Tosin Aguebor is going to get a lot of repetitions during Mercer’s spring football practices the next few weeks.
And he’s fine with that extra work.
The Bears’ standout linebacker, who made his name as a pass rusher in 2013, missed the entire 2014 season after suffering an injury in August. He’s back to 100 percent and ready to work.
“It definitely is great to be back out here with my teammates,” Aguebor said. “Not playing the whole season really hurt me. Being out here is great. We’re all excited and ready to go.
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“Right now, we’re focusing on the fundamentals and trying to get our those down, like taking the right steps and running to the football and things like that, making sure we get all the small things down.”
Aguebor actually returned to practice for the final week of the 2014 season, but head coach Bobby Lamb has said there was no reason to rush him back to the field.
“It’s a big boost for our defense, just the presence of him being a leader and all the things he does on and off the football field, his work ethic; he shows the younger guys how to practice,” defensive coordinator Mike Kolakowski said. “And we get a good pass rusher back. It’s a win-win for our football team. He’s going to get a lot of reps this spring because he’s rusty. He basically took a year off, and he needs all the reps he can possibly get.
“By the fall, he’s going to be good to go.”
Aguebor said he used the 2014 season as a time to learn. He played in the team’s season in the Pioneer Football League, but he missed the program’s debut season in the Southern Conference.
The Bears finished 6-6 overall and 1-6 in conference play.
“Everything happens for a reason, so you can’t get too down about it,” Aguebor said. “It was a good time to watch and see the difference between the PFL and the SoCon, so it helped me see I needed to raise my game and the things I need to do to get better for the season.
“The word right now for us is hungry. We went 1-6 last year in the SoCon, and that’s not good enough. Right now, we’re trying to take the next step and be a SoCon championship-type team, and we’re just hungry to be the best team we can be.”
That includes having the leadership on the defense step up its game, and Kolakowski and his defensive staff are using the spring to make that happen.
“We’re challenging the guys who have been around here, Tosin, (Corey) Lockett, (Tyler) Ward, Lendell (Arnold),” Kolakowski said. “They need to take ownership of the defense. It’s their defense; it’s not my defense, and we’re starting to see that. It’s hard for guys to step outside of the box. It’s being uncomfortable, and that’s hard.
“It’s easy for everyone to be in their comfort zone, but we’re asking guys to get outside of that comfort zone and do things they’re not comfortable with. That’s hard, but it’s good to see those guys accept that.”