TROY – Troy head football coach Chip Lindsey started Week 1 by introducing the Trojans’ four team captains for the 2019 season.
Quarterback Kaleb Barker, running back B.J. Smith, safety Melvin Tyus and bandit linebacker Jarvis Hayes of Slocomb are all seniors and were voted on by their teammates.
“These are four guys that have been here at Troy for a while and are key members of our team,” Lindsey said at his weekly press conference. “Our players vote on that. We have a leadership council that is basically the leaders of our team.
“Our leadership council’s a little bigger (10 players) than these team captains. I think when you’re voted a captain, it means that your teammates think you’re worthy of being one of our leaders. These are guys that received votes from their teammates and I think that’s a great honor to have.”
Two of those players – Barker and Hayes – are coming off injuries. Barker, who won a fierce battle for the job last season, tore his ACL in the sixth game.
“I know he’s excited to get back,” Lindsey said of his quarterback. “A lot of times when you miss a season due to an injury, you’re very motivated to get back, and I’m very happy with how Kaleb has come back. He’s been very focused on trying to be one of the leaders for this team.”
Hayes tore his labrum in the bowl game. Both were limited this spring and Hayes and Barker both kept getting better throughout preseason camp.
“He’s back and ready to go,” Lindsey said.
Smith had to wait his turn to get on the field and was a first-time starter last season. He became the 10 th 1,000-yard rusher in Troy history with 1,186 yards. He topped 100 yards rushing in five consecutive games, which set a school record. He enters this season as the Sun Belt Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.
Tyus, a senior strong safety from Montgomery, leads the defense with 17 career starts, including 14 in a row. He tied for fourth on the team with 60 tackles in 2018.
“Those are four guys who represent our program the right way and I’m excited that they’re going to be captains for us this year,” Lindsey said. “Obviously, we’re going to look to them for leadership.”
Single digits: Fans might want to buy a program before Saturday’s season opener against Campbell. There have been a number of jersey changes, particularly on the defensive side.
Inside linebacker Carlton Martial went from No. 38 last season to No. 2. Will linebacker Justin Whisenhunt, who wore No. 25, is now No. 3. The one that really sticks out is 280-pound nose guard Will Choloh, who switched from No. 95 to No. 5.
“I just feel like that’s a personal challenge to me,” Choloh said. “You don’t really see a lot of 270-pound D-linemen wearing No. 5. If you’re wearing that number, you have to make plays. You have to be an outlier, you to dominate on the field. It pushes me every day to make that number great.”
Martial, a Freshman All-America last season with at No. 38, said his choice for No. 2 was personal.
“It has to do with my brother (Philbert Martial, who played at North Alabama and is playing professionally in Germany). He was No. 2 in high school, and that’s why I got it in high school,” Martial said.
Martial said he may have pestered his way to the number change.
“I wouldn’t say it was begging, but I kept asking about it,” he said. “They finally gave in. ‘OK, Carlton, you can have No. 2.’”
Lindsey, noting there are many more things he will worry about than numbers, did say players can earn the right to choose their numbers.
“I think when they have been here and played and earned their stripes, I think as people move on, you love giving kids opportunities to be whatever number they want to be,” the head coach said. “It’s really not something I deal with much. I want our players to come here and have a great experience.
“At the same time, there’s something to be said about the process of earning the right to choose your number. When I played they just threw you a jersey and said this is what you are. I did it, whatever they said.”
Defensive coordinator Brandon Hall remembers the first day Choloh came out in No. 5.
“I didn’t know who it was,” Hall said. “I thought he was a big running back.”
It wasn’t the first bit of confusion the jerseys caused the coordinator.
“I’ve got to bring a stinking depth chart out here and a roster just to see who is running with the twos because these guys have changed numbers,” Hall joked after a practice. “If that makes them better, whatever.”
Super sophomores: Troy’s depth chart didn’t contain a ton of surprises, but a trio of sophomores will start on the defensive line.
Choloh was no surprise. But Antonio Showers of Tucker, Ga., was listed first at defensive end and Travon Mathis of Lanett was a surprise at defensive tackle – listed ahead of proven seniors Travis Sailo and Marcus Webb, who were both dinged up at times during camp.
“I think that’s more a testament to what they’ve done in camp and how talented they are,” Hall said. “We’re just looking for 11 guys – like I’ve said the whole time I’ve been here – that will play hard. Those guys have proven they’re going to go out there and even if they mess up they’re going to go full speed.
“Travon Mathis is one of those guys who just had a really good camp. I mean, he’s really coming along. He’s taken advantage of some other guys being injured. It’s maximized his reps. Coach (Davern) Williams has done a really good job. I’m excited to see what he does. He plays with a lot of energy in practice and seems to have a good time out there.”
Seeing cardinal: All Troy fans are asked to wear cardinal for the home opener on Saturday for the 5 p.m. kickoff.
Local artist Gabe Meredith will put on the Tailgate Terrance pregame concert, which is free for all fans before the game.
As part of an annual tradition, all incoming Troy students can participate in the Freshman Run before the game. Students will gather outside of Tine Davis Fieldhouse and run through the “T” formed by the Sound of the South before the game.
In addition to the Sound of the South, the Talladega College Marching Band will make an appearance. Both bands will perform during halftime and throughout the game.
Among the special groups attending the game, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, member of Alabama Special Olympics, middle and high school cheerleaders participating in the pregame Cheer Clinic and first responders all will be recognized on Saturday.