By Mike McCall
We’re a few days away from Southern’s SWAC and home opener against Mississippi Valley State, and the biggest questions right now surround just whom the Jaguars will put on the field.
Injuries and another issue have meant murky playing statuses for a few key names. Here’s a quick rundown:
- SS Levi Jackson
Jackson suffered a bone bruise on his leg against New Mexico and had to leave the game, with D’Mekus Cook taking his place. He was at Monday’s practice in shorts, and Stump Mitchell said it’s more of a pain-management issue than anything. That doesn’t mean Jackson’s a wimp if he doesn’t play, as coach Stump Mitchell pointed out that he sustained the same injury during his NFL career, and it caused him to leave a game even though he was only a few yards away from triggering a contract bonus that he’d receive for gaining 100 rushing yards.
Prediction: I truly believe this one is 50-50, but Jackson is a tough guy, so I think he’ll play. Maybe not for the full game, but I think he gets out there.
- RBs Sylvester Nzekwe and Jerry Joseph
Finally, I bring you good news at running back! Nzekwe and Joseph are both back at practice and playing full speed, and they will play on Thursday. How much is the question, as Mitchell said he plans to ease them back by still using Darrius Coleman as the starter. Coleman was fine against UNM, but you’d like to see that expected tandem of Sly and JJ back there as soon as possible to try and revive Southern’s dormant rushing game.
Prediction: All three backs will get carries, but I expect Nzekwe to get the most. I’m feeling a little gamesmanship from Stump here, especially after he acted last week like they were a long way from recovering. I think he’s trying to fool the Delta Devils.
- WR Willie Quinn
This one is getting depressing. I’m just like the rest of you — I want to see this kid on the field! Quinn has been exciting at practice, but we’ve all been waiting to see whether that translates to in-game success. Now, it appears we’ll all be waiting a bit longer. Quinn’s paperwork issues with the NCAA are still on-going, and while the team expects him to be cleared, it’s looking like that won’t happen by Thursday. Because he’s ineligible, Quinn was in shorts at Monday’s practice, and he’ll stay that way until his status changes. It’s very wait-and-see right now, but the good news is that Mitchell said Quinn knows his slot-receiver role well enough that if he’s cleared later this week, he’ll be able to play despite the missed practices.
Prediction: Predict the NCAA Clearinghouse? I wouldn’t dare. The NCAA is a mystical palace of bureaucracy where logic goes to die, and I can’t even venture a guess at when or how this is resolved.
- WR Charles Hawkins
Hawkins was in shorts Monday and is dealing with a few nicks and bruises.
Prediction: I’m not worried about this one. He plays, unless the Jaguars simply feel they don’t need him against Valley.
- RT Taylon Jones
Jones has been out since preseason camp with a hand injury and concussion, making freshman Anthony Mosley the starter.
Prediction: There’s still no timetable on his return, so expect to see lots of Mosley going forward.