HOOVER, Ala. — When Southern coach Dawson Odums takes his turn on the podium during Southwestern Athletic Conference Media Day on Friday, he’ll have a little less offseason information to provide on his team than normal.
The Jaguars were unable to conduct spring practice because of a lingering sanction from an Academic Progress Rates-related penalty levied prior to Odums arrival as head coach.
Odums, beginning his third full season as head coach, has been able to evaluate his team’s conditioning work and the players have conducted skeleton drills, but the centerpiece of offseason work — the 15 full-squad practices in the spring — didn’t happen. So Southern has some catching up to do.
“I just think (we’re behind) from a development standpoint with some young guys and some guys who were on the team but didn’t get a lot of snaps,” Odums said. “It’s tough to develop guys when you don’t have the value of those reps. We’ll just see where they’re at when we start fall camp.”
The Jaguars report for camp Aug. 2 and hold their first practice the next day. They put on full pads for the first time Aug. 7 and have the first of three two-a-days the next day.
The NCAA restricts the number of hours teams can practice, so there’s no opportunity for Odums make up the time Southern lost in the spring.
“Fortunately we’ve got a lot of veterans coming back,” Odums said. “Hopefully that will help with the transition to fall camp after not having spring practice.”
Two seniors — linebacker Demetrius Carter and offensive lineman Anthony Mosley — will accompany Odums at Media Day. Carter emerged as a defensive leader last season and Mosley was academically ineligible after being a preseason All-SWAC selection last year.
“Those are two of our leaders,” Odums said. “Carter was our leading tackler last season and Mosley has been a leader on our team. It’s fitting that they represent us.”
Southern is seeking its third consecutive SWAC Western Division title. The Jaguars defeated Jackson State for the SWAC championship two years ago before losing to Alcorn State in the title game last season.
Odums said he has three new assistants on his staff. Former Nicholls State assistant Steve Adams will coach the secondary and the special teams, replacing Marty Biagi, who accepted a position as cornerbacks coach at South Dakota. Chris Scott will help Adams with the secondary.
Former North Carolina A&T graduate assistant LaQuaid Manago will coach the tight ends and be the team’s video coordinator, replacing Justin Poindexter, who accepted a position as a recruiting assistant at Northwestern University.
The Jaguars, who were 9-4 last season, open the season at Louisiana Tech on Sept. 5.
All 10 SWAC teams will be represented Friday by their head coach and two players each. Several players from Louisiana will be on hand — Grambling senior defensive lineman Jevonta Williams (Zachary), Mississippi Valley State junior defensive lineman Khalil Young (New Orleans), Prairie View senior running back Courtney Brown (Lake Charles), Prairie View sophomore defensive back Damond Jackson (New Orleans) and Arkansas-Pine Bluff junior wide receiver Willie Young (New Orleans).
Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.