Jaguars enjoying recruiting head start

Southern has a good head start on its football recruiting class. And coach Dawson Odums sounds like he’s expecting good news to roll in when scholarship papers start arriving at Southern Wednesday morning.

The Jaguars have offered scholarships to 24 players, and Odums said he’s hopeful of landing about 19. Eight of those players are transfers already enrolled at Southern, and the high school players who join them beginning with Wednesday’s national signing day will determine just how good this class is.

“We think this is going to be a good class,” Odums said Tuesday. “If we get 19 or 20 of the 24, it will be a great class.”

Odums said he thinks the Jaguars have 12 players “locked up,” but, “You can always lose some you think you’ve got.”

Southern finished 8-4 last season and won its first Southwestern Athletic Conference championship in 10 years. But that team featured 19 seniors, including quarterback Dray Joseph, the SWAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year; his favorite target, wide receiver Lee Doss; offensive lineman Aaron Hall; and several defensive leaders, including linebackers Anthony Balancier (the defensive MVP in the SWAC title game victory against Jackson State) and Franchot West, and defensive backs Omar Cook and Virgil Williams, who was also the team’s top punt returner.

“We have a lot coming back,” Odums said. “But we needed to get some guys who could step in immediately, and we did.”

Odums said he thinks all eight transfers, who will participate in spring practice, “have a chance to play right away next year. They’re ready to contribute.”

The transfers include five players from NCAA Bowl Subdivision programs — Florida, Pitt, Tulane, Memphis and North Texas — and three from junior-college programs.

The group consists of two running backs (Malcolm Crockett from Pitt and Jamarcus Jarvis from North Texas), two safeties (Rhaheim Ledbetter from Florida and Renaldo Thomas from Tulane), two tight ends (Willis Howard from Atlanta Sports Academy and Montrell Jones from Rochester Technical Community College), one linebacker (Martin Henry from Pierce College) and one wide receiver (Reggie Travis from Memphis).

Jarvis played at East Ascension, Thomas played at St. Augustine, and Travis played at Plaquemine.

Travis is the most experienced of the transfers, having played in 24 games with 16 starts at Memphis.

He caught 29 passes for 308 yards.

Thomas, a cousin of former LSU football and baseball standout Chad Jones, started four of the 14 games in which he played for the Green Wave.

Ledbetter was recruited to Florida as a defensive back, then switched to fullback in search of more playing time. But he got into only two games with the Gators in two seasons. He’s expected to play safety for the Jaguars.

Crockett played one season at Pitt, participating primarily on special teams in 12 games. Jarvis was redshirted as a freshman.

Three high school recruits have publicly announced their intention to sign with the Jaguars: Edna Karr safety Bryan Anderson, quarterback Cordelral Cook from Stone Mountain (Ga.) High School and Central quarterback Jarrad Hayes.

“This class is probably going to be bigger and more talented than the ones we’ve had in the past once we get started in August,” Odums said.

Odums said at the end of the season that linebacker and quarterback were priority positions.

He added, “We’re always looking for linemen.

“We think it’s going to be a good class and it will address our needs,” he said. “If there’s anything we don’t address now, we will between now and August.”

Odums said there are a handful of players among the ones Southern has offered that are being hotly recruited.

“If we get those five guys,” Odums said, “then we’ll get real excited.”


Odums will introduce the recruiting class at Southern’s annual recruiting celebration, sponsored by the Blue & Gold Century Club and the S.U. Quarterback Club, in the Royal Cotillion Ballroom in the Smith-Brown Memorial Union on Wednesday.

Doors will open at 6 p.m., and the program will start at 7 p.m. After the unveiling of the 2014 recruiting class, fans are welcomed to meet and greet with Odums and enjoy a light meal.

Donations of $20 are welcomed. Fans can take pictures of the Bayou Classic and SWAC championship trophies.