August 8, 2003
Albany- The Albany State football team will hold their first practice of the season Saturday morning.
Head coach Mike White says the players made that decision in what he describes was a very heartfelt team meeting Thursday night.
White says the players have also decided to dedicate the 2003 season in memory of defensive lineman Jackie Blanding.
The 26-year old Blanding from Riverdale collapsed and died early Thursday morning during the team's annual conditioning test at the sand dunes.
Blanding, who played one season of college football at Virginia Union in 1995, contacted coach White last month and asked if he could walk-on to the football team.
He transferred from Middle Georgia College and reported for summer camp on Tuesday.
Coach White says even though the players only knew Jackie Blanding for a short time, the team really liked him which is one reason why they are ready to move forward and dedicate the season to him.
In fact, the team held a players only workout this afternoon as the grief counselors who are working with the team have told the coaches it is a good idea for them to get back into a routine while they deal with their grief.
Albany State opens their season in just three weeks at Valdosta State.