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Clayton County football teams get back to work

Jonesboro offensive lineman Jeffrey Taylor, left, and Brendt Green goes through a lineman drill during Monday’s workout session. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

Jonesboro offensive lineman Jeffrey Taylor, left, and Brendt Green goes through a lineman drill during Monday’s workout session. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

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Riverdale rising junior wide receiver DeAngelo Harris, left, listens as coach Terry Herrod gives him some instructions during Monday’s workout. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

As Monday morning temperatures reached the mid-80s, coaches from across the state were able to evaluate what condition their players returned to summer workouts in.

Teams got back to workouts this week after a week-long hiatus following a GHSA-mandated “dead week” where players and coaches were not allowed to have organized workouts.

“Considering the 10 days off, I thought we were pretty mentally tough out there,” Riverdale coach Terry Herrod said. “We are about where I thought we would be coming back from the break. The kids are working hard, and the coaches are coaching them hard. It’s all about getting better.”

Aside from a few players still vacationing, and some sidelined by injuries, coaches say they had full participation coming off the break.

Two players in the area will miss this week’s workouts with their teams as they compete in The Opening, an elite invitational only camp for the nation’s top college prospects.

Lovejoy defensive back Montrell Custis and wide receiver Preston Williams are participating in the camp at at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.

During the break, players said they kept in shape by running and lifting weights with teammates.

“It is a non-stop grind,” Jonesboro rising junior defensive lineman Kali James said. “I worked out with some friends in the neighborhood. I think everybody came back in pretty good shape.”

Teammate Zerrick Cooper agreed.

“Now is the time to get more focused, and ready for the season,” said Cooper, a top rising junior quarterback in the state. “We are out here trying to learn and get better as the season is approaching.”

Teams can begin conditioning practice on July 25 with the first day in pads on Aug. 1. The regular season will start on Aug. 29 with the majority of the teams holding scrimmages one or two weeks prior to that.

“Right now, it’s all about staying in shape and getting better,” Riverdale rising senior offensive lineman Jonathan Lay said. “You have to be coachable, and do what it takes to get ready.”

Players have mixed emotions about the mandatory dead week instituted by the GHSA during the first week of July.

“I’ll rather we didn’t have it, and keep practicing,” Riverdale rising junior defensive end Chidi Okonya said. “I really like being around my teammates, and working towards the season.”

Lay said he sees both sides of the argument.

“Family time is important,” Lay said. “You also want to continue what you have been during since the start of the summer. I can go either way with it.”

Regardless, players and coaches say the next three weeks will be important as the regular season practices are set to begin.

“You want to keep up your conditioning, and get stronger,” Herrod said. “We will start on the twenty-fifth of July because we want to get into pads ASAP. I was pleased at the way we looked the first days back, and it showed that the players worked out on their own during the break. No one passed out or threw up, which is definitely a good sign.”