Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern quarterback Deonte Shorts (2) celebrates in the end zone after running the ball in for a touchdown against Northwestern State, Saturday, Sept. 13, at A.W. Mumford Stadium in Baton Rouge.

Southern quarterback Deonte Shorts is back and ready to go.

But it remains to be seen just when Shorts will get another chance to play after missing the past four games.

Shorts started the first three games, but shared the position with Austin Howard, who has helped lead the Jaguars to a 3-1 start in the Southwestern Athletic Conference since becoming the starter.

Southern visits Jackson State on Saturday and Shorts will be in uniform.

“Austin’s going to start,” coach Dawson Odums said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. “I think he’s done a great job of earning that. He’s been filling some big shoes and he’s really been getting better every week.

“We now know that we have another guy that we can go to in the game that understands exactly what we’re trying to get done. We’re excited about where Austin is and we’re excited about having Shorts back, and if need be we’ll have an opportunity to play him so if the game gives us that opportunity we’ll have no problem playing Deonte Shorts in this football game.”

Shorts’ injury was originally described as a hernia, then a groin injury. Shorts said it was actually a blood clot below his abdomen.

“When I found out what it was I told them I was going to try to play through the pain but because of the size of the blood clot they told me I couldn’t play,” Shorts said. “I had to sit out four weeks.

“They didn’t want me doing anything so I was pretty much just resting and getting a lot of mental reps.”

Shorts said the pain made it difficult for him to turn his body and throw passes, but a combination of rest, heat and ultrasound had him feeling about 90 percent healthy when he returned to practice Monday.

“I know I have to work my way back in,” Shorts said. “They want me to take it slow. I’m willing to do whatever the team needs. But I’m ready to go if called upon.”

More players return

Shorts is one of six players to return since Southern’s last game at Alabama A&M on Oct. 11.

Three offensive linemen — Zach Brown (neck), Allen Spry (ankle) and Neako Jones (knee) — and two running backs Malcolm Crockett (ankle) and Tyre Bracken (shoulder) — have returned from injuries and nose tackle Jaylen Jordan was cleared academically.

No more stadium practices

The Jaguars concluded practice Tuesday night with special teams, which is not unusual. But what was unusual was players fielding punts in the dark.

Southern has been trying to accommodate players’ class schedules, avoid undue wear and tear on the field inside A.W. Mumford Stadium and work around the lack of lighting for the practice field.

As a result, the Jaguars had been practicing in the stadium on Tuesday and Wednesday nights to accommodate players with late-afternoon classes.

But Athletic Director William Broussard had the practices moved out of the stadium to save wear and tear on the field, which is also the site of soccer matches.

Practice didn’t end until 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, leaving the last several minutes in the dark.

“It’s all right,” Odums said. “We’re getting ready to play a night game.”

Discounted tickets available

Discounted tickets for the game at Jackson State on Saturday night are on sale for a limited time. The cost is $25, $10 less than the usual price.

For information, call the Southern ticket office at (225) 771-3171. Southern suggests that fans interested in parking for tailgating contact Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.

On the road again

The SU Quarterback Club has openings for its bus trip to Saturday’s game. The cost is $100 and includes a game ticket.

For information, visit or contact Jonathan Dearbone at (225) 572-5878 or Reginald Jarvis at (225) 939-5906.

Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.