By Carl Prather| August 5, 2011 at 9:43 PM CDT - Updated August 21 at 10:36 PM
– Head football coach Jack Crowe was pleased with Jacksonville State's first practice of the 2011 season on Friday and called it the best looking football team he has had during his 12 years of guiding the Gamecocks.
"The seniors and guys that are returning seem to be better than when they left," Crowe said after the 6:15 a.m. practice. "We are bigger and faster and should be a better team.
"It's the best looking football team, but the size and movement of people is also considerably better than it's ever been."
Crowe was especially pleased with the play of Clarence Jackson, who enrolled at Jax State on June 2 after transferring from Ole Miss.
"A player that I'm glad that I see who has enormous potential is Clarence Jackson," said Crowe. "He is a big, fast football player and is very athletic. We are very fortunate to have him.
"He plays inside (linebacker) but could play both (inside and outside) of them. He seems to be energized by practice and that's always a good sign of a really good player," Crowe added.
Jackson played linebacker in four games as a sophomore for Ole Miss in 2010, including seeing his first action in JSU's 49-48 double-overtime win over the Rebels. He was listed as the No. 16 athlete in the country by ESPN.com coming out of high school, when he was a first-team all-region and Player of the Year at North Clayton (Ga.) High School in Atlanta.
Jacksonville State returns to the practice field on Saturday at 6:15 a.m., when the Gamecocks continue working in helmets. JSU will practice in pads for the first time on Tuesday, Aug. 9.
The Gamecocks open the 2011 season on Thursday, Sept. 1, against Ohio Valley Conference foe UT Martin. Game time is set for 6 p.m. at Burgess-Snow Field. Season tickets are still available by calling the JSU Athletic Ticket Office at 256-782-8499.