When Dawson Odums arrived at Southern University in 2011 as an assistant coach, he was new to the SWAC. He played in the CIAA (North Carolina Central), and coached in both the MEAC (Bethune-Cookman and North Carolina A&T) and the SIAC (Clark Atlanta).
Heading into spring 2021, he’s now the grizzled veteran among SWAC coaches. In fact, each of the other nine programs has undergone at least one coaching change since he took over in 2013.
The consistency in Baton Rouge has allowed Odums to mold his program in his image, something that he puts a lot of value in. It’s something that has helped his program have consistent success over his tenure as coaches come and go, even within his own program.
The last time Southern took the field in — in the 2019 SWAC Championship Game — its offensive coordinator was Chennis Berry. Berry left following the season to take over as head coach at Benedict College. Odums tapped Zach Grossi as his offensive coordinator to replace Chennis. He talked about how Grossi will fit in with what Southern has going at SWAC Media Day.
“Here at Southern University, we have an identity of who we are. We know our core values— offense, defense and special teams. So regardless of which coordinator comes in, it’s my responsibility as a leader to make sure they understand our core values and then they implement those into their creativity with their offense,” Odums said.
“Successful programs don’t do away with things just because somebody new comes in,” he said. “That’s where leadership comes into play.”
One of the biggest question marks for Southern as it heads into spring football 2021 is who will be the quarterback. Odums says the team has three quarterbacks who have started, all of who he thinks can lead his program to a championship. There is one, in particular, who many eyes will be on this season.
‘We know that room is going to be very competitive, but when you talk about LaDarius Skelton, it’s being a better manager of the game,” he said of the quarterback that took him to back-to-back SWAC West titles. “Taking care of the ball is the no. 1 responsibility at the quarterback position. If he can do that, the sky is the limit on how good of a quarterback he can be in this conference.”
He’s as good as advertised. We know he’s a dynamic runner. He’s a very good passer, I think he’s a better passer than he’s given credit for. But it’s the ball security.”