End to N.C. Central's spring practice has championship feel

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(STATS) - The North Carolina Central football program will look to the 2017 season Saturday afternoon before taking a look back at its 2016 success in the evening.

The Eagles will first conclude spring practice with their annual "Maroon vs. Gray" intrasquad game at O'Kelly-Riddick Stadium. Then members of last year's team will be honored and presented with MEAC championship rings at a ceremony inside McDougald-McLendon Arena.

Coach Jerry Mack guided the Eagles to a 9-3 overall record and an 8-0 mark in the MEAC. They went on to play in the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl, losing to SWAC champion Grambling State 10-9.

Mack said his team's goal this spring has been to develop younger players for new roles and to improve the fundamentals of the veterans.

The Eagles figure to be especially strong on defense, where eight starters return. Their offense is replacing three-year quarterback Malcolm Bell, likely with either returnee Naiil Ramandan or Shoalin McGuire or freshman Chauncey Caldwell, who will arrive on campus this summer.

N.C. Central will kick off the 2017 season on Sept. 2 across town in Durham at Duke.