When the University of South Alabama takes the practice field to begin fall camp, they will be doing it under the lights as they begin with a night practice on Thursday at 6:30pm. Head Coach Joey Jones has favored early morning practices for sharp minds and focus.
Actually the Jags will hit the practice field at 6:30pm on the first three days, Thursday, Friday and Saturday before taking a day off to close out the week. They will then return to the practice field for a full week of drills and squad practices as well as returning to early morning practices. They will go for five straight days at 7:15am.
The team has scheduled three fall scrimmages. The first two are scheduled on back-to-back Saturdays on August 11 and 18 beginning at 8am. With the final scrimmage scheduled for Thursday, August 23rd, one week before the Jags season opening game versus UT-San Antonio.
Additionally, Coach Jones has scheduled two-a-days for Thursday August 9 and Thursday August 16 then have the Jags off on Sunday’s August 12 and Monday August 20, the first day of fall semester classes, and Saturday August 25th. Also, as with each previous season, the Jags will have an off campus team exercise on Friday August 17th.
“We’re very excited. We’ve had a chance to get away from each other a little bit this summer because we can’t practice,” coach Joey Jones stated. “But you can see the look in everyone’s eyes, they are ready to go. I know the players and coaches are looking forward to this year, so it is a pretty exciting time.”
As reported before, the Jags have had a very intense workout regimine this summer as they prepare for a full Division I schedule and their first Sun Belt schedule. Most of the 100-plus student-athletes in the program have been trainging since January. “We challenged our kids back in January when they returned to school. We needed to have a great offseason through the spring and a great spring training, and the summer was very critical for our chances to be successful in the fall,” Coach Jones said. “I think they have done what they needed to do. They were challenged early, and I think they followed through. What I am most pleased with is that we have leadership with 13 captains who have groups underneath them that we have been meeting with weekly. I have really seen our leadership grow in the last six months, it has been incredible. We’ve finally got more older individuals too, guys who have been around the program four years. So our leadership has started to stand out, which I think will have a positive effect on this team.”
Check back at Thunderjags for continuing coverage of South Alabama’s preseason camp. GO Jags!
Associate Athletic Director for Marketing Travis Toth said that season ticket sales are up 5% from this time last year. He also announced that single game tickets are now on sale for all home games. Also, tickets are on sale to Jags away games. However, tickets to the South Alabama vs Mississippi State game are reserved for season ticket holders or flex plan holders only.
The 2012 season tickets have started arriving in fans mailboxes today. See the photo above for what they look like and what the new parking passes look like as well. The new parking passes are much better than the previous three seasons.
There are two positions where mid-major football programs, especially young programs like South Alabama, always has need. Those positions are the offensive and defensive lines. The Jags picked up another one of those big defensive linemen this week.
Coach Jones has said on numerous occasions that, “God only makes so many 300-pound linemen.” He has also given a similar reason why South Alabama runs a 3-4 defense. On a number of occasions, when asked about it, he tends to give two reasons. First he says that, as an offensive mind coach, he does not like to go up against an ‘odd front’ because of the problems it causes in blocking. The second he says is with only three defensive linemen, you don’t have to find as many big defensive linemen while smaller, faster linebackers are more available.
Lucas Melo of Pierce College in Los Angeles, California will join the Jags on Tuesday, just before the Jags being their preseason camp. Melo is a 6’2″ 305 pound all-conference defensive tackle in the Southern California Football League. He had 47 solo tackles, 9.5 sacks, 13 TFL’s, two forced fumbles and two blocked field goals. He was rated a two star recruit by Rivals.com.
Melo had early offers from BYU, New Mexico State and Texas State among others and in February chose to sign with Maine, who is a FCS power. However, after signing day he discovered many of his class credits would not transfer to Maine or to several other schools. He asked for and was granted his release. Then Melo picked up offers from Akron, Buffalo, Georgia State, Jacksonville State, Washington State, Boise State and South Alabama.
When he visited South Alabama he enjoyed his visit. He said that he loved Mobile, the campus and everything about the South Alabama campus. But his decision came down to early playing time and the ability to get into school without any further problems.
Though, Melo does have one academic commitment he must meet before he can officially join the team. He will have to complete and online English class within 21 days of beginning practice as South Alabama or he will have not be able to participate in practice until he has finished it. However Melo anticipates he will have that taken care of within a week.
Melo said that he believe the coaches envision him as playing primarily at the nose guard position. However, depending on the defensive package he could play end or the 3 technique.
Not only does Melo’s size help the team overall, but he provides experienced depth. Coach Turner, who primarily coaches the defensive line, likes to be able to rotate out the defensive line every three plays or so. Having another big guy up front helps to protect the middle and puts more pressure on the quarterback in passing situations.
