While the local press in the area has been more focused on the SEC and the comparison between the number of commitments that Alabama and Auburn has already received for their 2010 signing class. The Jaguars have already received five verbal commitments themselves.
With the news that Alabama ‘stole’ a recruit out of Auburn recently. It was actually back on July 14th that Coach Joey Jones and the Jaguars was already there and had already ‘done that’. Auburn High School quarterback Calvin Jenkins and defensive lineman Rodney Thomas announced their desire to play in Mobile next year.
Jenkins was the Opelika-Auburn News offensive player of the year last season. He lead the Tigers to a 12-1 season with a berth in the state quarterfinals and accounted for over 2,412 yards and 25 touchdowns. He is 6’1″ and weights 180lbs that can run a 4.6 40. Other schools in the Sun Belt and Conference USA were interested in him as well.
Rodney Thomas, who will be working with former Auburn University defensive tackles coach Don Dunn this season, notched 44 tackles and four sacks last season for the Tigers as well. They will join two fellow classmates who graduated in 2008, Richard and Brandon Ross, at USA. Richard was the first full-scholarship signee for Coach Joey Jones and the Jaguars to play running back.
Brandon Ross, who was just mentioned, is transferring from Memphis to the Jaguars and will have three seasons of eligibility remaining when he joins the team and will be eligible to play with the team next season. Brandon was expected to sit out a redshirt season last year, however injuries forced him to see action in the Tigers’ final eight games of the season.
He finished second on the team in rushing yards with 296 and two touchdowns on 58 carries averaging 5.1 yards per carry. He also added four receptions for 55 yards. His best game was in their win over SMU when he rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown. His final season at Auburn HS he ran for 1,275 yards with 10 touchdowns. Coach Jones said, “In my opinion he was an SEC-caliber player coming out of high school. After you get a chance to meet him, you find that he is a great kid, too. We feel very fortunate to have him joining our program.”
The next commit to the program came from a key member from Sweet Water’s 2008 Class 1A state championship team. Running back and kick returner Johnny Lockett rushed for 1,941 yards and 28 touchdowns last season while also scoring four times on kick returns. In the championship game against Speake, he scored on runs of 17 and 42 while adding a third on a 36 yard reception. He rushed for 171 yards and finished with 207 total yards and the game’s MVP award in the 42-0 win.
After touring the USA campus, he was impressed with the school’s medical instruction and facilities as well as the coaching staff and football program. The next day he informed the coaching staff of his decision. Several schools in the area were recruiting Johnny, including Troy, UAB and Southern Miss.
The fifth verbal commitment thus far is Chris May of Deshler High School. He is a 6’3″ 270lb lineman who has played on both the offensive and defensive line. However his past season he earned all-area honors at the offensive tackle position.
But don’t count your eggs before they hatch. These verbal commitments are non-binding. The national letter of intent’s are binding but these players cannot sign until February, which is a long time away still.
Some may be out there feeling like USA is behind on the game. No they are not. Your Division I teams are seemingly receiving commitments every week. At last count Alabama had 17 or so, while USA has a mere five. Coach Jones and his staff are working this summer building relationships. They are not out there recruiting blue-chippers, they are strategically connecting with select upper-tier players who might have a chance of being overlooked on signing day.
Last year Sam Gibson from Pattville was heavily recruited by USA as a dual threat quarterback but only had offers from a couple major conference schools like Vandy and Virginia. But LSU jumped in and got him with plans to move him to safety.
However, on the other side of the coin, USA signed a couple of players last year that had originally committed to other Division I schools. Coach Jones said, “We got those kids because we kept recruiting them. There’s a lot that happens in the last two or three weeks in recruiting. If you don’t have a relationship with the kids when the chips start falling, you don’t have a chance.”
