want to see if we can make the games competitive and get into the fourth quarter. Let’s see if we can’t steal some of these games. A winning season would be great. We haven’t had one since 2012. If we can start with a winning season, we can show the world that we’ve got things turned around and headed in the right direction.

ANC: What is the strength of this year’s team?

Maynor: I don’t know yet. We haven’t played a game. We’ve only been going against ourselves. Even if you think your defense is the strength or your offense is the strength, you don’t know how good the other team you’re going against is. Let’s say we thought we had a great defense. We don’t know how good our offense is. Offense might be terrible. That makes the defense look better. I don’t know what the strength is going to be. I don’t know what our identity is going to be until we get out there and start playing and see what our guys are going to do under the lights with the pressure on.

ANC: Who are your team’s standouts?

Maynor: We’ve got two all-conference first-teamers in the preseason picks on the team in (defensive lineman Verlon) Moland and (defensive back Dylan) Hamilton. I expect those guys to lead and continue to do what they’ve done in the past. Offensively, I expect (Jordan) Bentley to have a good year; he’s probably going to get most of the carries at tailback. Receiver, we’ll probably have to do by committee. On any given play, we’ve got three receivers in the game. (The quarterback) is going to have to make some plays and be a standout player for us. We’ve got three guys battling – Aqeel Glass, Dylan Smith and my juco quarterback is (Josh) Cartwright.

ANC: What game do your fans have circled on your schedule?

Maynor: Here, it’s the (Magic City) Classic first, homecoming and then probably the Louis Crews Classic (against Miles College). Every alumni chapter I talk to is “Classic, Classic, Classic, Classic.” “Homecoming, homecoming, Classic, homecoming.”

ANC: What is your lingering question?

Maynor: What’s going to be our identity? What’s going to be our strength and weakness? We won’t find that out until we play a couple of games. That’s to be determined and that will have a lot to say as to what kind of a record we have.