Coach Jones And The Jaguars Are Getting Some Early Commitments

July 23, 2009 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

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.

Go Jaguars!