Former Cove football players unveil new uniforms in surprise visit Thursday

By TJ MAXWELL
Cove Leader-Press

After their routine workouts as part of the Boys’ Summer Pride camp, the Copperas Cove football players received a surprise visit from former Bulldawgs decked out in the new-look jerseys the players will compete in come this fall.
Although it was an opportunity to get a glance at the new Bulldawgs’ look, Copperas Cove athletic director and head football coach knows this unveiling was about much more than just a look.
“It’s huge,” said Alvarez. “It was 5 percent about the uniforms and about 95 percent about trying to connect these ex-athletes and the tradition they brought to this town with the ones we currently have. I wanted to bring these two groups together so they could see what some of these guys look like and some of the experiences they’ve had.”
Former Bulldawg defensive standout, Baylor Bear and St. Louis Ram Tim Atchison told the players to cherish every moment.
“No matter what level you play at, college or pros or whatever, there is nothing like playing with the brothers you grew up with,” he said. “You need to cherish it, taking it all in and leave it out on the field.”
2007 grad Royel Johnson III told the players to get focused early.
“I just tell you to grind, grind, grind,” he said. “Don’t wait until the last minute because you will fall behind.”
Listen to those who know more than you was the message from Mario Goins.
“I went to the University of Wisconsin because I listened to everybody around me that knew something about football,” he said. “Don’t think you know more than your coaches.”
Alvarez thought the overall message from the former players was on point. 
“I thought all those guys said the right things,” he said. “You have to make the best of today and get all you can get of your high school experience. Make the most of your time here and it will pay off. I thought that was a great message.”
Former TCU Horned Frog and New England Patriot Josh Boyce was honored to be a part of the unveiling.
He knows the importance of mentoring the younger players to keep a legacy alive.
“This is great,” said Boyce. “Knowing what the older guys instilled in me when I was here so, me being able to come back after all these years and instill something in these kids, is great.”
One such player absorbing all the knowledge he could get was junior quarterback Russel Cochran.
“I appreciate it because they’ve done a lot for Copperas Cove,” said Cochran. “These are people I looked up to growing up. I wanted to be a Dawg ever since I was young, so it was cool seeing them come back and I really appreciate them giving back to the community. It makes me feel good that they’re still with us and they still support us.”
The uniforms weren’t bad either, says Cochran, but the effort from the coaching staff was the highlight.
“I like them,” he said. “I just appreciate everything the coaches have done for us. This is just another thing they’ve done for us. If you look good, you feel good and if you feel good, you play good – so I just appreciate the coaches for doing this for us.”
Back are the traditional Blue and Gold uniforms and last year’s grey uniforms make a return as well with a new camouflaged Blue and Gold added to the mix.
Unveiling the uniforms were Philip Baptiste, Floyd Connell, Mario Goins, Royel Johnson, Donald Buckram, Joseph Leary and Ryan Robbins; along with former and current NFL players Josh Boyce, Tim Atchison and Tyrell Thompson.
It’s about a lot more than football for Boyce as well.
“At some point in time football is over, so you need to be a good person and football teaches you a lot about life.”
Bridging the gap between the generations can only benefit the program and community.
“I remember when I was playing, the games were packed,” said Boyce. “When you get the old generation out and the new generation comes to watch, you start winning and when you start winning you get more people out.”
Boyce thinks the uniforms are pretty cool, too.
“The uniforms are great,” he said. “They’ve come a long way since I was here.”
Having the former players unveil the new uniforms was cool for Alvarez, but it was their time and words of encouragement that meant the most.
“I really appreciate the motivational words these guys gave and taking off work,” he said. “Some of these guys have real jobs now, they’re not all off playing football. They took off a day to be here with our kids and that says volumes of how much love these ex-athletes have for their community. That’s what today was about.” 

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