After the strong showing of the defensive line at Saturday’s scrimmage, we figured the time was right for the defensive line preview, so I contacted Jacksonville State D- Line Coach Dan Augustine. The 2009 season will be Dan Augustine’s 4th season at JSU. After playing at Baylor for four years, Augustine spent time coaching at Missouri Western, the University of Louisiana-Monroe, and Southwest Baptist. Coach Augustine provided some outstanding insight about JSU’s defensive line for 2009.

From last year’s team, Duane Tolbert was the only senior. Coach Augustine described Tolbert as the emotional leader of the unit. “Duane was hurt for the UT Martin game, and didn’t make the trip with us. It was very evident that we missed him on the field because of his leadership”, said Augustine.

The good news is that there are several people ready to step up their play in 2009, but Coach Augustine is particularly happy about the overall depth of the unit: “I like to be at least 2-deep, and even 3-deep. That allows us to be able to rotate people, based on feel or down-and-distance situations. We’ll be fresher in the 4th quarter, and I want my guys to be able to go hard at the end of the game.” Augustine is also excited about a shift in scheme… “At the end of this past season, I talked with Coach Crowe in review of the season, and then looking forward. We were able to bring some pressure with 3 guys last year, but I thought we would be more effective by bringing a 4th player. That will reduce the double-teams we face at the line of scrimmage.” That pressure will be a byproduct of JSU’s philosophy of recruiting athletes at the defensive line position, Augustine states: “They don’t have to be the biggest; I want athletes. I look for speed and the ability to make a play.”

I mentioned to Coach Augustine the difference I saw in the defensive line from the first scrimmage to the one this weekend. He told me he talked with the players after the first scrimmage. He told them it was up to them to step up, to play with emotion, and to be leaders. From what I saw Saturday, they did.

Augustine’s Comments on the leaders of the D-Line for 2009:

“We have two seniors; Santez Mays (DE, 6’1”, 255) and Brandt Thomas (NT, 6’3”, 290). These two players got here the same year I did. Both of these guys have played a lot over their 3 years here. They both have high character and set great examples.” Brandt Thomas was second team All-OVC last season and was one of the team leaders in sacks.

Coach Augustine then commented that JSU is building around four key players for the future, all of which are expected to make substantial contributions next season:

Jamison Wadley (DE, 6’3”, 260) – Had shoulder surgery, but should be back this summer and ready for the season. Wadley sat out the 2007 season as a Redshirt at Southern Miss. He had 29 tackles last season, with eight tackles for a loss. Wadley was rated a 2 star player by Rivals coming out of high school and was the Gadsden Times’ Defensive Player of the Year.

Michael Ellis (NT, 6’2”, 285). Coach Augustine on Ellis: “He has the ability to be very explosive. With effort, he can be the best Nose Tackle we’ve had in the last 5 years.” (Coach Augustine wasn’t here before that, and didn’t want to exaggerate by saying 10 or 20 years)

Monte Lewis (DE, 6’3”, 251). Augustine says: “Maybe the best compliment to Monte is that the offense talks about him more than any other defensive lineman. In the Tennessee State game last year, Monte really rose up. He is very physical, and plays hard.”

Rodney “Texas” Garrott (DE, 6’2”, 235) Rodney was creating havoc at Saturday’s scrimmage. Augustine says that when he first came out of high school, he was an “in-betweener” in our system, meaning his size put him somewhere between a linebacker and a defensive end. The shift to rushing a 4th player really has benefitted Rodney.

After talking with Coach Augustine, these four will definitely be on my radar – for the next three seasons (as they are all sophomores). If they are as good as advertised, the defensive line should be stout next year.
Who else might help?

Demetrio Tyson (DE, 6’2”, 275) Coach Augustine says Tyson “has a lot of upside”. He was a Redshirt last year, so he still has 4 years of eligibility. “The ability is there…and we expect good things from him. He is very ‘slippery’.” Tyson was named to the Southeast Sun’s Super 12 team out of high school.

Kevin Dix (LB/DE, 6’2”, 260) Played LB at Dodge City Community College where he earned all conference honors.. Dix will play some DE at JSU. Kevin has great speed; he even returned 12 kickoffs last year for an average of 20.8 yards per return. Expect Kevin to contribute right away. Dix is athletic and holds the Georgia High School record for Triple Jump at 47 feet, 8 inches.

Josh Lewis (DE, 6’5”, 245) After originally committing to Clemson, Lewis played at East Central Community College. Prior to playing at ECCC, Lewis had a stellar high school career and was selected to play in the prestigious Alabama – Mississippi high school all star game. He was also named team MVP and second-team All-South at ECCC. Augustine states: “He’s another guy that we are looking to for significant contribution in 2009.”

In summary, Coach Augustine feels that this will be a good year for the team, for the defense, and for the defensive line. “I’m looking forward to the challenges of the upcoming season. We have a great group of linemen. We’ll be ready.” If the d-line will play with the enthusiasm and intensity it had on Saturday, it should be fun. And I think they can still get better.

JSU 86


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