Southern will start getting answers to some important questions when scholarship papers begin rolling in Wednesday morning.
The primary questions are:
Did slipping to third place in the Southwestern Athletic Conference West Division after two consecutive seasons as division champion make the Jaguars less attractive to recruits?
Did Southern land the players it needs to effectively transition from a base 3-4 defense to new defensive coordinator Trei Oliver’s base 4-3?
Did the resignation of recruiting coordinator Chad Germany, who was also co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and his subsequent hiring by conference rival Jackson State cost the Jaguars any recruits?
Did Southern plug the primary holes left by graduation: offensive line, defensive line and linebacker?
Coach Dawson Odums has indicated in recent conversations that he expects the Jaguars to have a strong recruiting class if they close effectively, though his latest thoughts also will have to wait until national signing day. He hasn’t been available for interviews in the past week.
“You never know until that ink is dry,” Odums said recently. “You can be on some great guys and think you have them committed, and they can wind up going somewhere else.”
Odums said he didn’t think Germany leaving just a few weeks before national signing day and joining a conference rival in a nearby state would hurt Southern’s class, though the Tigers have made inroads with several local prospects, landing at least a half dozen commitments from Louisiana, including Zachary running back Terry Sullivan, who committed to JSU on Sunday.
The Jaguars have had at least seven recruits commit publicly to them, but Odums’ wants to see their names — and others’ — on the dotted line Wednesday. Southern expects to sign about 26 players.
Odums relinquished the defensive coordinator duties to Oliver, most recently an assistant at North Carolina A&T, as part of a shakeup that included the dismissal of three defensive assistants.
Southern lost five starters on defense: two linemen, two linebackers and one defensive back. It also lost two key reserves: one linebacker and one defensive back.
Odums said the Jaguars began recruiting toward a 4-3 scheme even before he hired Oliver last month.
“It makes a perfect fit for us,” he said.
Southern hopes to sign as many as six defensive linemen, the most recruits expected at any one position.
The Jaguars expect to sign four quarterbacks, four wide receivers, three running backs, three offensive linemen, three defensive backs, two linebackers and one tight end.
On Tuesday, Odums was expecting several of his targets to make their decisions in the 11th hour, but he said earlier that he felt confident that the Jaguars had zeroed in on the right players to make this class a top-flight one.
“You really think you’re on the right guys, and I think that’s where it starts,” Odums said. “I think you’ve got a good feeling that you’re recruiting the right guys to come in and fit the chemistry that you have.
“Do you get them? You won’t know that until signing day. But if we get the guys that we’re recruiting that we’ve deemed the right guys, then I’ll feel great about this recruiting class.”
Follow Les East on Twitter, @EastAdvocate.