Published Aug. 04, 2023, 2:19 p.m.
By Creg Stephenson |
Temperatures in the mid-90s have been commonplace in the Mobile area this summer, but Friday was an especially hot day on the South Alabama football practice fields.
The Jaguars opened preseason camp outdoors in shorts and helmets Friday morning, with temperatures in the high 90s overall and upwards of 100 on the artificial turf at the Yance Practice Facility. Third-year head coach Kane Wommack said Friday’s practice was “pretty clean” despite the oppressive heat.
“I would say with the heat index, that was probably the hottest practice we’ve had since we’ve been here,” Wommack said. “The guys, they’ve got to adjust to those things. Nothing that you do in the summertime can prepare you for those first couple days of fall camp, but that’s what we need to push through.
“I’m really pleased with some of the leadership that I’m seeing from our guys, especially the older players that have been in this program. They’ve taken care of their bodies the right way, and so that they can push just a little bit more than some of these other players. And they’re able to lead because of it. So I think we’re in a really good place there.”
South Alabama will alternate days between indoors and under the roof of the Jaguar Training Center for the first week of camp. The Jaguars will put full pads on for the first time Aug. 10, and have scrimmage scheduled at Hancock Whitney Stadium for Aug. 12 and Aug. 19.
Quarterback Carter Bradley said the Jaguars used the heat to their advantage on Friday.
“It’s great adversity for this team,” Bradley said. “I love it. I’s great to be back out here. We’ve been working all summer in OTAs, but it’s a good group. We’re excited. We’re hungry. We’re ready to go.”
• One scholarship player was absent from Friday’s practice. Running back Damean Bivins has elected to give up football after graduating from South Alabama over the summer, Wommack said.
Bivins came to South Alabama from Pace (Fla.) High School in 2019 and got into three games as a true freshman that fall. But he’s been troubled by injuries since, missing two entire seasons and most of another due to problems with his foot, shoulder and neck.
Bivins is the fourth scholarship player to leave the South Alabama program since the end of spring practice, joining punter Jack Brooks, running back Bryan Hill and defensive back Jason Brooks (no relation to Jack). Jack Brooks and Bryan Hill elected to enter the workforce after finishing school, while Jason Brooks departed in search of more playing time.
Bivins’ departure leaves the Jaguars with six scholarship running backs: returning starter La’Damian Webb, top back-ups Braylon McReynolds and Marco Lee, Ole Miss transfer Kentrel Bullock and true freshmen Jarvis Durr and PJ Martin.
• South Alabama linebacker Quentin Wilfawn is back from injury this fall, and was sporting one new piece of jewelry Friday — a wedding band on his left ring finger.
Wilfawn will play his final season with the Jaguars as a married man. He wed his long-time girlfriend — the former Bradyn Webb, a fellow South Alabama student — in July.
“We’ve been dating for a while now, and it was time,” Wilfawn said. “But it’s been good. It lets me know I’ve got someone to go home to every night and I can really focus on what I need to focus on.”
Wilfawn, who missed most of last season following surgery to remove a bone spur from his neck, is set to start at the “Wolf” outside linebacker spot in 2023. He began last season as the starting “Stinger” (weak inside) linebacker position, but Trey Kiser played so well in his absence that coaches felt comfortable moving Wilfawn outside to help generate more pass rush.
• South Alabama’s first-team offensive line Friday was the first one that ended the spring — Josh McCulloch at left tackle, James Robinson at left guard, Reggie Smith at center, Dontae Lucas at right guard and Adrein Strickland at right tackle.
Smith shifted over to center in the spring to replace departed senior James Jackson, with Lucas sliding from left guard to right and Robinson moving in at left guard. McCulloch and Strickland started at the two tackle positions last season.
At least in the early going, the second-team offensive line appears to be Malachi Carney at left tackle, Reed Buys at left guard, Kenton Jerido at center, Reid Gavin at right guard and Jordan Davis at right tackle.
• South Alabama is back on the field Saturday morning at the Jaguar Training Center. The Jaguars open the 2023 season at Tulane on Sept. 2.

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