After the Indianapolis Colts hired Frank Reich as coach in February, one of the changes Reich made at the Colts’ facility was the installation of a basketball hoop in the team room.
The addition seems like something right up Mo Alie-Cox’s alley. The former VCU basketball star turned tight end is in his second year with the Colts.
When Alie-Cox and his teammates aren’t doing something football related, they like to have shooting competitions.
“Sometimes the coaches come and shoot against us. ... It varies,” Alie-Cox said. “It goes by position, offense, defense, special teams.”
Alie-Cox has been back in Richmond for about two weeks, following the Colts’ spring workouts, minicamps and OTAs. He spoke to the Richmond Police Athletic League (PAL) summer camp Thursday morning and is gearing up for the start of Colts training camp in late July.
Since he’s been back in town, Alie-Cox has also helped out with VCU coach Mike Rhoades’ summer camp. Coming out of Colts minicamp, Alie-Cox took last week off except for some lifting at VCU’s Basketball Development Center. He’s since started training at Elkin Sports Performance in Henrico. Former L.C. Bird and Virginia star Anthony Harris, who’s now with the Vikings, has been there too.
After Alie-Cox’s VCU hoops career, during which he compiled a 57.4 shooting percentage (first in program history) and racked up 255 blocks (second), he made a transition to football. It was a sport Alie-Cox hadn’t played since he was a freshman in high school, but he had the physical tools to garner NFL interest. The Colts signed him last April.
Alie-Cox suffered an ankle injury early in training camp last year. The 6-foot-5 267-pounder was waived in early August, but was later signed to the practice squad in October. Alie-Cox then got a reserve/future contract in January to keep him with the team.
He said this offseason has been light-years better than the last. He’s more confident in himself than he was a year ago.
“I was very unsure, because I had to go out there, remember the play, remember the snap count, remember who I’m going to on the play,” Alie-Cox said of last year. “And so that’s all part of the learning experience. So this year, I just went out there more confident, because I knew what I was doing, and I understood the playbook.
“When you don’t have to think, you play a lot faster, so I think that’s where I improved a lot.”
One of the players Alie-Cox has leaned on is fellow Colts tight end Jack Doyle, who was a Pro Bowler last season.
“They always say like, ‘WWJD, what would Jack do?’ Because Jack’s one of those players who really doesn’t do anything wrong,” Alie-Cox said. “So I just try to follow his example, follow his lead.”
He’s also locker buddies with another former basketball player in tight end Ross Travis, who played at Penn State.
In Richmond, Alie-Cox has spent time talking hoops with some Rams. He and the Burgess brothers — Bradford and Jordan — have been working with VCU’s post players.
“Just trying to help them out, give them little bits and pieces about what they could do better,” Alie-Cox said.
Later this summer, Alie-Cox will be around for The Basketball Tournament. The Siegel Center will host the event’s South Regional games July 14-15, where the VCU alumni team, Ram Nation, will play. Alie-Cox is a booster for the team.
Alie-Cox has to report to Indianapolis for training camp by July 22.
Besides staying healthy, Alie-Cox wants to showcase his blocking ability in camp. He wants to show that he can compete on the same level as everyone else.
“This year, I have the confidence level to know I can play with those guys and look like a player out there on the field,” Alie-Cox said. “So that’s just what I want to show. And just give myself the opportunity to make the team.”
At the PAL camp — which has 154 kids enrolled, ages 6 to 13 — Alie-Cox stressed the importance of school.
“School’s the most important thing to get to where you want to be,” he told the campers.
The PAL camp started Monday and will continue through Aug. 16. The camp dates to 1990.
“We want to give our kids a safe, positive environment where we can ... coach them to do and make positive choices in life,” Sgt. Kenneth Peterson said of the camp. “And so, to do that, you have to be able to be around them and spend time with them.”