West Alabama Players Adjust to New Coach

By: Louis Montesi, III
By: Louis Montesi, III

The annual West Alabama Red-White scrimmage concluded Spring practice for the Tigers and gave hundreds of fans a first glimpse of UWA under new head coach Brett Gilliland.

"There's a learning curve, so you have to take it one day at a time, and I thought everybody approached the situation pretty well," said senior Quarterback Kyle Caldwell.

"I know I see the offense is still getting used to the option and stuff like that," said senior cornerback Rashaad Greene. "So we still got to get used to that, and the defense... we haven't really lost anything."

The offense hasn't lost much either. The Tigers are in a position in which their coaching staff is new, but key players like Chad Toocheck, Javae Swindle and reigning Gulf South Conference Offensive Player of the Year Kyle Caldwell bring tons of experience. However, sometimes the biggest changes don't have to do with X's and O's.

"Each coach kinda has a persona. A way... 'this is how we're gonna act, and this is how it's gonna be done,'" said receiver Chad Toocheck. "So transitiong from that to that is like the little hick-ups that we just got to get done with, and this Spring, that's what we've done."

Although he's new, the Tigers should be able to identify with Gilliland. It was just ten years ago that he lined up as signal-caller for UWA, setting school records for passing yards in a season and career. Like his predecessor, Will Hall, he's a former Division II quarterback, but his personality is a change.

"He's a laid back coach, you know?" said cornerback Frank Richardson. "He gets rowdy sometimes when it calls for it. Overall, he's a great coach, though."

"Coach Gilliland's a great coach... very humble," said Greene. "He doesn't have to yell at you for you to get what he's saying and stuff. He's a great coach. I love him."

"I tried to play that way too," said Gillilan. "I was raised by a high school coach. I was always taught that you can't let your surroundings affect you. I don't want the team to get rattled because the head coach seems rattled."

Gilliland is aso the son of two UWA graduates and calls himself blessed to be in Livingston.

Fans will have to wait until September to see if his new style and new staff can continue West Alabama's rise to the top.

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