Just hours after accepting the resignation of former head coach Bill Clark, JSU officials moved swiftly to find its new guy- and he comes from within. The Gamecocks named offensive coordinator John Grass as the school's new head coach. The former Oxford High School coach led the Gamecock offense to several offensive records on the way to an eleven-win season.
The following is JSU's official press release announcing the hiring (Courtesy: JSU Sports Information):
Jacksonville State University has named John Grass its newest head football coach, JSU President Dr. William A. Meehan and athletics director Warren Koegel announced on Tuesday evening.
Grass served as the Gamecocks' assistant head coach and offensive coordinator in 2013 and orchestrated an offense that set numerous school, OVC and National records. He replaces Bill Clark, who informed the Gamecocks on Tuesday that he would be leaving to take the head coaching vacancy at UAB.
Grass will be formally introduced Thursday at 5 p.m. on the fifth floor of Stadium Tower at Burgess-Snow Field.
A 1990 graduate of JSU, Grass joined Clark's staff in 2013 after serving as a head coach at the high school level for over 17 years and compiling a 122-61 career record along the way.
His first season at JSU exceeded all expectations. His offensive unit was the most prolific in JSU history, breaking school records en route to helping the Gamecocks post an 11-4 record and advance to the Quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs. JSU rolled over No. 16 Samford, 55-14, in the first round before a convincing 31-10 win at No. 6 MicNeese State in the second round.
After a loss at No. 3 Eastern Washington in the Quarterfinals, the Gamecocks were ranked No. 10 in The Sports Network FCS Top 25, the highest in the program's Division I history, while a No. 12 ranking in the FCS Coaches Poll tied the previous high set in 2010. The Gamecocks finished the year with an 11-4 record, the most wins in the program's Division I history and tying the 1977 team for the fourth-most wins in a season in school history.
Grass' offense was record breaking in every phase and highlighted a season that saw the Gamecocks set a total of 49 school records, 13 Ohio Valley Conference records and three NCAA records.
A quick-strike attack that scored 24 times on drives of less than one minute, the Gamecock offense amassed 6,637 yards of total offense, 1,755 yards more than any team in school history, and racked up 528 points, 107 more than the previous record set in 1991. JSU's 65 touchdowns were a new school record, while its school record 48 rushing touchdowns also broke the OVC mark.
Leading the rushing attack was junior All-American DaMarcus James. Also a first team All-OVC selection, James ran for a school record 1,477 yards and was second nationally with 29 rushing touchdowns to break the JSU and OVC records in that category. James' 174 points scored also broke the previous JSU and OVC records.
James also set a JSU and OVC record with five rushing touchdowns at Austin Peay and joined teammates Eli Jenkins, Troymaine Pope and Miles Jones to become the first foursome to each run for 100 yards in the same game in FCS history against Jacksonville on Sept. 7.
The ground game wasn't the only thing that guided the Gamecocks in 2013. Despite having to start three different starting quarterbacks because of injuries during the season, Grass' offense threw for a school record 3,033 yards. Quarterback Eli Jenkins earned Freshman All-America honors after throwing for 887 yards and running for 953 more, while junior Max Shortell threw for 1,608 yards to earn Second Team All-OVC recognition.
Freshman receiver Josh Barge was also a Freshman All-American after setting new JSU freshman records for catches (58) and receiving yards (885). He led a corps of 19 different JSU players to catch at least one pass during the season.
Prior to coming to JSU in 2013, Grass was head coach at Oxford High School from 2008-2012, where he posted five straight winning seasons and a 41-16 record. He helped the Yellowjackets reach the playoffs four out of the five seasons he was there, including the schools first-ever appearance in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A State semi-finals in 2011.
While serving as head coach at Spain Park High School from 2006-2007, Grass was named the 2007 AHSAA Class 6A Coach of the Year after leading his team to the state championship game. Grass led his team against Clark's Prattville squad in that Class 6A State Championship as Prattville claimed a 14-0 win.
Grass coached at Moody High School from 2003-2005, where he took over a team that had won six games in the previous six years before he took control. In 2004, he led his team to the 2004 Class 4A quarterfinals for the first time in school history.
From 2002-2003, Grass was head coach at Albertville High School, a school that had won five games in the three years before he took over, and led them to the 2002 Class 5A quarterfinals. While at Albertville, Grass was named the 2002 Class 5A Coach of the Year.
Grass spent two seasons as the Offensive Coordinator for Hoover High School from 2000-2001. He ran an offense that posted an impressive 28-2 record during his two seasons, including the 2000 Class 6A State Championship and an appearance in the State Championship again in 2001.
Grass's first head coaching job came at Ashville High School, where he coached from 1995-1999. He guided his team to back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time in school history in 1998 and 1999, including the schools first-ever 10-0 regular season record in 1999.
Grass also served as an assistant coach at Eufaula High School and Ashville High School. While at Eufaula High School from 1993-1994, he served as Defensive Coordinator and Strength and Conditioning Coach while helping the school reach the 5A quarterfinals in 1993.
He began his coaching career at Ashville High School from 1990-1992, where he served as Offensive Coordinator and Strength and Conditioning Coach. While at Ashville, he helped the school reach the state semifinals for the first time in school history.
Grass graduated from Jacksonville State in 1990 with a degree in physical education. He received a Masters of Physical Education from JSU in 1997 and an EDS in Administration in 2010 from Lincoln Memorial University