【AL】 South Alabama football notes: Veteran Jalen Wayne gets No. 5 jersey for Louisiana Tech game – Alabama News

#South #Alabama #football #notes #Veteran #Jalen #Wayne #jersey #Louisiana #Tech #game

South Alabama wide receiver Jalen Wayne will wear the honorary No. 5 jersey for Saturday night’s game vs. Louisiana Tech.

It’s a first-time honor for Wayne, a sixth-year senior who is the longest-tenured member of the Jaguars team. The former Spanish Fort star has been around the program so long he remembers the 5 jersey in its first iteration, when it was a season-long award bestowed by former head coach Joey Jones.


Wommack says Louisiana Tech week ‘massive’ for Jaguars

Kickoff time announced for South Alabama’s Oct. 1 game at Louisiana

Wommack explains failed fake field goal vs. UCLA, cites Alabama 2011 play

5 things we learned from South Alabama’s 32-31 loss to UCLA

“It was (safety) Malcolm Buggs that got it my freshman year, and he had it the whole season,” Wayne said. “So I knew how serious it was; it was a big deal. When it became a game-to-game thing last season, I watched a lot of guys that got it. And I just wanted to see what qualities and whatever they were showing in order to get it.

“So this year I wanted to show that I could be up for the selection. I’m glad that I got it. I’m grateful that I got it. I’m appreciative of it.”

South Alabama coach Kane Wommack (a Jones assistant in 2016-17) restored the 5 jersey honor when he took over the program last season, but changed it to a game-by-game award. The 5 jersey is given out to a different player each week in memory of Anthony Mostella, a running back on the first Jaguars team in 2009 who was killed in a 2010 motorcycle accident.

The 6-foot-2, 207-pound Wayne leads the South Alabama team in receptions (20), yards (272) and touchdown catches (3) this season, and is likely to be on an NFL roster at this point in 2023. But it’s in his leadership skill that Wayne has proven most worthy of the 5 jersey, Wommack said.

“I am as proud as I’ve ever been to give the No. 5 jersey away,” Wommack said. “I’ve known J-Wayne for a long time, saw him as a freshman, watched him grow under our program in the last 18 months as an individual, and then collectively as a teammate.

“What’s really rewarding is to see him do everything right in our process, and then also be rewarded on game day. He is becoming a consistent football player that lets his athleticism show out on game day. That’s really exciting for us. And it’s also exciting for his future at the next level.”

Previous recipients of the 5 jersey this season are safety Keith Gallmon (Nicholls), cornerback Darrell Luter (Central Michigan) and center James Jackson (UCLA). Jackson actually wore 50 because NCAA rules require offensive lineman to wear a number from 50-79.

• South Alabama conducted its first full practice Tuesday morning since returning from UCLA, working for more than 90 minutes at the Jaguar Training Center.

Wommack said his team’s energy level was good, an indicator the Jaguars have bounced back mentally from their first loss of the season. South Alabama led UCLA for much of the game before losing 32-21 on a last-second field goal.

“We just had a great practice today,” Wommack said. “… This week is going to be a week about responding. We win, we’ve got to respond and take out all the noise and all those things. We come up short, we’ve got to respond in the way that we come back this week.

“I think this is a pivotal week for our program, just because we haven’t always been a team that knows how to respond to adversity. Certainly a year ago we were not that kind of team. I think we took a step right in the right direction today.”

As Wommack noted, South Alabama losses have had a tendency to snowball in recent years. After the Jaguars opened the 2021 season 3-0, they lost two straight and then seven of their last nine to finish 5-7.

Only once since 2015 has South Alabama followed up its first loss of the season with a win. That was in 2019, when the Jaguars lost their opener to Nebraska, beat Jackson State and then lost nine in a row before winning their season-finale vs. Arkansas State to finish 2-10.

• One hindrancw in the early going for the Jaguars has been cramping during games, something most teams deal with in September while the weather is still hot.

It became an issue in Saturday’s loss to UCLA, when top running back La’Damian Webb was unavailable for parts of the second half due to leg cramps. However, Wommack said he doesn’t consider it a major problem team-wide, but maybe one more isolated to Webb, who missed much of preseason camp while recovering from offseason foot and hand injuries.

“I think some of it is just being in playing shape,” Wommack said. “You look at the first quarter of the season and you’re going to have some of those things. You look at a guy like La’Damian and he didn’t get to go through (all of) fall camp. And that certainly is going to hurt anybody when you’re getting into playing shape. And when you’re straining to the level that he has to strain to play like he does on Saturday. But I think some of it will take care of itself when it gets cooler.”

Webb had the best game of his short South Alabama career vs. UCLA, rushing for 127 yards on 16 carries and also catching six passes for 42 yards. Through three games, the junior-college transfer is on pace for more than 1,200 rushing yards and more than 1,600 all-purpose yards.

• South Alabama suffered a number of injuries to key players vs. UCLA, as cornerback Jamar Richardson, linebacker Quentin Wilfawn and tight ends Lincoln Sefcik and Brandon Crum were all knocked out of the game and did not return.

Of those, only Richardson’s injury is considered reasonably serious, and even then, less so than originally feared. The Jaguars’ starting field cornerback left the UCLA game twice due to injury and had a temporary cast on his right arm Tuesday, but Wommack said the timeline for his return is far shorter than it might have been otherwise.

“We may have to go without him for a week or two here, but he’ll be back soon enough,” Wommack said.

While Richardson is out, junior-college transfer Marquise “Cuddie” Robinson is most likely to fill in as the first-team cornerback opposite Luter. Freshman Ricky Fletcher will also see extensive playing time.

• It’s still early, but South Alabama’s strong showing through three weeks has led many to project that the Jaguars’ season will extend past 12 games for the first time since 2016.

Numerous media outlets are publishing weekly bowl projections this season. South Alabama (2-1) still needs four victories in its final nine games to reach bowl-eligibility, but many observers figure the Jaguars will get there.

Brad Crawford of 247 Sports has the Jaguars in the Birmingham Bowl vs. UNLV. That game takes place Dec. 27 at Protective Stadium in Birmingham.

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach has South Alabama in the Camellia Bowl vs. Eastern Michigan, as does Erick Smith of USA Today. That game takes place Dec. 27 at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.

ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura has the Jaguars in the Frisco Bowl vs. Rice. That game takes place Dec. 17 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm has South Alabama in the Gasparilla Bowl vs. Virginia. That game takes place Dec. 23 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

Yahoo Sports has the Jaguars in the Cure Bowl vs. SMU. That game takes place Dec. 16 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.

Brett McMurphy of the Action Network does not have South Alabama in a bowl in his latest projections.

• South Alabama returns to the practice field on Wednesday morning. Kickoff Saturday vs. Louisiana Tech is set for 6 p.m. at Hancock Whitney Stadium.

Read More Latest News From United States of Alabama

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *