Southern University may not have gotten the big numbers Wednesday, but the Jaguars are getting plenty of love.
Dawson Odums, fresh off a 7-4 season and a Southwestern Athletic Conference Western Division title, welcomed three recruits on the first day of the early signing period, with more expected for the traditional February signing day.
Destrehan quarterback Harold Blood, Karr defensive tackle Austin Kent and West Jefferson cornerback Tyruss Gayden sent their letters of intent to Souuthern, and Odums said he already likes their attitude.
“It’s easier for players to make it in a place when they love being there,” Odums said. “These three guys love Southern and are going to be great leaders for us one day.”
Odums said he plans to sign as many as 15 players by the second signing date Feb. 6, and he hopes to have as many as four transfers in the spring.
“We’re not in a hurry around here,” he said. “We’re particular in what we’re looking for. We don’t panic on signing day. There’s always kids looking for somewhere to play. We recruit all the way up until we go to camp, trying to find what we need.”
The Jaguars may have hit paydirt with Blood, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound dualthreat quarterback with a legacy of winning. Blood guided Destrehan to a 12-2 record as a senior and a berth in the state semifinals, where the Wildcats lost to eventual champion Zachary in a 67-57 shootout.
Blood’s record as a starter was 26-5. As a sophomore, he started five games in place of the injured Kohen Granier and won all five. He was a teammate of LSU signee John Emery, the top running back prospect in the nation.
“Blood comes from a very successful program,” Odums said. “They produce tremendous players every year. He can go under the two quarterbacks we have and learn what we’re doing. When it’s time to step in there, he can make some great things happen.”
As a senior, Blood completed 178 of 259 passes for 2,573 yards and 29 touchdowns with seven interceptions. He ran 47 times for 252 yards and five scores. His high school coach, Steve Robicheaux, said Southern reeled a top-notch leader who excelled for three seasons.
“He’s a tremendous kid who works extremely hard; the kid’s a winner,” Robicheaux said. “If you look up what high school quarterback you want on your team, Harold Blood is that guy. He’ll never do anything to hurt or embarrass your program. I can’t say enough good things about him.”
In Kent, Odums sees a player who might be able to help the Jaguars early on. At 6-0 and 270 pounds, Kent helped Karr to back-to-back Class 3A state championships.
“Oh, you talk about powerful," Odums said. "He gives us some girth and he’s explosive. His best football is in front of him. He can hold the point. Low center of gravity. He comes from a really good program that knows how to win. If they can learn what we’re doing and report in condition, linemen have a chance to play (as freshmen) in this day and age.”
The same goes for Gayden (5-11, 180), a two-star recruit with outstanding speed. He could see some playing time early because the Jaguars are losing both of their starting cornerbacks, Tim Thompson and Demerio Houston. Freshmen Glenn Brown and Robert Rheim saw some action last year.
“Man, this kid looks the part,” Odums said. “He can play corner or the nickel. He’s versatile and has great speed. He’s got a tremendous physique. He looks like he’s ready to play college football now, and that’s a plus. And he loves Southern. All of these kids love Southern.”