Southern football team reports Wednesday

Advocate file photo by ADAM LAUDawson Odums went 4-5 as Southern's interim coach last season. He begins his first year as the Jaguars' full-time head coach.
Advocate file photo by ADAM LAUDawson Odums went 4-5 as Southern's interim coach last season. He begins his first year as the Jaguars' full-time head coach.

The Southern football team has finished its offseason weight and conditioning program.

Earlier this month, quarterback Dray Joseph and defensive back Virgil Williams joined coach Dawson Odums in representing Southern at the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s annual media day.

All that’s left is to play football.

The Jaguars will report for their first preseason camp under Odums on Wednesday afternoon, a little more than 24 hours before conducting their first practice and a little less than one month before playing their first game.

Odums, introduced Dec. 18 as Southern’s new coach, inherited the job on an interim basis two weeks into the 2012 season.

“How well can we execute what we’re trying to do?” Odums said. “I really think that’s going to be the No. 1 thing coming out of camp.”

Southern hopes to end its season in the same stadium where it begins.

The Jaguars will open with an Aug. 30 matchup against the University of Houston at Reliant Stadium, home of the NFL’s Houston Texans. If they win the Western Division of the SWAC for the first time since 2004, they will return Dec. 7 for the conference title game.

Southern, which went 4-7 last year, was picked second in the SWAC’s preseason poll.

Senior wide receiver Lee Doss, senior linebacker Anthony Balancier and senior defensive back/return specialist Williams were named to the preseason All-SWAC first team. Joseph, the conference’s leading passer, and junior defensive end Arthur Miley were named to the second team.

“Everybody’s hungry,” Doss said. “We’re ready to get back out there on the field and show what we can do.”

Southern will practice in helmets and shorts when camp opens at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and move into shells (helmets and shoulder pads) on Saturday. The first full-pads practice is Monday, followed Tuesday by the first of six two-a-day sessions.

Odums said that more than 70 players stayed on campus this summer to work out with the team. He said that number was in the 20s last year.

“You’ve got to feel that’s two wins,” Odums said. “There’s an advantage there.”

As the Jaguars embark on what they hope to be a memorable season, Odums believes the next few weeks could launch a special run for years to come.

“I’m not interested in just being a good team,” he said. “I think Southern should have a great program. My quest is, I want to build a program.”