Entering his senior season, Skyler Prol was a preseason second-team All-Southwestern Conference pick and had started 20 of Southern’s past 22 games.
His role changed. Now, the man teammates call Big Sky, is serving as a sort of sixth man on the Southern offensive line.
Prol was not available for an interview earlier this week — he had to leave Wednesday’s practice early to make it to class on time. But his teammates and coaches say he has embraced his new role as well as he can.
“Sky’s always been a team player,” said senior guard Christian Rodriguez. “He believes in what the coaches believe in, and if the coaches believe it’s best for him to alternate with right tackle and right guard, for the best of the team, he will do so.”
Prol gave up his starting right tackle position to redshirt freshman Jodeci Harris after the UT-San Antonio game, and has since been rotating into the game at both positions on the right side of the offensive line.
There is no getting around this new role being a demotion — beyond not having the title of starter, Prol’s snap count has drastically decreased.
But Prol is still an active part of the Southern game plan, rotating in for a series here and there to provide a breather for his teammates.
“In his mind, and in our mind as well, he’s like a starter,” said offensive coordinator Chennis Berry, who also coaches the offensive line. “He’s bought into his role and he’s being the best at his role.”
Southern offensive coordinator Chennis Berry began shouting before the play even finished.
Southern will make its third trip to BBVA Compass Stadium during Odums’ tenure at Southern this weekend. Texas Southern’s home field doubles as the home of Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo professional soccer club.
The Jaguars are 2-0 there under Odums. He is hoping for good weather this weekend.
“If the weather’s good then it’s a pretty good surface to play on,” Odums said. “If you’ve got any kind of precipitation … that leads to a tough field, because it’s made for soccer; the cleats really dig it up if there’s any kind of moisture.
“As long as there’s not any rain, it creates a fast surface. It allows us to utilize our speed.”
The National Weather Service forecast for the Houston area does not call for rain Saturday.
Winning is great, but Southern coach Dawson Odums is looking for more.
Duck, Duck, Goose!
Near the end of practice Wednesday, Southern’s first-team offense scored a touchdown in a red-zone drill against the first team defense, and the entire offensive line immediately sprinted to the end zone and sat in a circle.
Quarterback Austin Howard then ran up and started mocking the children’s game “Duck, Duck, Goose” for an elaborate touchdown celebration.
“We try to come up with something to get the energy going when we score,” Rodriguez said. “You’ve got to have fun here.”
Hungry, Hungry Howard
Odums was asked earlier this week if Howard was “hungry” to end his career leading his team to a conference championship.
The coach picked up on the key word and delivered this response.
“I think he’s hungry to beat Texas Southern,” Odums said. “I really believe that’s as far as he’s looking, because if you look any further that means you’re shopping in a restaurant that you don’t know if you can afford.
“Right now, you know you can eat what’s on your plate in front of you because the table’s already been set. You don’t know what any other table holds.”