June 21, 2024


Exercise makes you strong

Three storylines for Jackson State football’s defensive line during spring practice

Jackson State‘s defensive line helped propel the Tigers to an FCS-best 55 sack in 2021. That’s 4.23 sacks per game. And that kind of pass-rush pressure is a big reason why the Tigers had the best defense in the SWAC last year.

Nearly half of those sacks came from James Houston IV, Antwan Owens and Keyonte Hampton, all of whom have graduated.

NEW TECHNIQUE: Jackson State football linebackers learning ‘Will Smith’ technique under Deion Sanders

NEW RULE: Here’s what Deion Sanders said on new NFL rule forcing teams to hire minority assistants

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE LINE: Three storylines for Jackson State football’s offensive linemen

That’s why JSU added four defensive linemen from the transfer portal, including three edge rushers.

As new players come in and try to prove they can rush the quarterback, here are three storylines for the defensive line during spring practice.

Pair of Florida State transfers

After landing coveted Florida State commitment Travis Hunter, former Seminole Deion Sanders added a pair of defensive line transfers from his alma mater.

Josh Griffis, a 6-foot-4, 254-pound defensive end committed to FSU out of IMG Academy in Florida. He made four tackles in seven games.

Tru Thompson, a 6-foot, 308-pound defensive tackle, posted 1.5 sacks in two seasons at Florida State. He played in one game last year, against UMass. He played in eight games and posted seven tackles in 2020.

Coynis Miller in the middle

Auburn transfer Coynis Miller was one of the top-10 defensive tackles in the country for the class of 2018.

Last year was the first time the former four-star got consistent playing time at the college level. He played in 11 games for JSU, posting 20 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

This year, with that experience under his belt, he should be even more adept at plugging things up in the middle and making plays.

Katron Evans, who tied Miller in sacks with 1.5 as a freshman, should compete for time at defensive tackles as well.

More transfers on the edge

JSU also added Jason Mercier, a 6-foot-3, 262-pound defensive end from Florida International. He had his best season as a freshman in 2018 when he made 31 tackles. He most recently played for the Panthers in 2020, when he started four out of five games and recorded 19 tackles, including 3.5 for loss.

Former Texas A&M linebacker Antonio Doyle has converted to edge rusher after playing primarily on special teams in College Station. He was the No. 5 inside linebacker in the nation for the Class of 2020.

This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Three storylines for Jackson State defensive linemen during spring