By Florida A&M Sports Information
TALLAHASSEE, FL (Aug. 21) – There’s an old adage, adapted from Roman poet Sextus Propertius that goes, “Absence makes the heart grown fonder.” The absence in this case is football. The heart it belongs to is running back James Owens.
Owens came to FAMU with a load of promise. The speedy running back/kick returner has been the fastest player on the team since he arrived on campus. He had a mildly successful freshman season in 2010, where he saw limited action. He was the team’s leading kick returner with 450 yards, averaging 25 yards per return. In most venues, that was a good season, but coming on the heels of Leroy Vann’s record-breaking season of 2009, it paled in comparison. It was tough pressure to deal with as a freshman.
Last season, Owens had an awesome Spring and looked ready to step up in the 2011 season, but he would be deemed ineligible and have to wait on the sidelines. “I just feel like I disappointed my family last year, so I’ve got to come out here this year and do what I need to do to make everybody proud again,” Owens said.
He obviously has been focused. Not only has head coach Joe Taylor been impressed with Owens’ rebound, but running backs coach Aaron Taylor and offensive coordinator Lawrence Kershaw as well. In fact, the coaches have designed some special plays to make sure Owens gets touches.
“This adversity made him a lot more mature. He buckled down and did what he needed to do in the classroom as well as in the weight room. His attendance was 100-percent this Summer. You can tell by his demeanor that it was a learning experience that he had to go through,” Taylor said.
While last season’s leading rusher Eddie Rocker is the starter in the backfield, Owens’ explosiveness has the coaches tinkering with new ways to get him involved. “He’s a legitimate 4.3 guy (40-yard dash) and he brings a lot to the table. We are looking at using Rocker and Owens together in some packages,” Taylor said.
The humble junior from Apopka, FL has set lofty goals for this season. “My goal is for me and Eddie to run for 2,000 yards this season. If you put your mind to it, anything is possible. I have big expectations this year. I’m very eager to get on the field. I’m hungry. I’m so hungry after sitting out last year that I’m humbled, and I’m ready to get out there and have a good season this year,” Owens said.
Taylor’s enthusiasm towards Owens could be felt in his words. “Fortunately for him, he learned from it. We’re happy to have him back. We always teach our kids, that it’s not what happens to you, but how you respond. My dad once told me he was so low, he had to high jump to get on the curb. The point is life tends to hand you some ups and downs and the key is to learn from them and figure out what the lesson is from adversity. He’s done that and he’s bounced back and done things the right way,” Taylor concluded.