Look for Melo along with Romelle Jones, Montavious Williams, Randon Carnathan, Andy Dalgleish, Alex Page, Ceasare Johnson and others to make some big plays this coming season.
Below is Melo’s Sophmore highlight reel.
South Alabama has received their 12th verbal commitment for the 2013 signing class. Brandon King from Highland Community College in Kansas has made his intentions known that he will sign with South Alabama at the end of the upcoming season.
King, a native from Alabaster, Alabama was a standout at Thompson High and signed with Highland after his senior season. He is a 6’2″, 212 pound linebacker. He led Highland with 118 total tackles last season with 70 of them being solo and also added six tackles for loss, one sack and a forced fumble. However this season they are moving him to Safety to take advantage of his size and speed.
“I’ve played linebacker my whole life, but they’ve moved me to safety because of my flexibility,” King said. “I’m 6-2, 210 and I run a 4.36 laser time, so it helps a lot with my mobility when I came play both positions. Safety is a nice transition. It shows that I can cover and I’m good with depth. It helps out and shows that I’m versatile.”
King was impressed with the coaches and the facilities on his recent visit to South Alabama. “I really liked that when I came down all the coaches were there and they seemed really dedicated to building the program,” he said. “I really liked the facilities and how everybody is connected. I felt at home. A lot of schools, when you go on a visit they don’t have every coach there excited about seeing you. Everyone knew me by name when I came in. It’s a nice place to be and it’s a pretty campus. The Senior Bowl is held (in Mobile) every year so you can get a lot of looks from a lot of different (NFL) teams. It’s close to the beach.” He then concluded by saying, “I liked everything about it.”
King was receiving recruiting interest from a few FBS schools such as Northern Illinois, Maryland, Rutgers and Auburn among other schools. But he said he was glad to end the recruiting process so he can focus on the upcoming season and not where he intends to go after the season.
The other verbal commits are:
- Tiquan Lang CB Lowndes GA. 5’8″ 168-lb 73 tackles, 3 int, 1 kick block, 5 KOR for 201yds and 1TD, 6PR for 113yds in 2011.
- Terrell Pinson FS Itawamba CC 6’3″ 200lb As a freshman he played WR and caught 10 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown.
- Xavier Johnson RB Chamberlain, FL. 5’9″ 170lb Rushed for 1,736 yards and 16 TDs in 2011.
- Caleb Hayman WR/TE Gainesville, FL. 6’1″ 193lb
- Dejon Funderburk WR Washington (Pensacola), FL. 6’0″ 175lb Caught 31 passes for 720 yards adn 7TD’s while rushing for 362 yards and 4TDs.
- Taylor Lamb QB Calhoun, GA. 6’1″ 190lb Had a 73% completion rate for 3,635 yards, 40TDs and 9Ints.
- Justin Jones RB Northeast Miss. JC 5’6″ 180lb Rushed for 920 yards and caught 27 passes as a freshman.
- Roman Buchanan S Daleville, AL. 6’2″ 195lb 72 solo tackles, 45 assists, four sacks, three forced fumbles and two recovered, two interceptions, four passes defended and a field goal blocked as a junior.
- Tevaris McCormick WR Biloxi, MS. 5’9″ 170lb 769 yards receiving, 213 yards rushing and 265 yards on returns with 16 total touchdowns.
- Jacob Chaffin DT Spain Park, AL. 6’3″ 260lb 38 solo tackles, 8 tackles for loss and three sacks as a junior.
- Devon Earl S Hoover HS, AL 5’10” 180lb 61 tackles, 5 INTs, 10 pass deflections and 3.5 tackles for loss as a Junior
- Noah Armstrong OT Lawrence Co. 6’8″ 300lb Offered by Arkansas State, Western Kentucky and Southern Miss.
- Willie Williams Jr DE Americus, GA. 6’2″ 255lbs Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas and UCLA were also recruiting him.
It’s less than a week until the Jags begin preseason camp to prepare for their first season with a full Division I schedule and a full Sun Belt schedule. Not only are they playing a full schedule, but they are playing 13 games in 14 weeks. How about that for a ‘Welcome to the FBS’ campaign?
But the Jags have not been sitting around waiting for camp to arrive. The Jags have been working in very hard in the weight room under the guidance of Strength and Conditioning Coach Justin Schwind.
Other than coach Schwind, the rest of the coaches cannot work with players. Which means everything is voluntary in the summer. But that does not mean that they are not accountable. Coach Jones and the staff selected 11 individuals to be leaders within groups of players within the team. They were charged with holding their teams accountable and by all accounts, they have been doing their job well.
This article does a good job of giving us an idea of what challenges Coach Justin Schwind has faced this summer. It also has several player quotes.
