Southern football coach Dawson Odums wasn’t ready to release a depth chart when spring practice ended last weekend.
There’s plenty of work to be done over the summer and in fall camp before the pecking order is transferred from pencil to ink, but nonetheless Odums has seen enough to be confident he has what he needs.
He has two inexperienced but talented quarterbacks who are pushing one another to be better every day. He has an abundance of talented runners and catchers that any opponent that tries to gang up on the run or the pass will pay a price. He has a mostly set offensive line that will enhance that balance.
On defense, he has seen improvement in run defense, which was a priority for the spring, and he has as many speedy athletes defending the pass as he has handling the football on offense.
The special teams are a work in progress but feature enough talent to contribute to the Jaguars pushing for a second consecutive Southwestern Athletic Conference championship.
Players in the mix: Deonte Shorts, Francis Kennah
The competition: Shorts appears to have a greater upside than Kennah, but Odums has said the competition is closer than outsiders might assume.
Odums says: “I don’t think one is head and shoulders above the other. I think it’s 51-49. Those guys are going to battle throughout the summer and throughout fall camp.”
Players in the mix: Lenard Tillery, Kylum Favorite, Malcolm Crockett, Jamarcus Jarvis, Herb Edwards
The competition: Tillery and Favorite are the top returnees in a group bolstered by two transfers in Crockett (from Pittsburgh) and Jarvis (North Texas). Odums said Edwards also is in the mix despite being a walk-on.
Odums says: “I don’t think it’s going to play itself out until fall camp. Tillery is doing a much better job, and Favorite is showing why he was such a highly recruited guy coming out of high school. Edwards is really a physical runner. Crockett and Jarvis are really showcasing why they went Division I.”
Players in the mix: Brian McCain, Josh Perry
The competition: The Jaguars likely will play more two-back with the return of McCain, who missed last season with a broken foot.
Odums says: “It makes us a lot better having two guys there.”
Players in the mix: Bradley Coleman, Montrell Jones, Willis Howard, McCain
The competition: Coleman is a receiver/tight end hybrid, Jones has missed time with a sore Achilles, Howard is a freshman who enrolled early and McCain’s versatility adds depth.
Odums says: “We have three really good, talented tight ends going into fall camp and, with McCain in the mix, you have a fourth guy that you can roll in at tight end.”
Players in the mix: Randall Menard, Willie Quinn, Mike Jones, Justin Morgan, Nico Talbert, Samuel Altman, Chuck Baker, Reggie Travis, Dontrell Brown, William Waddel
The competition: This is the deepest, most competitive position on the team. Menard, Quinn, Jones, Morgan, Talbert and Altman all have played for the Jaguars. Baker has been slowed by an ankle injury. Travis got plenty of experience at Memphis.
Odums says: “Randall Menard and Willie Quinn are special football players. Now you’ve got Travis who can really stretch the field vertically. Brown is getting better as he learns the offense, and Baker was really getting better. William Waddel is a veteran guy who will be a senior.”
Players in the mix: Ts Reginald Redding and Zach Brown, Gs Dwayne Houston and Anthony Mosley, Cs Brandon Thibodeaux, Clayton Sylve and Terrell Lee
The competition: Four starters return at guard and tackle, though Brown is sidelined after shoulder surgery. He should be ready for fall camp. The only real competition is at center, and that was limited since Sylve missed time with a back issue and Lee is trying to regain his academic eligibility.
Odums says: “We haven’t really been able to see the battle take place at center, but once we get all these guys into fall camp, it could really turn into a great battle at center.”
Players in the mix: Gabriel Echols, Justin Woods, Jaylen Jordan, Christian Allen, Arthur Miley, Donald Phillips
The competition: Odums said Echols had “a tremendous spring.” He’s battling Woods and Jordan for the nose guard spot. Allen has been out because of a hamstring injury.
Odums says: “Gabriel Echols has dropped a little weight, and his foot quickness has improved. I think he might be ready to take on that role as our starting nose guard. I think when Justin Woods is on top of his game, he gives us a great motor on the inside. You just hope the light switch comes on for Jaylen Jordan.”
Players in the mix: Javon Allen, Demetrius Carter, Martin Henry, Daniel Brown, Detrane Lindsey, Roshaud Turner
The competition: Brown will be the starter on the outside, doubling as an end in passing situations. Allen and Carter, who’s getting his eyes checked, each have a leg up to start inside. Lindsey is a wild card.
Odums says: “I think Javon Allen has really gotten better. Once Demetrius Carter gets his eyes checked and he can see the signals and get lined up, he’s going to be pretty good for us. Martin Henry came in in January, and the last scrimmage you could really see the talent and the reason we brought him here. Roshaud Turner is an undersized football player, but he’s a 3.0 student who’s intelligent and understands football. I’m just trying to figure out where I can best use Detrane Lindsey because he’s an outside guy and we’re asking him to play inside.”
Players in the mix: Ki-Jana Curtis, Jamar Mitchell, Justin Bethancourt, Kevin King, D’Andre Woodland
The competition: Bethancourt played a little last season, and Curtis and Mitchell matured while redshirting.
Odums says: “We have a good battle going on at corner.”
Players in the mix: Renaldo Thomas, Rheheim Ledbetter. Jeremy Coleman, Jamaal Martin, Dionte McDuffy, Blake Monroe
The competition: Thomas (from Tulane) and Ledbetter (Florida) are transfers who bring experience to a deep group.
Odums says: “You’re talking about a bunch of talented guys, which is why we don’t play with a fourth defensive lineman because there are too many guys in that group who are good and I’ve got to get them on the field.”
Players in the mix: PKs Greg Pittman, Matthew Hill and Jamie Galvin; P Paul Randle Solen; KR/PRs Willie Quinn, Randall Menard, Justin Morgan, D’Andre Woodland, Rheheim Ledbetter
The competition: Pittman has a slight lead on Hill and Galvin. Solen will be the punter.
Odums says: “Greg Pittman is getting better every day. We’ve got a bunch of guys who can return and a couple more who will be coming in.”