It has been a roller coaster ride for Southern sophomore defensive back Dionte McDuffy.
A former standout at Evangel in Shreveport, McDuffy signed with South Alabama in 2011.
Last January, however, McDuffy decided he wanted to be closer to home and transferred to Southern.
“I wanted to be close to my family,” McDuffy said. “It won’t be a problem for my family, and friends to come see me play.”
McDuffy went through spring and fall practices with the Jaguars, delivering bone-crushing hits while trying his best to pick up the defense as quick as he could.
“I’ve been like that since high school,” McDuffy said with a grin in reference to delivering big hits in the secondary.
At the end of preseason camp, McDuffy had proven himself worthy enough that he found his name atop the Southern depth chart at free safety.
But just before kickoff in the opening game of the season against Houston at Reliant Stadium, McDuffy was informed he had not been cleared by the NCAA and would not play.
“Adversity hits you all the time,” McDuffy said. “I just kept positive thoughts and cheered my team on. It ate me up a little bit (not being on the field). But I just kept a positive mindset.
McDuffy missed the Jaguars’ next game at Northwestern State before receiving good news. He was deemed eligible and cleared to play before the Prairie View game.
McDuffy (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) wasn’t the only one excited he was finally cleared. Coach Dawson Odums was ecstatic to hear the news that he would have his hard-hitting safety back.
“He’s a physical presence in the secondary,” Odums said. “He comes downhill with bad intentions. He’s not shy in sticking his face in there.”
Defensive backs coach Marty Biagi echoed Odums’ excitement on getting the sophomore safety into the lineup.
“He’s a guy we ask to bring a lot of energy and excitement,” Biagi said. “He’s been very focused and disciplined for us. Once he got cleared, he was ready to show up and show why he can help this team.
“He prepares really well for games. From a mental and a technique standpoint, he knows what he needs to do. And of course his physique is going to allow him to bring the big hit.”
Biagi, however, points out it’s McDuffy’s technique that allows him to deliver those hits.
“More than anything, I’ve been so proud of his technique, and that is what has allowed him to make those plays,” Biagi said.
Through two games with limited action, McDuffy has accumulated 14 tackles in making an immediate impact.
“Every play you want 11 hats flying to the football,” McDuffy said. “So my goal is to be around the ball, and if the play is already made, I want to be there just in case.”
Tickets for Saturday’s Jackson State-Southern matchup at A.W. Mumford Stadium are available at www.gojagsports.com and at 225-771-3171.
General admission seats are available starting at $15, while limited seats are available in the north end zone and west sideline at $40.
The ticket office is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and at noon on game day. Will-call will be available at these times.
Free parking will be available Saturday. Fans are asked to enter through the Mills St. entrance on the north side of the Southern campus.
Additionally, general admission parking will be available for $10. Fans are asked to enter through Swan Avenue and will be directed to a lot adjacent to Southern Lab High School.
There will also be parking availability at the Swan and Harding intersection.
For those traveling by bus, parking will be available for $200 on game day. RV spots will also be available for $70 each. Seven CATS shuttle buses will be available with limited capacity on campus Saturday to transfer to and from the stadium for those with special needs.
Along with its regularly scheduled 97.7 radio broadcast, the SU-Jackson State matchup Saturday at A.W. Mumford Stadium will also be broadcasted by Heritage Sports Radio Network and could be listened to on Satellite radio.
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