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Key Players to Watch in South Alabama Spring Football

South Alabama Jaguars
© Bryan Terry-USA TODAY Sports

The South Alabama Jaguars are looking to kick off the Major Applewhite era with a competitive spring game for the fans inside Hancock Whitney Stadium on April 20. With Kane Wommack taking the Alabama defensive coordinator job back in February, the Jags elevated Applewhite from his offensive coordinator role to be the fourth head coach for the relatively young program.

This was the best possible choice for Athletic Director Joel Erdmann to make as it calmed the locker room and gave the players a familiar face that they could trust to lead them into battle week in and week out.

When you look at other teams like Washington and James Madison, they lost the fight with the transfer portal, losing 10 or more big-time players each. Of course, the Jaguars did lose a couple of players including Yam Banks to Ole Miss and Marquise Robinson to Arkansas, but as a whole, Applewhite and company did a fantastic job keeping the dream alive for the Mobile kids. Here are some of the new faces that everyone should be excited to see during the spring activities.

Who to watch in South Alabama Spring Football

Despite the loss of several starters on both sides of the ball after the Jaguars finished the 2023 season 7-6 overall with a 68 Ventures Bowl win, Applewhite will rely on a number of players to keep South Alabama competitive in the Sun Belt Conference.

Gio Lopez, Quarterback

Lopez is the projected starter for the 2024 season with the graduation of former team leader Carter Bradley. With only seeing limited action last season the young dual-threat quarterback needs every bit of spring camp to push himself into the heartbeat of this offense.

Lopez completed his 2023 season with 6 total touchdowns and 2 interceptions with just over an 80 QB rating. The Jaguars went 1-2 in games where Lopez took a minimum of half the offensive snaps. The win coming from the 68 Ventures Bowl blowout victory against Eastern Michigan and the loss was an ugly rivalry game in his first career start for South Alabama.

Noah Toster, Wide Receiver

Toster is a 6-foot-5 wideout from the Division II level. As he brings his quick route running skills to Hancock Whitney Stadium, he could be a big play maker with the mixture of size and speed. This is the kind of receiver the Jags have been missing since Jalen Tolbert left.

Jared Hollins, Quarterback

Hollins is the hometown kid. He just finished his playing career at Mary G. Montgomery (MGM) High School in Semmes, Ala., where he led the Vikings to their first-ever playoff win in school history. Hollins and the Vikings went undefeated in the regular season then followed that up with a trip to Central Phoenix City in the semi-finals where they fell short to the Devils.

Throughout his high school career Hollins threw for 50 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions while completing 67.5 percent of his passes. This is a kid that is always fun to watch and can storm his way up the depth chart.

Ricky Fletcher, Defensive Back

Fletcher is the only cornerback left on the roster that had significant playing time last year. As a junior, Fletcher must be the veteran in pass coverage because key pieces including Yam Banks and Marquise Robinson are no longer with the team. Fletcher has the skill to be the man to help safety Jaden Voisin, and hopefully improve on the unforgiving lack of passing defense last season.

Aakil Washington, Linebacker

Washington is a much-needed transfer grab for the South Alabama linebacker room. Once the 2023 season ended the Jaguars lost not one, not two, but three of their top linebackers. All of which led the team in tackles and sacks. Washington brings the veteran presence to the position group as he is a senior and he is thirsty for a revival after he left Liberty after four games of the 2023 season to ensure a redshirted season.

Tyler Carter, Defensive End

Carter is a dual-sport athlete that plays defensive end along with baseball. At 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, he is a force to be reckoned with on the edge.

He isn't a day one starter by any means, but he can see playing time throughout the season and work his way into starting reps in the near future. Maybe sooner rather than later if Carter continues showing out like he did in the Bernard Blackwell Classic All Star game.

The annual South Alabama spring game will begin at 1 p.m. EST. Admission to the game is free with the stadium gates opening at noon EST.


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