The Sun Belt Conference has reached a new high in academics. According to the release by the conference on Thursday, a record 1,793 SBC student-athletes earned a GPA over 3.0 for the previous school year and were named to either the SBC Academic Honor Roll or SBC Commissioner’s List.
The Commissioner’s List is made up of student-athletes who received a GPA of 3.5 or higher for the previous academic year. The Academic Honor Roll is awarded to those maintaining a GPA between 3.0 and 3.49.
The list this year has 826 student-athletes on the Commissioner’s List, up from last year’s total of 797, while 967 student-athletes were recognized on the Academic Honor Roll. The overall number is up to 1,793, which was an increase from the 2010-2011 total of 1,659.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment for our member universities, athletics departments and our quality student-athletes,” SBC Commissioner Karl Benson stated. “We are very proud of the high academic achievement of our student-athletes in the Sun Belt and it proves that our member universities and athletics programs are committed to excellence, not just on the fields and on the courts but in the classroom as well.”
“Our coaches and administrators have done an outstanding job in mentoring and providing the necessary tools and resources for our student-athletes to succeed and reach such high levels of academic success,” Benson continued.
WKU lead the way on both lists with 109 on the Commissioner’s List and 124 on the Academic Honor Roll. While Women’s Soccer placed the most student-athletes on the list in the by-sport category with 134 on the Commissioner’s List and 79 on the Academic Honor Roll. Football had the most student-athletes on the Academic Honor Roll with 183.
This is the second year in a row that new highs in academics were reached and four of the last five years have set new record highs.
Texas State is one of the new additions to the Sun Belt in 2013 along with Georgia State. The Jags fans have already visited Georgia State last season and played in the Georgia Dome which they call home. Even though the Jags does not play the Bobcats this season, let’s get to know the Texas State Bobcats home stadium.
Texas State will play their first season in FBS with the WAC this season before joining the Sun Belt next summer. They broke ground on Bobcat Stadium in 1979 and was completed and opened in 1981. In 2009 the first phase of a multi-phased expansion was completed to grow the capacity to over 16,000 seats by adding onto the existing home side. The addition included new premium club seating with 450 seats and 15 luxury suites.
In 2010 a new playing surface was installed along with new video screens and scoreboard were added to the stadium. For this season, they added the North End Zone COmplex to increase seating to over 30,000 seats. This new complex also includes the new Mark and Linda Smith Bobcat Ticket Office, three fan shops selling game-day attire, new dressing rooms for the visiting teams and game officials, a new track and field locker room and offices, weight and training rooms.
Here is a dated photo of Bobcat stadium.
This is the diagram for the current layout
There are opportunities to park near the stadium. There is a parking lot on the east side of the stadium. Another one in the southwest corner of the stadium and a wedge shaped one a little further west of that one. General public pay parking is $10 starting at 9am on game days in the Northwest portion of the Strahan Coliseum Lot (looks like the wedge shaped parking lot referenced previously). But there is also free parking options with shuttle service according to their website.
Three Sun Belt Conference running backs have been named to the Doak Walker Award Watchlist. Nominations for the award will be accepted through October.
Florida International’s Kendrick Rhodes, Middle Tennessee’s Benny Cunningham and Troy’s Shawn Southward were the three from the conference included in the list.
The PwC SMU Athletics Forum Board of Directors will name the semi-finalists on November 9 then the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee, which consists of former NFL All-Pro and college All-America running backs, media members and selected special representatives, will cast votes to determine the finalists, which will be announced on November 19th. Then the committee will cast a second vote beginning on November 26th to determine who the recipient will be.
Other high-profile runningbacks on the watchlist are Montee Ball (Wisc.), Knile Davis (Ark.), Eddie Lacy (Ala.), Marcus Latimore (South Carolina), Onterio McCalebb (Aub.), Curtis McNeal (Southern Cal.) and Joseph Randle (Ok. State) among others.
Arkansas State senior quarterback Ryan Aplin was named to the Walter Camp Award Watch List heading into the 2012 season. Aplin is also on the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award Watch List, the Manning Award Watch List and the Davey O’Brien Award Watch List.
In mid-November, the list will be narrowed to 10 semi-finalists. The award is voted on by the 124 NCAA BCS head coaches and sports information directors and will be announced live on ESPN on December 6.
Aplin completed just under 64% of his passes last season for 3,588 yards and 19 touchdowns and was named the 2011 Sun Belt Conference player of the year. He also led his team in rushing with 588 yards and 10 touchdowns. ASU won the SBC Championship with a perfect 8-0 record and 10-3 record overall.
The Red Wolves lost their head coach to Ole Miss and former Auburn Offensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn was hired as his replacement. Malzahn instrumented the offense that helped Cam Newton win the 2010 Heisman Trophy and helped Auburn win a national title. This kind of athelticism lends itself very well to his unique offense.