(BillNow, where exactly are we going… exactly?

Where the rainbow ends.

– Gayle, Eyes Wide Shut (1999)


Good news for all the South Alabama Jaguars fans out there—even though you’re losing beloved HC Kane Womack, you are gaining one Major Applewhite in return. Applewhite was previously the OC for the past two seasons. He did a damn fine job in my opinion, especially in the development of the two gentlemen I’m spotlighting today.

In a dynasty league I participated in this past season, I made a trade to acquire LSU’s Malik Nabers in an effort to make a run at a championship in the league’s first year. Unfortunately, my boys came up short, and even more unfortunately, one of the players involved in the deal sent elsewhere was South Alabama’s Jamaal Pritchett.

Being the sick individual that I am, I watched the fiasco that was the 68 Ventures Bowl between Eastern Michigan and South Alabama in mid-December. I expected to see some fireworks from Pritchett—after all, it was the holiday season, and he had a very good sophomore campaign. I wasn’t expecting the pleasant surprise that was freshman QB Gio Lopez. Perplexed would probably be a good way to describe the feeling.

“I don’t know who you are or what you think you’re doing, but you obviously don’t belong here…” I said as I marked down both names onto my spreadsheet, hot cocoa in hand.

The moment of happiness was fleeting, however, as my next thought went to the portal. I wondered—in light of the current climate we’re in—if one or both of these lads wouldn’t use the opportunity to hit the portal following a big performance. Many a G5 stud did just that this offseason. However, it appears we’ve made it through to the other side, as both Lopez and Pritchett remain with the Jaguars (breathes a sigh of relief).


Coaching & System

Former SALA OC Major Applewhite received a promotion this offseason when former Jaguars HC Kenneth Wommack accepted a position with the Crimson Tide. That’s music to our ears because Applewhite oversaw a productive operation on offense down in Mobile. His WRs lately have become hot commodities on many a CFF manager’s radar.

Applewhite joined the Jaguars in 2019 as an analyst and served in that role for two seasons. In 2021, he was promoted to OC and QBs coach, which he served for the previous three seasons (2021-23). 

His first season was a success from a CFF standpoint. WR Jalen Tolbert secured 82 passes for 1,474 yards and eight scores, which was a fairly remarkable stat line considering his QB— Jake Bentley, had a pretty forgettable year. In fact, Bentley only threw 17 TDs in total.

The 2022 year was a better season from the QB position. Carter Bradley threw 28 passing TDs to only 12 INTs. However, the WR1’s stats were not as gaudy as the year prior. Devin Voisin caught 64 passes for 867 yards and five scores. 

This past season, it was Caullin Lacy who led the way from the slot, with 122 targets, of which he caught 91 for 1,316 yards and seven scores (~22 PPG).

Applewhite was the head coach of Houston from 2017-18 (odd, I know, considering he started as an analyst for SALA a year later). The 2018 season saw Marquez Stevenson catch 75 passes for 1,019 yards and nine scores. The previous season, it was Steven Dunbar Jr., who caught 76 passes for 1,070 yards and three scores.

Prior to these two seasons, he served as the OC of Houston (2015-16). His lead receiver in 2016 was Linell Bonner, who caught 98(!) passes for 1,118 yards and three scores. He failed to outdo his predecessor, however, as Demarcus Ayers led the Cougs in 2015 with 98 catches for 1,222 yards and six scores.

We talk about systems all the time at Volume Pigs, and sure, most coaches have a notable season somewhere in their track record. But I would say Applewhite’s system is a legitimate CFF producer that you need to follow. In the seven seasons we covered where he occupied a play-calling position, six of them produced a 1,000-yard receiver. 

Fun fact: Applewhite served on Nick Saban’s Alabama staff in 2007—and yep, he had a 1,000-yard receiver that year too. 

Many might mistake that gif above for a segment of a movie in which Tom Cruise is slow clapping. It is actually a recording of his reaction after I showed him the above facts. Stunned, Cruise then asked me if Applewhite would be receiving a KDPF license, to which I replied, “That designation is reserved for the RB position—but certainly, if we were to do one for the WR position, Applewhite would be near the top of the list.” 

However, I reassured Cruise that Applewhite was already on my Christmas mailing list for stuffed pigs, which I send annually in mid-December.


WR Jamaal Pritchett is a Future Star

The 5’8″, 165-pound rising junior out of Jackson, AL, finished 2023 on a strong note, showing strong rapport with future SALA QB1 Gio Lopez in the Jaguars’ Bowl Game vs. EMU. Pritchett caught two of Lopez’s three passing TDs and tallied eight receptions (10 targets) for 127 yards (32.7 points). On the year, Pritchett finished just shy of 1,000 yards, amassing a solid 883 yards receiving on 57 catches (86 targets) and eight scores (~15 PPG). He also took one handoff for 14 yards.

Although he appeared in eight games as a freshman in 2022, Pritchett failed to impress on the stat sheet, finishing with only two catches for 24 yards and no scores. Indeed, 2023 was a true breakout year, as he had season-highs of the aforementioned 32.7 points vs. EMU, 39.8 vs. ULLAF, and 20 vs. ArkST.

He did this while Caullin Lacy amassed 122 targets, of which he caught 91 for 1,316 yards and seven scores (~22 PPG). Lacy—for those unaware—has since departed the roster, transferring to Louisville. That’s a lot of vacated production from one player.

It should be noted that 2022’s WR1— Devin Voisin, had his 2023 season cut short due to a season-ending injury. He had a similar year to Pritchett in ‘22, averaging around 14 PPG. He returns in 2024, though with questions abound regarding his status upon recovery. 

Former Memphis Tiger Javon Ivory also continues to lurk in the shadows. However, as of writing this article, I like Pritchett to ascend into the WR1 role in the 2024 season. He looked the part in the Bowl Game vs. EMU, and he is a like-for-like build with former SALA slot receiver Lacy (5’10″, 180).


QB Gio Lopez — 6’1″, 225

The rising sophomore out of Huntsville, AL, had a fantastic end to his—otherwise unremarkable—2023 campaign. Against EMU, Lopez threw three passing TDs and scored another on the ground. He completed 14 of his 19 passes for 192 yards and ran seven times for 88 yards (~34 points).

That performance was obviously very good. However, it wasn’t the only extended action that Lopez saw in the year. On November 2nd, Lopez got a chance to start vs. the vaunted Troy defense. It wasn’t a great showing all around. Lopez failed to score a TD, though his passing overall wasn’t so bad (17/27 for 155 yards). RB1 LaDamian Webb only managed to rush for 53 yards and 15 attempts (3.5 YPC). Safe to say, it was just a tough day all around, and Troy routinely buzz-sawed opposing offenses that season.

Outside of those two games, he only really came in a few times late in games during blowouts, so the sample size to go off of here is low.


Closing

I have Lopez fairly high in my Q1 rankings report, but this profile could drop the more I mull it over. He could also rise if Spring reports sound optimistic. The good news is that he is one of two quarterbacks currently on the roster, so I feel fairly secure that he’s going to be the guy here to open the season—barring a major spring transfer.

I am pretty comfortable saying Pritchett will be a top receiver in my CFF rankings in Q2 and Q3.


Interested in this type of content? Good news, there’s an obscene amount over here: VolumePigs.

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