Daniel Mayes, Staff Writer

Coach John Grass was hired as the offensive coordinator at Jacksonville State University’s football program for the 2013 season.

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Head coach John Grass adjusts his head set during the Gamecocks 34-14 win over Austin Peay State University in 2016. (Matt Reynolds/JSU)

A head coach veteran of various Alabama high schools, Grass made his first foray into the college ranks at his alma mater when new head coach Bill Clark was brought in after JSU fired longtime coach Jack Crowe.

Clark led the Gamecocks to an immediate turnaround in his only year on the job before leaving to take control of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Grass was handed the keys to the JSU program in 2014.

Since Coach Grass took over the head coaching job, he has lifted the Gamecocks to previously unattainable heights.

In the three ensuing seasons, JSU has gone 33-6 overall and are still unbeaten at 23-0 in Ohio Valley Conference matchups, bringing home three OVC championship rings and securing three playoff berths in the process.

In his second season, Grass led the Gamecocks through the regular season with a 10-1 record with the only blemish coming in a 27-20 loss against Auburn in overtime.

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JSU players douse Coach Grass in (chilly) water after the Gamecocks beat Sam Houston State University 62-10, earning them a place in the  FCS National Championship for the first time in 23 years. (Steve Latham/JSU)

JSU earned the first overall seed in the FCS playoffs, and Grass guided the Gamecocks all the way through the playoffs to the FCS National Championship game, where they fell 37-10 to the North Dakota State Bison, who took home their fifth consecutive national title.

Grass has taken home the title of Roy Kidd Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year in each of his three seasons on the job, and, following the 2015 season, Grass was awarded the title of AFCA FCS National Coach of the Year

Grass brought a creative offensive system to Jacksonville, and, under his leadership, the Gamecocks’ offensive productivity has skyrocketed.

Prior to Grass’s arrival, JSU had never had a season with 5,000 years of total offense. However, in his first three years, Grass has led Jacksonville State to over 6,000 yards in each season, including over 7,000 in record-breaking 2015.

A huge part of Jacksonville State’s success on the offensive side of the ball to begin the John Grass era has been the play and leadership of star quarterback Eli Jenkins.

Jenkins was a stalwart at the position for the Gamecocks, starting all 39 of the games JSU has played since Grass took over.

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John Grass and Eli Jenkins (7) celebrate 2016’s 33-7 blowout over UT Martin. (Matt Reynolds/JSU)

Jenkins brought home numerous accolades in his decorated Gamecock career, including taking home OVC Player of the Year and FCS Quarterback of the Year honors in his stellar junior campaign in 2015.

Jenkins isn’t around any longer, but with Grass still at the helm of the JSU ship, the Gamecocks look poised to continue their OVC dominance in year four under Grass.

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