Southern’s young defensive backs are ready to step up at a moment’s notice — or at least they better be.
Of the 18 defensive backs the team lists on its roster, only six are juniors or seniors.
Fortunately, the Jaguars’ seven freshmen defensive backs have made waves in camp heading into the team’s full-squad scrimmage on Saturday, with several pushing for serious playing time during the regular season.
Players like cornerbacks Elijah Allen and Arvin Huff have received particular praise from the coaching staff for their natural ability and hard work in adapting to the college game.
Both Huff — a graduate of John Curtis — and Allen will play with the second string during Saturday’s scrimmage and are expected to be among the players competing for the second cornerback spot opposite sophomore Danny Johnson.
“(Allen’s) body frame is a longer, taller corner, so he’s able to cover more ground,” Southern cornerbacks coach Chris Scott said. “He’s doing a really good job with his techniques from pressing to playing off. He’s just overall the type of corner that I love to coach.”
“Huff is doing what I thought he was going to do when we signed him. Elijah Allen is another guy,” Southern coach Dawson Odums said. “Their football IQ is great, which is allowing them to play their first time on campus. They’re going to play. No doubt about it, they’re going to play.”
Demerio Houston will also run with the second-string cornerbacks, but a slight groin injury has him questionable for the scrimmage. Scott said he wants to take a cautious approach with Houston, so that he’ll be ready for the season.
East Feliciana graduate Tim Thompson will be in the rotation at cornerback, as well, giving Scott a lot of options to chose from come game time.
“All the young guys are doing a very good job of competing, learning every day, taking the techniques I’m teaching them, and we’re doing a really good job at the cornerback position,” Scott said. “It feels really good when you know you have extra players just waiting for their opportunity to step up.”
As one of the few upperclassmen on the roster, Southern strong safety Dionte McDuffy has tried to teach the younger players what it’s like to play at the collegiate level. He said some of the biggest adjustments for freshmen is the speed of the game and learning to put plays behind them.
McDuffy said free safety Andrea Augustine out of Carroll High in Monroe has impressed him the most of the young safeties.
Augustine is already one of the biggest defensive backs on the team at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds.
“At the beginning of the camp, everyone was starting off slow, just getting to know the playbook and the defense,” McDuffy said. “But as we approach the end of camp, we’re looking more like a complete defense. Those young guys are stepping up and buying into what the coaches are telling them and doing what they need to do to get better each day.”
SU-Jackson State moved up
Southern announced Friday on Twitter the start time for its home opener against Jackson State has been moved up to 5 p.m. Sept. 19 for television broadcast. The game will be televised on ESPU. ... Southern’s scrimmage at 9:15 a.m. Saturday will be played at the Louisiana Leadership Institute. ... The scrimmage will be followed by the annual Fall Fan Fest in the F.G. Clark Activity Center. The festivities will begin with a tailgate party before the team’s arrival at 1:45 p.m. Doors open at 1 p.m. Coaches and players from the soccer and volleyball programs will also be available to autograph posters and take pictures. Odums will address attendees at the event, which will include live performances by the SU Human Jukebox Pep Band and varsity cheerleaders.