It’s not every day that high school players get to work with former NFL players during their summer workouts.
But that’s just what Curt Ware’s Rayne squad got to do last weekend at the Football University camp held at Rayne’s football facility.
“It was just a chance to get a new voice in and change things up,” Ware said. “The players really enjoyed it, and after the camp was over the energy level at regular practice was very high.
“The next couple of days of practice were some of the best we’ve had.”
During the weekend camp, 14 former NFL players and former NFL coach Buddy Geis descended onto Rayne’s campus to coach Wolves players and players from around the region attending the camp.
Rayne quarterback Jaylon Reed was named to the camps Top Performer list, along with teammates running back Trey Wildridge and defensive lineman Austin Coleman.
Reed and Wildridge will make up the core of what will be a relatively inexperienced offense for the Wolves this season.
Ware said Reed showed consistent improvement last season during his sophomore season and will be a key component of the team’s offense this year in his junior campaign.
“He’s gotten stronger this offseason and a little bit faster,” Ware said. “When we timed him last season he was in the 4.8 second range (in the 40-yard dash) now he’s around 4.6, somewhere in there.”
Ware said even with Reed’s faster 40 time, the team will be cautious how much they put the young quarterback in running situations this season.
It only helps to have an experienced quarterback if he stays healthy.
“We’ve run some veer stuff in the past, and some stuff where the quarterback is in the shotgun with the ability to run,” Ware said. “But we want to keep him healthy more than anything, so we’ll be selective on when we decide to put him in those situations.”
But Reed might be forced to run more than Ware wants if his offensive line can’t hold up in pass protection.
Ware said after losing four of his five starting offensive lineman that the Wolves were trying to build unity among the group during summer workouts to get them ready for the season.
“The offensive line can’t be five individuals,” Ware said. “You need to be able to call out protections and know how to block this scheme and that scheme.
“You need to have a group comfortable playing together, no matter how talented they are individually.”
Ware said with the summer workout that his offensive line would be ready, and was glad that some of the new members of the unit were able to see spot playing time last season.
It’s the other side of the ball in the trenches that Ware is truly excited about, though.
Coleman leads an experienced defensive line into the season that is returning three key contributors from last season.
The 6-foot-1, 235 pound Coleman leads the unit, but Ware said sophomore Antonio Gabriel emerged as a contributor during his freshman season and has continued to impress the coaching staff through the summer.
Coleman, Gabriel and fellow returner Richard Breaux will anchor a line that could be one of the best in the area.
“He’s about 6-foot-2, 280 pounds and he can really run and move fast. He’s hard to deal with it,” Ware said. “(Breaux) is close to 230 pounds and he can really play, too.
“We’ll see how they look during the season, but at the very least they look the part in pads and their uniforms.”
Linebacker Nicky Faucheux, a two-year starter, and strong safety Devonte Robinson round out an experienced unit on defense that has Ware excited for the season.
“I just feel like we’re going to be a little better on defense this year then we have been,” Ware said. “We’ve got some experience coming back and that should help us improve.”