The challenge for Florida A&M right now is not to get ahead of itself, looking ahead to the Florida Classic. There, the Rattlers face MEAC frontrunner Bethune-Cookman with a league title on the line.
But first comes Hampton (5-4, 4-2 MEAC). Lose on Saturday, and the Florida in-state rivalry game is nothing more than a contest for bragging rights.
“The magnitude of the Florida Classic won’t mean a lot of if we don’t lock in on this week,” said Florida A&M coach Joe Taylor. “For all that these guys have been through, a lot of challenges in first half (of the season), to be still be in position to compete for a conference championship really has them focused. It’s just good to be around a group of guys who have been through so much but are still in contention.”
[For Donovan Rose and Joe Taylor, a MEAC reunion of a different sort.]
The list of adversity so far at Florida A&M (6-3, 5-1) includes a shuffle at quarterback, some key injuries including one that slowed celebrated rusher Philip Sylvester and a grueling victory over North Carolina A&T last week that went to overtime. Taylor came away with a newfound respect for the Aggies, and their coach Alonzo Lee.
“I know coach Lee,” Taylor said. “I recruited him to play for me at Illinois, and I was really proud. I told not just him but his team how proud of them I was. They didn’t play according to a record. They really had a great effort.”