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Brown bringing excitement

Troy football under Larry Blakeney could be described in many ways.

Successful, historic, groundbreaking. The list could go on.

But towards the end of his tenure it seemed to be gravitating in a different direction.

The Trojans, who had at one point captured a historic five-straight Sun Belt Conference championships, were starting to rest on their laurels.

They were starting to expect success, and the air around the team started to get stale.

Blakeney, who had been the coach at Troy since 1990, had been accustomed to doing things a certain way. And that way largely stayed the same until his final game in 2015.

But now, it’s Neal Brown’s turn to have a go at the team.

And suddenly, it seems like everything is changing.

The new head coach is energizing the program, breathing fresh air into fans that are desperately clamoring for another run at a conference title and bowl game.

After his first practice at Troy on Tuesday, people couldn’t stop talking.

The practice was intense, competitive and entertaining.

Players were having fun, coaches were having fun and fans were having fun watching.

This is the atmosphere that Brown had advertised when he was introduced in December.

“It (practice) was fun,” Brown said. “The more we get into it and the more we get a feel for what we want to do offensively, then I will start to spend more time with the defensive guys. I’ll tell you what I liked the most, which was being involved with special teams again, for the first time in a long time. That was fun for me, getting involved in that piece of the game and really teaching and coaching fundamental football.”

And that is what Troy football needed Troy football to be again — fun.

From the moment he took the podium, Brown had fans, media and his players sold.

And days later, the head coach started recruiting as quickly and aggressively as his offense and practice style dictated.

This is a team that will not only be entertaining to watch in the fall, but could give the rest of the conference a run for its money.

And that same intensity is bleeding through to his players, and maybe even the fans, too.

Just ask defensive end Tyler Roberts.

“It does (translate on and off the field),” Roberts said. “Even in the weight room, we also do those challenges throughout practice and we always have that intensity.  That is something coach Brown has been pushing us towards. He wants intensity throughout practice, not just at the beginning and the end.”