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Southern head coach Dawson Odums introduces his coaching staff during National Signing Day festivities, Wednesday, February 5, 2020, at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La.

Southern football coach Dawson Odums addressed some immediate needs with his early signees and brought in seven more high school recruits with an eye to the future on Wednesday’s national signing day.

The seven new Jaguars sending their national letters of intent join December’s nine-player class, six of whom were junior college recruits, with the possibility of one or two more in the coming days, Odums said.

Southern graduated 18 seniors from the 2019 team that won a second consecutive SWAC West Division title, and returns 32 of 44 in the team’s two-deep roster.

Odums said his staff targeted defensive linemen, safeties and offensive linemen, and concentrated on high school players, whom he hopes have a long-term impact.

“We’ll get a guy rough on the edges and try to polish his skills when we get him here,” said Odums, who will be in his ninth season in 2020. “That’s what allows us to be consistent. When you look at our team they are mostly high school guys. We believe in building them into what we need them to become to be successful.

“This is a need-based class. We need to fill some holes and we were able to do that. Some of our previous classes we had to count on guys who could play right away. We have a few guys who will be able to come in and compete for a job.

Odums signed one offensive lineman, Antonio Smith of Ocala, Florida, on Wednesday and was hoping for another later in the day or Thursday. Southern also has South Florida transfer Jeremiah Stafford (6-foot-3, 294 pounds) already on campus.

“Those guys give us some athleticism,” Odums said.

Safeties Luke Rose of Ocala, and Carline Davis of Higgins in Marrero joined the fold. Two more in-state players include defensive end Marquis Martin of John Curtis and Tikey Reese of Monroe-Neville.

Reese gives Southern some beef to help replace Dakavion Champion and Ceajae Bryant while Rose is tall and thin (6-2, 165) but gifted with intangibles that Odums likes.

“A guy like Luke Rose you want to see him work on his footwork and continue to grow his body to be an every-down player,” Odums said. “We would not have recruited them if they didn’t have those intangibles. We have to enhance those intangibles.”

“Tikey Reese is a big body guy who will give us some help in the middle. This is the deepest class of defensive tackles we’ve had and if you want to be good you have to stop teams up the middle.”

Reese is one of three defensive tackles and Martin one of three defensive ends in the 16-member class.

Odums was also high on another in-state player, tight end Ethan Howard of Cecilia High School. The Jaguars like to use multiple tight end sets and will lose starter Jeremias Houston to graduation.

“The surprise is going to be the tight end from Cecilia, Ethan Howard,” Odums said. “We’re going to start him as an ‘X’ tight end and then grow him into a tight end that can attach. He’s got a chance to be a good football player.

“It’s understanding what works for your program. We could have taken guys from all over, but we recruit a unique type of person to come to Southern. We might have lost some guys who didn’t fit, or didn’t go at them as hard. At the end of the day we got the guys we’re supposed to have.”

February signees

Carline Davis, FS, 5-10, 165, Higgins HS, Marrero

Ethan Howard, TE, 6-4, 225, Cecilia (La.) HS

Andre Jones, DE, 6-4, 197, Vanguard HS, Ocala, Fla.

Marquis Martin, DE, 6-2, 240, John Curtis HS, New Orleans

Tikey Reese, DT, 6-2, 270, Neville HS, Monroe

Luke Rose, FS, 6-2, 165, N. Marion HS, Citra, Fla.

Antonio Smith, OT, 6-2, 270, Vanguard HS, Ocala, Fla.

December signees

Tyquez Hampton, WR, 6'3" 208, Coffeyville Community College, Jacksonville, Florida

Amauchechukwu Nnaji-Collins, DE, 6'2", 242, Miami ASA, Destrehan, Louisiana

Shamar Zaragoza, WR, 6'0", 170, Miami Central, Miami, Florida

Derrick Williams, LB, 6'0" 215, Miami Central, Miami, Florida

Letrelle Johnson, NT, 6'1", 290, Southwest Mississippi Community College

Dakota Masters, LS, 5'10", 196, Jones Community College, Seminary, Mississippi

Ronell Burbank, DT, 6'3", 280, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, New Orleans, Louisiana

Rahem Shorter, LB, 6'0",196, Jones Community College, Pattison, Mississippi

Jadyn Landrum, LB,6'0", 220, Bowie High School, Grand Prairie, Texas