Camp report: Southern practices outside the lines, makes case for field

When Southern football coach Dawson Odums arrived for practice Saturday morning he proclaimed that it was going to be “an historic day.”

“This is going to be the first Division I practice in the 21st Century,” Odums deadpanned, “that’s going to take place with no lines on the field.”

Sure enough, the field inside A.W. Mumford Stadium did not have a speck of white — no yard lines, no sidelines, no hashmarks.

“How does the receiver know when to run an out?” Odums asked.

The field, like most college stadiums in early August, hadn’t been lined because the Jaguars’ home opener is more than a month away. But Odums decided late Friday to move the practice inside the stadium after inspecting the Southern practice field and deeming it too dangerous because of a rocky surface.

Odums used the opportunity to plea for public donations to help build a satisfactory practice facility.

“We need a practice facility. We don’t need a fa├žade,” he said. “We need help. We want to build a program, and we need facilities to do that.”

But just as he did when they Jaguars dodged rain Friday by practicing inside a gym, Odums was philosophical.

“It’s OK, because our kids understand it’s the hand we’re dealt today, and we’re going to do the best we can with it,” he said.

Fullback Brian McCain saw Saturday’s venue as an upgrade from Friday. At least the offense and the defense were able to be on the field at the same time during the two-hour workout.

“We’ve just got to roll with the punches,” McCain said. “These guys are jumping around and music’s playing. This is what these guys have been waiting for.

“The biggest advantage is we get to run around freely, roll around in the grass and hit.”

Admiring from afar

Southern was well aware that former Jaguars defensive back Aeneas Williams was being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night in Canton, Ohio.

“It’s a great honor for a great young man,” Odums said. “(The players) know who he is, and they understand that he’s going to the Hall of Fame. To get to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, you have to be the best of the best, and we’re glad to know that Aeneas Williams is the best of the best.”

After practice, defensive backs Jaleel Richardson (who wears No. 13) and Jamal Jenkins (who wears No. 35) posed for a picture holding up Williams’ No. 13 Southern jersey and No. 35 St. Louis Rams jersey, respectively.

“For him to be a Southern alum and to get inducted is just a wonderful insight into what could be if you just put the work in,” McCain said. “It lets you know that no matter where you are you can do great things.”

Jordan getting close

Odums said nose tackle Jaylen Jordan passed his physical, but did not practice Saturday because of a mild headache.

Jordan didn’t arrive until Friday afternoon, a day later than planned, because he was involved in a minor auto accident during a drive from Houston to Baton Rouge. He was held out as a precaution and should begin practicing soon.

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