Coach Jones had said he only plans to sign around 18 players this year (February 2010) before scaling that back up the next year for their ascension into a full FBS schedule. “There are always great players in Alabama; they may just be a little undersized,” Jones said. “You can’t tell me a 6-1, 285-pound lineman with great feet can’t play, but the big schools may not take him. It’s like they say, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” The in-state talent pool might be considered ‘thin’ this year to some, but to USA it just means that the fishing is that much better for the Jaguars.
On Sunday afternoon, university president Gordon Moulton, introduced Dr. Joel Erdmann as the next athletic director for the University of South Alabama. Dr. Erdmann was one of over 50 applicants for the position after Joe Gottfried announced his upcoming retirement on August 1st.
Dr. Erdmann is 46 years old and has served as athletic director at Southeastern Louisiana University Hammond, Louisiana for the previous two years. Previous to that he served in the same capacity at Division II North Alabama for five years between 2002 and 2007. During his time at UNA, the football team won two Gulf South Conference Championships (2003, 2006) and Division II Regional Championship (2003). While at Southeastern Louisiana the school captured its first ever Southland Conference Men’s All-Sports Trophy and also captured two conference championships while also playing an instrumental role in facility upgrades.
Three candidates were interviewed on campus in the previous few weeks, Erdmann, Brian Wickstrom from UTEP and Derrick Ramsey from Coppin State. President Moulton phoned Erdmann over the weekend and offered the job to him.
Erdmann has previous ties to the university. He held several positions at USA where he received his master’s degree in physical education. He was a graduate assistant coach for the baseball team, assistant to the athletics director, executive director of the Jaguar Athletic Club and other capacities including handling compliance issues, game operations and special projects. He was also a tenured associate professor in the College of Education.
Dr. Erdmann is a native of South Dakota where he graduated from South Dakota State . He earned his doctorate from Florida State University in Sports Managament and Athletic Administration in 1995.
President Moulton spoke about Dr. Erdmann at the press conference on Sunday by saying, “Joel Erdmann brings to the University of South Alabama the experience that comes from having led other athletic programs, as well as a familiarity with and appreciation for USA athletics stemming from his earlier leadership position here. Dr. Erdmann is the right person to take the torch from Joe Gottfried and lead University of South Alabama athletics to the next level.”
Following are Dr. Erdmann’s remarks about his selection to be USA’s fourth Athletic Director since the school was founded in 1963. “I appreciate President Moulton and everyone who was involved in the selection process. I am honored to have the opportunity to lead this tradition-filled department and look forward to capitalizing on the addition of football while maintaining a high level of excellence throughout all sport programs. It is truly a privilege to be a member of the University of South Alabama and a memorable time to be a Jaguar.”
I hope this is the right hire for the position. I thought this would be a good time to hire a solid name to further strengthen the athletics department, however its also nice to have someone that seems to truly appreciate the University and has the excitement and energy to help lead it along. With Football set to kick off its first season in a mere 46 days, that enthusiasm and energy will definitely be tested quickly.
The funniest line to end the statement was from the usajaguars.com press release. The last line says, “A native of Bismarck, N.D., Erdmann is married to the former Tina Milton. The couple has three dogs and a cat.”
Summer is that time of year when college sports really slows down. Baseball season has ended, football camp is about a month away and most people are trying to find some way to beat the heat. But now that there is some news to write about and its a mere 60 days until kickoff of the inaugural South Alabama football season, we have another South Alabama Sports Round-Up to get out.
With less than a month until Joe Gottfried hangs up his AD hat for retirement, South Alabama has not been forthcoming about potential replacements as of yet. However I would expect that to start to ramp up very soon with the committee set to reconvene sometime early this month to review candidates. President Moulton has gave the committee a target date of September 1st to have the job filled.
The Mobile Press-Register wrote not too long ago about some candidates that were interested in the position, two of them with previous ties to the university and Mobile itself. John Hartwell, who is the executive associate athletic director for Ole Miss and Joel Erdmann who is the Athletic Director at Southeastern Louisiana have both confirmed that they are interested in the position.
