Southern’s Brian McCain working his way back from foot injury

Watching rough start from sideline after foot injury frustrating for senior fullback

Advocate file photo by ADAM LAU -- Southern fullback Brian McCain: ‘At the end of the day we’re playing ourselves, and the fewer mistakes we make, the better chance we give ourselves to win the game.’
Advocate file photo by ADAM LAU -- Southern fullback Brian McCain: ‘At the end of the day we’re playing ourselves, and the fewer mistakes we make, the better chance we give ourselves to win the game.’

The first few weeks in Southern’s football season were difficult enough for players and fans.

The Jaguars said they didn’t perform to their capabilities, and the results showed in a disappointing 0-2 start, Southern has bounced back to become a contender in the Western Division of the Southwestern Athletic Conference — so long as the Jaguars take care of business on the field.

At any rate, the first month of this season was perhaps hardest on senior fullback Brian McCain, who watched the ups and downs unfold from the sideline.

Before the season, McCain was projected to be the team’s starting fullback.

However, due to a preseason Jones Fracture injury — a broken bone in his foot, at the base of the small toe — McCain has been sidelined for the first five games.

“As a player, you kind of get emotional and things of that nature.” McCain said. “You want to be out there, but as a leader and a senior on the team, I didn’t want to let the circumstances get me down. I just tried to do what I could from the sideline to help my teammates.”

McCain joined the Jaguars from Chicago, where he grew up. He decided to attend Southern largely because of the hype that surrounded the Bayou Classic.

“I came to visit Southern during the Bayou Classic, and I just fell in love with everything,” he said. “I loved the atmosphere, it’s what brought me down here.”

Being far from home has its difficulties, although McCain’s mother does make it down to Baton Rouge to watch him play as often as she can.

“My mom comes down when her schedule permits,” McCain said. “Anytime you come to a place that’s 15, 16 hours away from home, it’s tough — but just like in life, you have to be able to cope with your surroundings.”

Slowly, life away from home became easier. And fun.

As a true freshman in 2010, in the home finale against Alabama State, the Jaguars scored a late touchdown to pull within two points of Alabama State — but after the whistle, officials flagged McCain for a late hit. Southern had to try its two-point conversion from the 18-yard line, and it failed.

One year later, in Montgomery, Ala., the Jaguars trailed Alabama State in the final seconds of regulation. That’s when McCain plunged into the end zone from 1 yard out for the game-winning score.

“That game meant a lot to me,” McCain said. “I was just an underclassmen at the time and still learning my way. I got a good push from the offensive line, but it was a stalemate, so I went over the top into the end zone. As a fullback, you don’t get the football a lot, so scoring the game-winning touchdown meant a lot.”

As for the rest of his senior year, McCain has high hopes for himself.

He’s got seven games left.

“I want to get involved the best way I can,” McCain said. “Wherever my team needs me at, that’s where I’m going to be. I feel comfortable playing hard on my foot, but it’s a work in progress every day for me. I just want continue being a good senior leader for my teammates and handle business.”

As for how much action McCain sees this weekend against Alabama A&M, Southern coach Dawson Odums said the amount of playing time will depend on what McCain can handle.

“It’s all up to Brian,” Odums said. “He’s healthy, but we don’t know how much he’s going to play Saturday. He’s still coming back: I saw him running the other day, and he was still kind of favoring that foot.

“But it’s exciting to see him recovering and getting healthy.”