San Quentin’s All-Madden Football team got cracking for tryouts on April 15 and Head Coach Brian Underwood and Defensive Captain Jermaine Gurley were not making tryouts easy on the Madden hopefuls with their workout regimen.
“I’m not going to take easy on them this season,” said Underwood. “Last season I was not only the coach, I was also playing too. I had a kick back approach because I was new, but not this time.”
Underwood took over as Head Coach after then Dwight Kennedy paroled in 2021. And then, Underwood said that he intended to be not only the coach, but he intends to be the guys’ friend. He later found out that approach was not the best way to go.
“I’m going to have to make some drastic decisions and do some serious cuts if guys are not leaving their attitudes off the field. There’s a lot of talent coming out this year and I don’t want guys that will bring the team down with the negative attitudes,” said Underwood. “I realize that it’s my job to meet guys where they are at, and try to bring them up out of the negativities. One thing I won’t do is give up on my guys.”
Without outside flag football teams able to come inside the prison thus far, this season will be limited on other teams to play. That’s where guys inside SQ will have to rely on each other to create other teams to play such as the Intramural Football League.
Last season the football coaches developed an Intramural Football League that turned out to be a success within itself. Prior to that, the All-Madden Football team finished its season 4-2 before Coach Kennedy left. So now, new Head Coach Underwood will have to be innovative and creative to make the season a success.
“If the outside teams can’t come in, we will just have to start the Intramural league again, but this time we will run seven on seven teams with an 11-man roster,” said Underwood.
Football tryouts are colliding with Basketball Intramural season that recently got underway. Guys who are playing B-Ball generally like to also play football – true all Americans. However, only time will reveal how things will play out. As it stands, almost 40 guys came out to test their football skills. But the All-Madden team roster dwindled down to just about half that.
Basic fundamental skills such as back pedals and knowing how to pull-a-flag were some of the determining factors that Underwood used to make his cuts.
Defensive Captain Jermaine Gurley looks forward to teaching the men the fundamental skills and ethics of football I.Q. He also wants the team to learn the system of playing football to win games.
“I want them to know that hard work beats skill and talent any day,” Gurley said. “But even though I do want to win, I want them to learn what good sportsmanship looks like, win you lose. It builds character and that’s what matters. I’ll take a good attitude over superstar talent any day.”