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4th & 1 program grows Arkansas State football team

Published: Aug. 8, 2021 at 9:37 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - For the Arkansas State football program, in many ways, it’s first and 10. It’s a new season with a new head coach.

But for Head Coach Butch Jones, he wants his players to live as if it’s 4th and one, where it’s more than just the game that’s on the line.

Jones created the 4th & 1 program when he took over the A-State program in December, bringing in speakers with ties to either Jones or the Arkansas State program, all designed to help student-athletes grow.

“Really successful people, they’re wired the same way,” Jones said. “They basically have the same message.”

That message includes how to win on the field. The team brought in NFL All-Pro Linebacker and A-State alum Demario Davis and Super Bowl Champion Travis Kelce to pass off some advice to the student-athletes, who hope to be in their shoes one day.

“I mean it was really exciting, we got some really great guys in there,” senior lineman Ivory Scott said. “They talked to us, they helped with off-the-field problems, on-the-field problems, they helped us in so many ways.”

The big takeaway from those meetings? Players say it’s making the most of your time.

“Don’t waste time, our time is now so we can’t waste it,” senior linebacker Caleb Bonner said. “That was the biggest thing, being one A-State, we talked about just upholding and defending the traditions here.”

The Red Wolves didn’t just hear from NFL superstars, they learned from professionals all across the spectrum. From psychologists to Navy Seals, from NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley to Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.

“[They were] giving us knowledge about taking care of your body, your priorities, and all that,” Junior offensive lineman Andre Harris said. “It’s just been a great experience. And then we have some psychologists, just all types of knowledge we learned this offseason so it’s really helped, it’s really helped.”

A big part of the program is education. With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging, the team also heard from medical professionals about the virus and information about the vaccine.

The team is now in the “high 90s” in terms of vaccination rate, according to Jones. He credited the 4th & 1 program as to why.

For Jones, he believes the team is taking the program to heart.

“We’ll put our speakers up against any program in America,” Jones said. “I think that’s a great illustration to people all over the country that Arkansas State is a special people and we’re not going to take a backseat to anybody.”

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