MOBILE, Ala. – Somehow, when you look at South Alabama Head Football Coach Joey Jones, he seems to have all this stuff about building a program figured out.
After going 7-0 in the school’s inaugural season, Jones has put together what he believes is a solid 2010 recruiting class that will add depth to the foundation already established last year.
How’d he do it?
“Last year we were selling a dream and a pile of dirt,” said Jones about how he got 2009’s recruiting class to West Mobile with the promise of good things to come.
“This year there are much more tangible things to offer.”
Two of the biggest tangible things Jones used to lure recruits like big-armed Tampa, Fla., quarterback C.J. Bennett to Mobile is the brand new, state-of-the-art football building and a rabid fan base that turned out by the thousands for every game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
On paper the 6-foot, 200-pound Bennett, who threw for 2,385 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior, is the Jags’ biggest prize, but Gadsden defensive back Davin Hawkins may be their biggest recruiting coup.
The 6-2, 215-pound Hawkins, from Gadsden’s Etowah High, was a first-team all-region selection his senior year and had verbally committed to Kentucky early in the recruiting process.
But Jones said the Jags’ commitment to improving depth in the secondary … as well as along the offensive line … was a big key in getting Hawkins on campus as USA prepares for a much more ambitious schedule (see below) than last season’s.
“Plus!” Jones added, with a big smile creeping across his face, “these kids were at every game we played this year. And when they saw 25,000 people in the stands on a Thursday night they went ‘Wow! I want to be a part of that.”
A testament to USA’s commitment to upgrade the offensive line is the signing of 6-4, 250-pound Shane Doty, who literally had a front-row seat to one of the Jags’ most lopsided victories.
He was a starter on the offensive line for Fork Union Military Academy when USA ran the Blue Devils out of Ladd-Peebles with a 64-6 beating back on Oct. 31st.
“We’re proud of our offensive line signees,” said Jones, who admitted he and his staff had their eyes on Doty during the game.
“He’s a good player, who’ll do nothing but get better,” said Jones.
Melvin Meggs (6-2, 320) of Petal, Miss., Drew Dearman (6-3, 280) of Vestavia Hills and Chris May (6-3, 275) are among Jones’ other signees along the offensive line.
One glaring fact about USA’s 2010 signing class is that lightning-quick Sweetwater running back Johnny Lockett (5-9, 185) is the only area signee.
That’s right. USA signed no players from Mobile.
But Jones said not to read anything into that because his staff evaluated every local player.
“A lot of those players went to Alabama and Auburn, and we just felt there weren’t any next-tier kids that were what we were looking for,” he said.
South Alabama's 2010 Recruiting Class
Name (Ht., Wt., Class, Pos., Hometown, Previous School)
Shawn Artz (6-6, 265, Fr., OL, Buford, Ga., Buford HS)
• Earned Team First Award from Touchdown Club of Gwinnett ... Helped school win AA championship
C.J. Bennett (6-0, 200, Fr., QB, Tampa, Fla., Alonso HS)
• 187-of-304 passing for 2,385 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior, also rushed for 210 yards and 4 scores
Cassius Bradley (5-10, 190, Jr., DB, Caldwell, Texas, Blinn [Texas] JC)
• Collected 56 total stops for the NJCAA national champions in the fall
Terrell Brigham (6-0, 185, Fr., DB, Waynesboro, Ga., Burke County HS)
• 2-year totals as a starting defensive back include 49 total tackles, 6 interceptions and 8 passes broken up
*Jonathan Cameron (6-1, 190, Jr., DB, Puckett, Miss., Mississippi Gulf Coast CC)
• Credited with 39 total tackles, with 2 of those behind the line of scrimmage including 1 sack
David Crumitie (5-10, 170, Fr., DB, Monticello, Fla., Jefferson County HS)
• First-team all-area as a senior after recording 6 INT, returning 3 for TDs ... Also credited with 30 total stops
Drew Dearman (6-3, 280, Fr., OL, Vestavia Hills, Ala., Vestavia Hills HS)
• Played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic ... Named first-team all-state, all-region and all-metro
Shane Doty (6-4, 250, Fr., OL, Annandale, Va., Fork Union [Va.] Military Academy)
• One of highest grades on team on OL ... First-team all-district and all-region as a senior at Annandale HS
T.J. Glover (5-9, 170, Fr., ATH, Tampa, Fla., Plant HS)
• Rushed for 914 and 11 touchdowns last fall, adding 20 catches for 341yards and 6 scores
Colby Harper (6-1, 180, Fr., WR, Wylie, Texas, Wylie HS)
• Had 63catches for 804 yards and 5 touchdowns as a senior, 87 receptions and scored 10 times junior year
Davin Hawkins (6-2, 215, Fr., DB, Gadsden, Ala., Etowah HS)
• Selected first-team all-region as senior, collected career-best 74 total tackles in 2007
Rush Hendricks (6-2, 225, Fr., FB, Jay, Fla., Jay HS)
• Due to an injury, only played five games during his senior season, rushing for 750 yards
Vondre Jackson (5-11, 190, Fr., DB, West Point, Ga., Troup County HS)
• Helped school qualify for state AAA playoffs in the fall
Calvin Jenkins (5-11, 175, Fr., QB, Auburn, Ala., Auburn HS)
• Selected first-team all-region as a senior after accounting for 2,501 yards of total offense
Johnny Lockett (5-9, 185, Fr., RB, Sweet Water, Ala., Sweet Water HS)
• Named first-team all-state and all-region after running for 1,149 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2009
Audoniss Madison (6-5, 290, Fr., OL, New Orleans, La., Karr HS)
• Selected first-team all-state, all-metro and all-district as a senior after allowing 0 sacks
Chris May (6-3, 275, Fr., OL, Tuscumbia, Ala., Deshler HS)
• All-area as a senior ... Helped team advance to the semifinals of the state 4A playoffs
Melvin Meggs (6-2, 320, Fr., OL, Petal, Miss., Petal HS)
• Played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic ... As a senior was first-team all-state and all-district
Trey Sims (6-2, 185, Fr., DB, Buford, Ga., North Gwinnett HS)
• Senior stats included 37 total tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 3 fumble recoveries
Rodney Thomas (6-1, 300, Fr., DL, Auburn, Ala., Auburn HS)
• Credited with 46 total stops, including 18.5 for loss, to be named first-team all-region
Antwan Williams (5-10, 175, Fr., DB, Hoover, Ala., Hoover HS)
• Ranked 12th among safeties in the state by Scouts, Inc. ... Helped HHS to state 6A championship
Ucambre Williams (6-3, 250, Fr., OL, Phenix City, Ala., Central HS)
• Earned honorable mention all-state and first-team all-area honors after grading out at 89 percent
* denotes mid-year transfer who enrolled in school for the spring semester
Jaguars 2010 football schedule with date, opponent and location. (All times TBA)
Sat, Sep 04 Pikeville (Ky.) Mobile TBA
Sat, Sep 18 Nicholls State Mobile TBA
Sat, Sep 25 at Edward Waters (Fla.) at Jacksonville, Fla. TBA
Sat, Oct 02 Kentucky Wesleyan Mobile TBA
Sat, Oct 09 Missouri S&T (Parents' Weekend) Mobile TBA
Sat, Oct 16 at Lamar at Beaumont, Texas TBA
Sat, Oct 23 at UC Davis at Davis, Calif. TBA
Sat, Oct 30 Georgia State Mobile TBA
Sat, Nov 06 Henderson (Ark.) State (Homecoming) Mobile TBA
Thu, Nov 11 Arkansas-Monticello Mobile TBA