Alabama State football ready to tackle 2021

The Hornets were picked to finish fourth in the SWAC East behind Alabama A&M, Florida A&M and Jackson State.
Published: Aug. 7, 2021 at 6:02 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Donald Hill-Eley enters his third year at the helm of the Alabama State football program, and he’s hopeful the Hornets will leave a mark in 2021.

After finishing the shortened 2020 season with a loss in the Magic City Classic and a 3-3 record, the Hornets have unfinished business this fall.

“Just seeing those guys, I think they had a taste of being so close last year that they really want to go back and have the whole meal,” said Hill-Eley. “And what we’ve tried to share with them before, the only way that we can fix it, we’ve got to face it, and what we have to face is that we have to execute offensively, we have to seal the deal on defense, and we can’t have losses in our special teams.”

Alabama State was picked to finish fourth in the SWAC East, and led the league with six BOXTOROW Preseason All-American selections. On that list of course, is star running back Ezra Gray.

“Ezra is Ezra. When he shows up, he gets guys around him to play at a higher level, so what we try to do is get players to match his intensity, and every day he shows up for work, so we’re just happy to have him for another season,” said Hill-Eley.

Ezra Gray was named First Team running back after he led the team, and conference, in rushing...
Ezra Gray was named First Team running back after he led the team, and conference, in rushing this season with 436 yards on 84 carries in five games.(Source: WSFA 12 News)

Eley also added several transfers on the other side of the ball to help boost the defense, and worked with the kickers over the summer to help improve the Hornets’ performance on special teams.

When they take the field on Sept. 4, the icing on the cake will be ambiance of ASU Stadium.

“You know, you can play this game and if you love it you can play it in any condition, but it adds a little bit to it when you’re able to see your home crowd cheering for you and really having a good atmosphere and good culture. And that’s what we have, and we missed it in the spring, but we can’t wait till it gets back,” he said.

The Hornets will host the Labor Day Classic against Miles College to open the season.

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