Injured Southern wide receiver Devon Gales and his family have received all kinds of support from a variety of sources.
They’ve received prayers, encouraging words, visitors and donations both locally and in Atlanta, where Devon is rehabbing after undergoing spinal surgery Sept. 27.
But coach Dawson Odums told his team that there’s one thing only they can give Gales, a third-year sophomore from Central High.
“The only way you can really make him happy is to give him victory — put him in your prayers and give him victory,” Odums said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. “That’s how you can put a smile on his face.”
Southern had an open date last week and plays its first game since Gales’ injury when it visits Alabama State on Saturday.
“(Gales’ injury) gives us something (extra) to play for,” wide receiver Randall Menard said. “We’re going to play for him. We’re dedicating this game to him.”
During the open date, Odums visited Gales at the Shepherd Center, where Gales is expected to rehab for at least eight weeks.
“I think he’s doing great,” Odums said. “I think his spirit is where it needs to be. I think he has the right attitude. I’m quite sure as he goes through this lengthy process with rehab, he’s going to reach a point in time where he may get frustrated or it may get difficult for him. But I think his heart is in the right place, his mind is in the right place and he has plenty of support.
“We just know it’s a day-to-day process. I just told him to try and get 1 percent better each day, just work hard enough to get 1 percent better and we’ll look at everything else down the road.”
Kinder, gentler practices
Odums said the tone at practice was different during the open week than it is during a game week.
The Jaguars focused on fundamentals.
“It allowed us to be coaches and teachers again,” Odums said. “A little less yelling, screaming and shouting and more ‘Let’s do it again; let’s run that play again; let’s look at it again.’ ”
Roster filling up
The Jaguars had five players back at practice Tuesday night who had missed various amounts of time because of injuries — defensive backs Dionte McDuffy, Jamar Mitchell and Ki-Jana Curtis and offensive linemen Allen Spry and Jaylon Brinson.
Southern is playing away from home for the fourth time in five games, but this is the first time the Jaguars will have a full travel roster.
“This is the first game we’ve had where we’ve actually had to sit down and say, ‘Who’s traveling?’ ” Odums said. “It allows you to look at what guys are doing on special teams. It gives us much needed depth on special teams.”
One player who won’t make the trip is reserve linebacker Calvin Lunkins. He is expected to miss a couple more weeks after having arthroscopic surgery to remove meniscus from a knee he injured against Mississippi Valley State on Sept. 10.
Freshman cornerback Demerio Houston is second in the SWAC in passes defended with an average of 1.25 per game. He has one interception and four pass breakups.
“He’s got his hands on a lot of balls,” Odums said. “If he’d ever learn how to catch some of them, he’s going to be a special football player for us. But as far as getting in position and giving himself the opportunity to make plays, he has done a great job.”
On the road again
The Southern University 6th Man Club, the Strong United Unification Organization and the Southern University Club are all offering bus trips to the game at Alabama State as well as the remaining road games at Texas Southern (Oct. 24), at Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Nov. 7) and against Grambling in New Orleans (Nov. 28).
For information on the 6th Man Club trips, contact Gail Ray at (225) 356-5252; Anna Jones at (225) 387-1982, (225) 907-7212 or email@example.com; Freddie Green Sr. at (225) 388-9403 or (225) 421-6637; or Elijah Wilkinson Jr. at (225) 355-9249.
For information on the SUUO trips, call (225) 355-6886, (225) 357-3833 or (225) 774-7617; and for the QB Club trips contact Jonathan Dearbone at (225) 572-5878 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Reginald Jarvis at (225) 939-5906 or email@example.com.
Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.