In the history of Southern University Football, only two coaches have conquered such feats as winning the SWAC West Title, SWAC Championship and being named SWAC Coach of the Year in their first season as head coach. Current Head Football Coach Dawson Odums holds that unique distinction as he looks to take the program to even higher heights as he embarks on his second season at Southern University here on the bluffs of the Mississippi River in 2014.
The Jaguar Nation witnessed its largest win total since the 2003 season and rejuvenated a national fan base that finished the season No. 1 in HBCU and in the Top 10 of FCS in attendances.
With over 16 years of coaching experience under his belt, Coach Odums lacks no motivation for the 2014 season as he looks to continue the winning ways Southern accumulated in his 2nd season by instilling the core values of a Jaguar (Commitment, Discipline, Effort, Toughness & Pride) on a daily basis in all faucets of the program.
During 2013's magical run, Odums had his team play through a streak where he dominated the SWAC competition going 9-2 in the SWAC Conference. Among the signatures moments during the 2013 season, Southern secured overtime victories versus SWAC competitors Prairie View (62-59), Alabama A&M (20-17), & SWAC Eastern Title winner Jackson State in the Championship Game (34-27). In his first ever collegiate head coaching position, Coach Odums has a winning percentage of .692% (9-4) and a combined overall head coaching record at Southern of .591% (13-9).
Statistically, Odums had all three facets of the game clicking on the field as his team had 16 categories finished in the Top 3 of the SWAC conference and 10 categories ranked in the Top 30 of the FCS final football standings.
Fueling Southerns's climb to the 2013 SWAC Chammpionship was a cohesive and efficient unit that ranked in the FCS Top 50 in several categories including third down conversion percentage (42nd), blocked kicks (45th), first down defense (50th), interceptions thrown (50th) and passing yards allowed (48th).
Led by a prolific offense, Southern also posted Top 40 rankings in the FCS in completion percentage (33rd), passing offense (20th), passing yard per completion (24th), scoring offense (36th), team passing efficiency (14th).
Southern specials teams unit finished ranked No. 1 in the FCS in blocked punts allowed (0) and finished ranked in the Top 30 in blocked kicks allowed (27th), blocked punts (15th), kickoff returns (10th) and punt return defense (10th).
Significant individual accolades ranging from All FCS to All Conference were accumulated due to the discipline Coach Odums teaches daily about “Team first, Me second” with All-SWAC honorees like Dray Joseph, Lee Doss, Jamal Mosely, Anthony Balancier, Virgil Williams, & Arthur Miley.
The highlights for the Jaguars do not stop there, 13 players earned their college degree in the 2013-2014 school year, while the fall semester produced 23 football players on the 3.0 Dean’s GPA list. His emphasis on developing the “whole” student athlete is clearly present as more than 25 students-athletes have graduated during his time as head coach at Southern.
While serving as the interim head coach after two games in to the 2012 season, he accomplished the unthinkable feat of being one of only two coaches in Southern history to own the distinction of having defeated Grambling State, Jackson State, and Florida A&M all in the same season (Pete Richardson 1993).
Odums, entered the 2012 season as Southern’s defensive coordinator and academic liaison. Odums' previous title of defensive coordinator changed to interim head coach two games into the 2012 season. The North Carolina native and N.C. Central graduate proceeded to lead the Jaguars to wins over Jackson State and against Florida A&M after an 0-2 start, claiming the programs first consecutive win streak since 2009.
During his 9-game tenure, Odums is largely credited with the Jaguars' success, placing an emphasis on player discipline and accountability, which translated into wins on the football field. He also stressed the importance of academics and community involvement as a cornerstone for developing quality student-athletes both on-and-off the field.
While serving as interim head coach, Odums produced five all conference selections; first team selection WR Lee Doss and second team selections QB Dray Joseph, OL Christopher Brown, LB Anthony Balancier and DB Virgil Williams.
Odums joined the Jaguars defensive staff after three seasons in various positions at Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference traditional power, North Carolina A&T. Prior to his arrival in Baton Rouge, Odums most recently served as the Aggies Defensive Coordinator in 2010 after having served as the schools defensive line coach and special team’s coordinator in the previous two seasons.
Under Odums’ guidance, the Aggies players thrived both defensively as well as through special teams play. Brandon Jackson became the first Aggie in five seasons to record more than 100 tackles in a season with 106. D'Vonte Graham led the MEAC in interceptions with seven.
The Aggies returned four kicks for touchdowns, blocked four punts -- one for a touchdown -- and had two players ranked in the top 20 in kickoff return yardage per game. N.C. A&T special teams ranked in the top 50 in punt return defense (26th), kickoff return yardage per game (46th) and kickoff return defense (15th).
The Aggies also had several special teams’ highlights under Odums leadership. Quay Long shattered a school record with a 96-yard punt return against Bethune-Cookman on Oct. 31, 2009. Punter Alex Grubb had five punts over 50 yards and placed 18 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line.
Before going to N.C. A&T, Odums spent four seasons at Division II Clark Atlanta. From 2002 to 2003, he served as the Panthers assistant head coach, the defensive coordinator and the recruiting coordinator. In 2004, he earned his first opportunity to head a collegiate program when he took over as Clark Atlanta's interim head football coach. A year later, the interim label was removed from his title as he became the Panthers head coach.
Following his coaching stint at Clark, Odums became an assistant at the Aggies’ MEAC rival, Bethune-Cookman University. From 2005-2007 he coached the Wildcats' defensive line.
Odums has also been an assistant at Georgia Southern and Gardner-Webb.
He spent two seasons at Georgia Southern where he coached linebackers in 2000 and in 2001 coached the Eagles defensive ends. The 2000 season was a special year for Odums as he assisted the Eagles to the Division I-AA (now Football Championship Subdivision) National Championship.
Odums continues to improve his coaching philosophy and techniques by attending camps and conferences. He was recently selected to participate in the 2011 NCAA Expert Coaches Academy in Orlando, Fla. In the 2010, he was one of only 25 coaches selected from thousands of applicants to participate in the NCAA Coaches Academy in Indianapolis. The Academy is designed to train minorities for head coaching positions.
A native of Shelby, N.C., Odums began his coaching career returning to his high school alma mater, Crest High School. Odums turned in a stellar playing career for the Eagles of North Carolina Central University in Durham as a three-year starter and an All-CIAA selection his senior year, where he also served as a team captain. Following his playing career, he earned a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Physical Education in 1997
Coach Odums has been married to his beautiful wife Audrey for 16 years, and reside in Zachary with their two daughters, Jasmine (10) and Jaiden (2).