Southern had a roadmap for how it wanted Wednesday’s early signing period to transpire, and by the time the day was over, coach Dawson Odums was pleased with the direction his program took.
“We stick to needs,” Odums said. “We don’t deviate. We set a plan in place and we stick to that plan, and that plan was to try to find length.”
That mission was accomplished. The Jaguars signed 10 players Wednesday, and almost all of them fit the profile Odums and the Southern coaching staff were looking for.
The first four players to fax signed letters of intent to Southern epitomized what the program was seeking; all stood 6-foot-1 or taller, and all are skill position players.
Southern landed signatures from 6-3 receiver Kobe Hartman of Ellender Memorial in Houma, 6-3 tight end Reggie Wilson of Reagan High School in San Antonio, 6-3 defensive back Damien Crawford of Green Oaks High School in Shreveport and 6-1 receiver Jamel Byrd of Hahnville High.
Follow along here for updates as Southern welcomes its newest members to its football program.
Odums thought the two big receivers were particularly crucial to this class.
“They’re explosive, they’ve got great ball skills — they’re exactly what we were missing,” Odums said. “They’re so explosive and dynamic, and when they’re long like that it really gives you a chance to be successful.”
Odums feels he could get some of that from Wilson, as well, a player he feels was overlooked coming out of prospect-rich Texas.
"I think he can run, he can stretch the field, he’s very much like the guy who just left (in all-conference tight end Dillon Beard)," Odums said.
Hartman was later joined by his Ellender Memorial teammate, defensive lineman Terrence Gray. The pair announced their commitment to Southern together back in late August and followed through by signing Wednesday.
In Crawford, Southern signed a defensive back with rare size. At 6-3, he and all-conference safety Andrea Augustine will be the tallest defensive backs on the Southern roster.
Crawford figures to be joined by a pair of Green Oaks teammates at some point in wide receivers Kenric Jackson and Lexington Simon. Neither signed Wednesday, but both pledged a commitment to Southern via social media in late October.
Though the priority in the signing class was to get longer at the skill positions, Southern added another receiver built in the slot receiver mold in G.W. Carver wide receiver Gary Young.
The 5-7 Young was used in an all-purpose capacity in high school, returning punts and kicks while playing both the inside and outside receiver positions. He was rated a two-star prospect by 247Sports.
With some seniors graduating, Southern also added to its offensive and defensive lines. In addition to Gray, the Jaguars signed Captain Shreve defensive lineman Colyn Givens. Both Gray and Givens fit the long and lean profile Southern coveted.
“Very athletic, fast, powerful — just everything you’re looking for in a lineman,” Odums said. “Of course, they’re going to have to develop, but they do some things that you can’t coach.
“The way people are making this a space game, you don’t play against a lot of football teams that are getting in two and three tight ends. You’re playing against a spread sort of deal. Our guys have got to be able to run, and that’s what these guys can do.”
Southern also added a specialist in its signing class, signing Zachary High School product Martell Fontenot. Odums, who lives in Zachary, said he attends the same church as Fontenot.
He sees the local product as a versatile weapon that can provide an immediate competitive spark to a position group that struggled last season.
Offensive lineman Bernard Childs and linebacker Jacoby Allen, both of whom hail from Texas, rounded out Southern’s signing class, although there is a possibility the Jaguars will add another signee later this week.
Odums said he does not expect any of his 10 signees to report until this summer.
Although Southern is not officially finished, Odums said it is “not looking for a whole lot” else before national signing day February 7.
The goal between then and now is to land some “impact players,” which he said may include transfers from junior colleges other Division I schools.
WR Kobe Hartman, 6-3, 190, Ellender Memorial High School (Houma, Louisiana)
TE Reggie Wilson, 6-3, 225, Reagan High School (San Antonio)
DB Damien Crawford, 6-3, 188, Green Oaks High School (Shreveport)
WR Jamel Byrd, 6-1, 190, Hahnville High School (Hahnville, Louisiana)
K/P Martell Fontenot, 5-11, 155, Zachary High School (Zachary, Louisiana)
DL Terrence Gray, 6-3, 242, Ellender Memorial High School (Houma, Louisiana)
WR Gary Young, 5-7, 170, G.W. Carver High School (New Orleans)
OL Bernard Childs II, 6-2, 315, Channelview High School (Channelview, Texas)
DL Colyn Givens, 6-3, 255, Captain Shreve High School (Shreveport)
LB Jacoby Allen, 6-1, 210, North Shore High School (Houston)