Only hours after Bill Clark informed Jacksonville State that he was taking the UAB job, JSU President Dr. William Meehan and Athletic Director Warren Koegel announced the promotion of former offensive coordinator, John Grass, as the new head coach of the Gamecocks.
“I’m really excited that we have a coach that has been with us. I have a lot of respect for John as a person and as a coach, and the players have a lot of respect for Coach Grass as a person and as a coach,” stated JSU A.D. Warren Koegel. “We feel very fortunate that we got a guy who is a Jacksonville State graduate who loves this university, who is going to be able to lead us on and continue what Bill Clark and the rest of the staff accomplished last year.”
Grass, like Coach Clark, was a 1990 graduate of JSU. He joined Clark’s staff last season as offensive coordinator leaving his job as head coach at Oxford High where he led the 6A program to five consecutive winning seasons and a 41-16 overall record. Prior to his time at Oxford, Grass spent a pair of seasons at 6A Spain Park where he was named the 2007 AHSAA Class 6A Coach of the Year after leading his Jaguars to the state championship where he fell to Bill Clark’s Prattville squad.
From 2000-2006, Grass made coaching stops at Moody, Albertville (where he earned the 2002 AHSAA Class 5A Coach of the Year) and Hoover.
In his debut season in the college ranks as JSU’s OC in 2013, Grass led an explosive offense that shattered the previous school records in total yards and points scored in a single season. Grass guided an offense that had to use three different starting quarterbacks throughout the season due to injuries and led the trio to passing for a school record of 3,033 yards.
Through the up-tempo style of offense, freshman receiver Josh Barge and freshman quarterback Eli Jenkins each earned All-American honors.
Coach Grass won’t have to rely on the air attack only as running back DaMarcus James returns for his final season after rushing for a school record 1,477 yards in 2013 and a school and conference record 29 rushing touchdowns.
The 2013 Gamecocks, with Grass as offensive coordinator, experienced their best season of Division I football.
Grass’ offense was on their way to potentially leading JSU to the FCS Semifinals before Jenkins and James both suffered injuries in the Quarterfinals at Eastern Washington in what resulted as a 35-24 season-ending loss.
“It’s a blessing, said Grass just hours after being promoted to head coach. “It’s a great opportunity, with the circumstances that arose with Coach Clark going to UAB. I felt blessed last year to become part of this University as a football coach. I’m looking to build on the success we had last year. I’m excited about that opportunity and continuing that success.”
The last time JSU ran through three coaches in three years was 1983-1985 with Jim Fuller, Joe Hollis and Bill Burgess. The third in line, Burgess, was a former coach at Oxford High who later led Jacksonville State to their only National Championship in school history. Fans hope history can repeat itself.
Coach Grass will be formally introduced as the 14th head coach at Jacksonville State at 5:00 today on the fifth floor of Stadium Tower at Burgess-Snow Field.