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19 December 2007
JSU Prepares to Sign 11 Newcomers Today

Al Muskewitz
Star Sports Writer

Reprinted here in its entirety.

Roosevelt Ross heard a lot of talk while he was being recruited out East Central Mississippi Community College, but it’s what he didn’t hear that might have made the difference in his coming to Jacksonville State.

Ross is expected to be one of six junior college players and 11 newcomers the Gamecocks land today when the mid-year signing period begins. And he figures to be the biggest catch.

The 5-foot-10, 210-pound running back chose JSU over Football Bowl Subdivision teams Troy and UL-Monroe partly because he liked what he heard — or the way he heard it.

“Everybody showed me love, but a lot of other schools, La-Monroe and Troy, their football players talked like they were better than everybody else, they’re I-A,” Ross said. “(JSU) was all down to Earth. They don’t set themselves on the pedestal like they’re better than anybody else. I respect them for that.”

Of course, there were technical reasons he chose the Gamecocks, too. He was recruited to Auburn out of high school by former offensive coordinator Al Borges and placed at Butler (Kan.) Community College, but his option of returning to the Tigers seemed to close when Borges left Auburn, taking his offensive philosophy with him. He wouldn’t have been comfortable in the spread styles of Troy and UL-Monroe.

As it turned out, the ‘I’ had it.

“I love the ‘I’,” he said. “I’m more comfortable (in it) than the spread or any other formation … I like to feel contact.”

Ross, likened to former JSU junior-college find Kory Chapman, but with better speed, rushed for 698 yards and eight touchdowns last year despite missing the last two games with a dislocated patella, an injury that rendered his left thigh three inches bigger than his right.

JSU coach Jack Crowe said last month that he planned to fill the gaps in his team with junior college prospects and transfers, and the expected haul today represents a substantial effort to upgrade the team quickly.

In addition to Ross, the Gamecocks are expected to sign former Lineville lineman Devon Hayes (Georgia Military College), receiver Jeff Cameron and linebacker Morrell Jones of Itawamba (Miss.) Community College, and Northeast Mississippi Community College cornerback C.J. Foster. Northeast center Reggie Wade is leaning toward JSU over North Carolina A&T.

Florida International teammates John Houston Whiddon, a receiver, and Devon Freeman, a running back, and Southern Miss defensive lineman Jamison Wadley of Etowah are expected to arrive in January, as are grayshirt defensive lineman Jasmine Gates of LaGrange, Ga., and running back/safety James Shaw of St. Clair County.

“An older team is better, it ought to be,” Crowe said last month. “This year when I saw Eastern Kentucky roll out with 20 seniors … I think they were a pretty good football team and I think they won a lot of games because they were a very mature football team.”

NCAA rules prevent him from talking about individual prospects until they’ve signed.

Jones is an original Florida State signee who was late getting out of the NCAA academic clearinghouse. He chose JSU over UT-Martin, Southern Illinois and Southeast Missouri.

Whiddon will follow his older brother Tommy Joe to JSU. The older Whiddon was a safety and special teamer before joining the JSU coaching staff as a graduate assistant last season.

John Houston — and he uses both names — was a regular return specialist and slot receiver his freshman year at FIU (he caught 11 passes for 111 yards), but saw his playing time cut considerably last year (four games, one catch) after a change in coaches. He chose JSU over Auburn, Alabama and Mississippi State — schools that recruited him out of high school — largely because of the chance to play right away on the FCS level.

“It was a big part,” he said, “plus I liked it up there. I was just ready to get out of Miami. It’s a whole new world down there. I was just ready to move back home.”

About Al Muskewitz

Al Muskewitz covers golf and Jacksonville State University sports teams for The Anniston Star.

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