Southern names Deonte Shorts its starting quarterback

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Freshman quarterback Deonte Shorts, left, celebrates with wide receiver Reggie Travis after Shorts walked in a touchdown during Southern's final scrimmage of preseason camp Saturday in A.W. Mumford Stadium.
Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Freshman quarterback Deonte Shorts, left, celebrates with wide receiver Reggie Travis after Shorts walked in a touchdown during Southern's final scrimmage of preseason camp Saturday in A.W. Mumford Stadium.

Deonte Shorts officially became Southern’s starting quarterback Wednesday.

Coach Dawson Odums informed each of his four quarterbacks of their roles heading into the season opener Aug. 30 at Louisiana-Lafayette.

The naming of Shorts, a redshirt freshman from Southern Lab, was expected after he worked almost exclusively with the first team during preseason camp.

“I figured it was going to happen,” Shorts said after practice. “I was just waiting on the bossman’s words.”

Still, Odums gave him the word at a midday meeting in the coach’s office.

“I just told him, ‘Thank you for the opportunity,’ ” Shorts recalled. “I’m going to fulfill my part and do the best I can on the field and in the classroom.”

Next in line are two first-year freshmen — Austin Howard of West St. John and Jarrad Hayes of Central. Francis Kanneh, a redshirt freshman from Brooklyn Center, Minn., is the fourth quarterback.

Odums said he planned to “get Austin a series or two in the Lafayette game if possible.”

But he quickly added: “Shorts is the quarterback. He doesn’t need to look over his shoulder. He is our guy. It’s up to him to keep it that way.”

Odums said Shorts’ grasp of the offense in his second season helped make the difference.

“He makes mistakes, but all of them make mistakes,” Odums said.

Odums said the ideal scenario would be for him not to go beyond Shorts and Howard this season and be able to redshirt Hayes.

“You don’t want to burn all those guys’ shirts in the same year,” Odums said. “I told (Hayes) he’s the emergency guy, so we’ll travel him. We never know. We’re going to run our quarterbacks, so you run the risk of guys going down, but I’m happy for those three guys. I think they’re good enough to get us to where we want to go.

“Once we get late in the season, we’ll do everything we can to prevent him from losing his redshirt. I think I owe that to him, but I also explained to him that at the end of the day, it’s about what’s best for the team. If we have to, we have to.”

Kanneh back at practice

Kanneh was back on the practice field Wednesday, but he didn’t sound any happier about his situation than he was Tuesday when he missed practice while contemplating his future.

“I feel like I didn’t get a fair shot in the quarterback race,” Kanneh said, “which is why I’m asking for my release.”

Odums seemed to think Kanneh’s situation had been resolved.

“He’s on the team. He’s going to be here,” Odums said. “Like I told him, we’ll talk about everything else at the end of the season, but if you want to be a part of the team, you’ve got to make sure you do it the way we want it done.”

When told Kanneh was still contemplating leaving, Odums said: “He’s out here today, so that’s one step forward. He’ll be all right. He’ll do the best he can and we’ll go from there.”

Scheduling conflicts

The Jaguars are still adjusting to the start of the semester this week. Odums said he was down to five offensive linemen for practice Wednesday, and defensive back Renaldo Thomas has missed the last two days.

“He’s getting some stuff squared away with class,” Odums said of Thomas, a transfer from Tulane. “I’ve got a bunch of issues, but at the end of the day, I’ve got to get ready the guys that are here.

“We’ve got class conflicts. I hope we can address them, but if we can’t, we’ll have to readjust our practice time.”

Odums said no one has lost his eligibility, but the certification process is ongoing.

“I haven’t received a list of who’s definitely playing and who’s not playing,” Odums said. “Until I get that, I’ll just keep coaching the guys that show up. We probably won’t know anything until the end of this week.”

Seats available for bus trip

The L.W. Express bus trip to the UL-Lafayette game Aug. 30 has some openings. Tickets cost $70. For information on that trip or those to other Jaguars road games, contact Lisa White at (225) 408-9928.