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South Alabama head coach Kane Wommack is one of four Group of Five coaches selected this week to the Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant Award watch list. All of the available tickets have been sold for Thursday night’s critical Sun Belt Conference game against rival Troy at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Jaguar quarterback Carter Bradley has become a name that college football fans across the nation are getting to know.

Has the South Alabama program turned a corner in Wommack’s second season as the head coach?

"When you look at a body of work and what we've done to this point, we've operated with consistency,” Wommack said. “We haven't always played our best football and have had some lulls in certain games, but we haven't had just a bunch of mistakes. We know what to do and we're getting better at the fundamental execution of that. I think this team gains confidence every time they step out on the field. Our guys get a taste of winning and all they want is more of it. They recognize the only reason we are winning is because of the detail it takes to accomplish that relentless consistency, and I think our players have a hunger for that."

Truthfully, the South Alabama football program is still in its infancy. The Jaguars first game was a 30-13 victory over Hargrave Military Academy in Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Sept. 5, 2009. On Thursday night, a national television audience on ESPNU will tune into sparkling Hancock Whitney Stadium to watch the Jaguars and Trojans tussle for the Sun Belt West lead.

Times have changed.

“This is an exciting week for our fans and exciting for the conference to have two teams that have positioned themselves to compete at the highest level of our league halfway through the season on a Thursday night on national TV in a rivalry game,” Wommack said.

For the Jaguars, it’s important. on Thursday and any other game day, that they get contributions throughout the lineup. Caullin Lacy is a perfect example of a player who has steadily progressed into one of those players.

As a true freshman, the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Mobile native, who played at Faith Academy, had 11 catches for 98 yards in 11 games with one start. Last season, in Wommack’s first season, the numbers jumped to 41 catches for 291 yards but something was missing.

“When I took this job, I was aware of Caullin just because I had recruited down here, and was aware of his skill set and what he did at Faith,” Wommack said. “As I watched the tape and saw some of the things that he did during the 2020 season, I thought he had a really good skill set. Caullin will tell you this, but I was very hard on Caullin last year. I saw a player who was young and had great promise, but one who didn't pay attention to the details that it takes to become an elite player in this league.”

This year is different. Lacy has team leads in receptions (35) and receiving yards (503). He also has three touchdown receptions and was one of three receivers with at least 100 yards receiving in last week’s win over Louisiana-Monroe.

“I saw a lot of positive momentum from him a year ago,” Wommack said. “He's now playing with consistency. He takes care of the ball when he gets it in his hands. He runs great routes and executes his assignment situationally and otherwise. Now, he is starting to play with a confidence in which he expects to be the person that makes play, and that is why I think he's playing at such a high level right now.”

Will somebody else on the South Alabama roster be that guy to step up against Troy?

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email steve.irvine@1819news.com.

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