His Tigers officially began preparations for the quickly approaching 2014 campaign earlier this week with magnificent attitudes and a positive demeanor.
“I’ve never worked with a group that’s having so much fun,” Smither said. “I don’t know what to think about it. The kids are talking, laughing and flying to the football. It’s just a totally different atmosphere and I can only give the credit to the group of guys that we’ve got here and the coaches. We’re really excited about that.”
Northeast’s players have treated each practice up to this point with the same vigor and speed that they would normally display in a game. But the Tigers also recognize that staying injury free is a necessity during the preseason.
“These guys are walking around saying, ‘Hey man, let’s go hard, let’s go fast and let’s make sure that we take care of each other,’” said Smither. “It’s just more of a team atmosphere where they’re caring about each other.”
The opening of fall practice features a mix of freshmen that are still adjusting to the intense drills that Smither and his staff prepare and sophomores who understand what to expect each afternoon.
Corbin White is one Tiger that has completed a fall training camp in Booneville. With that experience under his belt, he has aided the newcomers tremendously as they acclimate to the pace of the collegiate level.
“I try to help as much as I can because I’ve already been through one year,” White said. “I just motivate them to keep working hard and to try to get better every day.”
The Nettleton native hopes to personally improve at each session as well. White is Northeast’s top returning running back with 551 yards and three touchdowns during the 2013 season.
Like the remainder of the rookies in camp, Tray Woody aims to build off a successful prep career. He was named to the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 1A All-State team as a senior at Falkner High School after registering 120 tackles and four interceptions.
However, Woody admits that he must complete a learning curve in his first year in the City of Hospitality.
“I’m excited to start this new experience in my life,” he said. “I want to learn how to carry myself, do the right things and stay on the right track. I also want to be coachable and listen to what they say.”
Smither plans to use the opening week of workouts to solve a handful of questions that still remain unanswered with only a short time remaining before the campaign begins.
“We’ve got to figure out who can run the football because we’ve got some young backs,” said Smither. “On the defensive side of the ball we have to find out who can tackle.”
The Tigers raise the curtain on the 2014 season in Perkinston with a 7 p.m. kickoff against Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College on Thursday, August 28.