Jacksonville, Ala. – On the day of his team’s last Two-A-Day practice, Jacksonville State head coach Jack Crowe announced his first depth chart of the preseason.
With still over a week left before his young Gamecocks kick off the 2012 season at Arkansas on Sept. 1, a lot can happen with his first two-deep, but Crowe says this first depth chart is one designed to open the season with.
“If people can just tolerate the uncertainty of the depth chart.,” Crowe said. “We put one out today, just because it is time to put out an official depth chart. A lot of things look different from the spring depth chart, but it is just where we are. It is a playing depth chart, not a planning depth chart, and playing certainly will affect it.”
Even though the roster features more than 50 freshmen and sophomores, there is some experience at almost every position. Of the 11 players at the top of the offensive chart, all but sophomore DaMarcus James, who played in six games as a freshman a year ago, have at least one start for JSU under their belts. James, a 5-foot-10, 220-pound Demopolis, Ala., native, moved from the backup at the A-Back position after the spring to the starting B-Back spot. He replaces Calvin Middleton, the team leader in touchdowns as a senior in 2011.
The projected starting offensive line features 56 career starts between them, despite three sophomores (Max Holcome, Tarik Milner and Blake Burks) being in the mix. Burks made his first career start in the season finale at Tennessee State last year, while the other two started every game as freshmen. Seniors Tori Mobley and Odie Rush anchor the line in the other two spots.
On the defensive side of the ball, all 11 first team players have experience at JSU, eight of which have started. If Wednesday’s projections were to hold until kickoff in Fayetteville, Ark., three Gamecocks (Mikel Whittier, Caleb Lawrence and Ben Endress) would make their first career starts against the Razorbacks.
Senior defensive tackle DiMetrio Tyson leads the defense up front, while junior Mikel Whittier, who moved to defensive end after playing three games at linebacker last year, and sophomore Caleb Lawrence, who saw action in nine games as a reserve as a freshman, join him in that unit.
Personnel changes were still being made by Crowe on Wednesday, when he had to change positions for yet another player. Just one day after head coach Jack Crowe announced that five players had changed positions, the injury bug has bitten the Gamecocks, forcing him to announce another positional change. Backup offensive guard Adam Wright switched sides of the ball, moving to fill a void left by an injury to defensive lineman Martez House.
“We have, as of late, moved another player,” Crowe said. “This one is more dramatic because it is from offense to defense. Adam Wright, who has been our backup right guard, has been moved to defense. Martez House has a medical situation that is going to keep him out for a substantial length of time, and that’s the reason we moved Adam. Adam represents the sixth player that has changed positions in the last two days, and they are all due to the inexperience and the unknown part of this team.”
House, a 6-foot-2 redshirt freshman from Crestview, Fla., is one of three players that Crowe mentioned will miss substantial time due to undisclosed medical reasons. Freshman wide receiver Markis Merrill will also be sidelined for a significant period, as will senior linebacker Nick Johnson.
“We have some sustained medical situations that are substantial and are going to have us without some guys,” Crowe added. “Markis Merrill is not going to be with us for a while, which leaves a void at our sixth wide receiver position. Nick Johnson is another one who has significant amount of medical time in which he is not going to be there.
“These things are facilitating some of these moves. But we are finding out who we are. We are dealing with what we’ve got to deal with. Everybody who is young and formative, since we are in a formative state, we are having to read them as we go and play the cards we are dealt. I don’t feel any less excited about coming out here.”
One of those changes from Tuesday impressed Crowe immediately. The 12th-year head coach was able to watch freshman Elijah Jenkins, a quarterback signee out of Birmingham that moved to safety on Tuesday, play in the defensive secondary for the first time and he liked what he saw.
“I don’t know if Eli Jenkins has ever played safety in his life, but I got to see him play back there yesterday and, wow, he is talented,” Crowe added. “But he is a fish out of water right now.”
Crowe used his last Two-A-Day workout more as a development session after the recent dings and personnel moves his team has experienced.
“Today is our last two-a-day practice in a formal sense,” Crowe said. “And this one got reduced very quickly down to a low-impact practice, just because of the physical state that we have found ourselves in and the need to go back and get some background and teaching.”
Crowe sees the recent changes not as hurdles but as progress, and he and his Gamecocks are eager to continue preparing for next week’s kickoff.
“I’m excited and I think the players are excited,” Crowe said. “There is no less motivation right now than we have ever had on this field to be successful. There is a spirit and drive, and we are really just trying to do the right thing as coaches. We have talked about one player in our meetings more than we ever have before, but it is all in the name of progress, and we are making progress. “
To see the complete depth chart, click here.
Courtesy JSU Media Relations