The fax machine in the Southern football office started humming around 7 a.m. Wednesday.
Coach Dawson Odums and his staff watched with satisfaction as numerous early birds turned in their scholarship papers on National Signing Day.
But a couple of key players made Odums wait patiently before he could officially assemble his 27-player class.
Offensive lineman Jodeci Harris of Plaquemine and defensive end Loren Tademy from Stockbridge, Georgia, waited until mid-morning before giving Odums the news he was waiting to hear.
“Big Jo over at Plaquemine had us on the fence and he wanted to switch hats,” Odums joked, “but at the end of the day his mom called me and said, ‘coach ,we’re going to be Jaguars.’ I was excited about that and I’m really pleased that he’s joining us.”
Georgia Southern had aggressively pursued Tademy, but eventually he came to the same decision as Harris.
“We didn’t get (Tademy’s fax) at 7 a.m.,” Odums said, “but when it did come in around 10 we were happy to have it.”
Overall, Odums seemed satisfied with his third recruiting class and Harris and Tademy represent cornerstones of the group.
At 6-foot-7, 310 pounds, Harris is one of four offensive linemen in the class and two of the others, though not as big as him, are still good sized in Mason Sims (6-4, 315) of Atlanta and Collin LaGarde (6-3, 310) from St. Augustine High School.
“A tall guy can grow into a big guy,” Odums said. “A short guy can grow into a stout guy. You have to decide which way you want to go. A 6-4, 235-pound guys has the potential to become a 6-4, 265-pound or 275-pound guy. You end up being a bigger football team. These guys are going to have an opportunity to put on some weight and we’re excited about that.
“We’re not going to get a guy who’s 6-4, 275 coming out of high school because if he can play, the big boys are going to eat him up.”
On defense, though, Odums, who is his own defensive coordinator, will take speed over size.
Southern signed nine defensive linemen, seven of whom are ends. Three of them — Joe Davis of J.S. Clark High School, Tedric White of Riverdale High School and Thaddeus Hoffer of Madison, Wisc. — are listed as defensive ends/tight ends, suggesting an unusual skill set. They are all in the 6-4, 240 range.
“Some of those guys will play defensive end, some of them will play tight end,” Odums said, “but it does give us a lot of depth in certain situations and we could probably let them go both ways if necessary.”
Both lines were top priorities for the Jaguars as was the secondary, where they landed three cornerbacks and two safeties.
“I thought we met some needs,” Odums said. “We picked up some offensive linemen, some defensive linemen. A couple of those (ends) are going to be hybrid guys that are going to play some outside linebacker for us.
“Secondary wise we got some corners and safeties. Those are three areas where we needed to improve our depth and I thought we did a good job of it.”
Depending on how the hybrids develop, Southern could have as many as 18 defensive players in this class. It has seven pure offensive players and two specialists in long snapper David-Michael Carrell of South Terrebonne High School and punter Taylor Merritt of Arcadia High School.
Carrell is one of two recruits already enrolled at Southern. The other is linebacker Nicholas McDonald from Southwest Mississippi Community College, the only non-high school recruit in the group.
“It fell into place,” Odums said. “Offensively we’re returning a lot more players than we are defensively. So we were able to pick some guys up and we have some returning guys that were out and didn’t play last year and that adds to that depth as well.”
Odums hopes that a handful of former starters will regain their eligibility, including defensive end Daniel Brown and guard Anthony Mosley.
“If we get them back it’s a plus,” he said. “You don’t necessarily have to have freshmen come in and play right away. If not, we think we handled our needs in recruiting.”
Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.