But Erdmann and Hartwell are not the only ones expressing interest in the position. Johnny Williams, former AD at Troy University, has expressed interest in the job. Plus people close to Birmingham-Southern AD Joe Dean Jr. has indicated that he might be interested in the position as well.
Dr. John Smith, vice president for student affairs and faculty athletics representative, is chairing the search committee and has stated that as of late June, there have been 23 applications received for the position with more expected to be received.
Erdmann and Hartwell speak highly of the potential that USA has since the addition of football to its sports program and likening the potential of South Alabama’s success to the quick rise of South Florida since the inception of football at their school.
Speaking of football, coach Jones said that about 95% of USA’s scholarship players were on campus for the first summer session which started in May. Now with the second summer session starting in late June, Coach Jones now has 100% of his scholarship kids on campus as well as most of their walk-ons as well.
Most of the kids have already qualified with the exception of a couple kids they are waiting to see how well they do in summer classes. Matt Autry is expected to enroll in Jones County JC and hopefully will rejoin the Jaguars once he has gained eligibility.
In order to get down to the 30 scholarship limit for the 2009 class, there will be several players grayshirted. So far the grayshirts for this year will be Linebacker Mytez Madden, Saftey Zach Brownell, Defensive Lineman Will Thompson and ATH Mardavian Martin. Jared Palmer, WR from Tuscaloosa, will either be grayshirted or will attend JC depending on his academics. QB Early James and OL Chris Payne, who were mid-semester JC signees, have left the program.
August 2nd will be the first official team meetings and will becing practice on August 4th. Coach Jones anticipates a healthy roster to being practice with only a few players involved in minor rehab at this time. Receiver Christopher Pugh has a torn meniscus, but is currently working out and going to rehab and hopes to be ready once practice starts. Also it was overheard that Coach Turner (one of the brothers) had a staph infection on his hand. I don’t have any details about what type of infection he might have had, but its probably the a simple infection due to a cut.
Staph Infection from WebMD: “About 25% of people normally carry staph in the nose, mouth, genitals, and anal area. The foot is also very prone to pick up bacteria from the floor. The infection often begins with a little cut, which gets infected with bacteria. These staph infections range from a simple boil to antibiotic-resistant infections to flesh-eating infections. The difference between all these is how deep and how fast the infection spreads, and how treatable it is with antibiotics. The antibiotic-resistant infections are more common in North America, because of our overuse of antibiotics. The type of staph infection that involves skin is called cellulitis and affects the skin’s deeper layers. It is treatable with antibiotics. This type of infection is very common in the general population — and more common and more severe in people with weak immune systems. People who have diabetes or weakened immunity are particularly prone to developing cellulitis.”
Obviously lots of interest will be on the quarterback position starting in August. With the #1 guy in the spring, Matt Saucier, moving to safety, the position is really up for grabs. The most experienced should be Oregan State transfer Brennan Sim. But Nic Owens, Myles Gibbon and Kyle Stewart will definitely be battling for the starting position.
Coach Jones was quoted saying, “We have four good candidates coming in. The he hard part of that is that we’re going to have to give reps to someone and get them ready. People don’t realize that when you are starting a new program you have to make a decision on a quarterback fairly quick because if you fool around for two weeks and give four people all the reps than they won’t know many of the plays. We’re going to have to do a great job of evaluating those kids in the first week. I think at the end of the first week we need to decide who is one, two and three, not that it will be etched in stone.”
Like I have been saying, what is probably the best situation for the Jags is to have Brennan Sim (JR) to win the starting job with one of the freshmen as his backup. Then giving the other two a redshirt to give them an extra year of maturity and understanding of Coach Gregory’s system.
Season tickets sales are around 6.000 so far and USA has a goal of selling 10,000. With that many season ticket holders, the Jaguars would lead the Sun Belt before even playing their first season. If you haven’t purchased your season tickets yet, what are you waiting for? Saturday afternoons in Mobile will be a great answer to ‘what are we doing this weekend?’ and for $85 for seven games, you’re not going to get off that cheap anywhere else.