Landrum helping to lead Jacksonville State defense

Landrum_Chris1Sweet Water alum Chris Landrum is thriving in his first season at Jacksonville State as he has helped the Gamecocks to a 6-2 record and a spot near the top of the Ohio Valley Conference.

“Obviously, coming from a great high school program like Chris did at Sweet Water and playing for a great head coach like Coach (Stacy) Luker, I knew what kind of players that he would produce and this guy is a Player of the Year,” Jacksonville State coach Bill Clark said of Landrum, who transferred from Auburn during the offseason. “He played fullback, defensive end and we knew we had an athlete. The thing that I loved hearing about him was how much of a competitor he was and what kind of person he is. That is what we have seen in him. This is a guy that comes with a smile on his face and comes to work every day. He works his tail off. He makes people around him better. He is just a good person.”

Clark, who made his reputation at the helm of Prattville High School’s Class 6A dynasty, is hanging his hat on defense and a strong ground game during his first season atop his collegiate alma mater’s program. Landrum has managed to play a big role in that defensive focus, a point of emphasis that has led to 25 total sacks for the Gamecocks thus far this season.

“We knew we had an opportunity to get him, it was just a big deal to us to get a guy that came from a program that expects to win,” Clark said. “That’s a big deal to us and we’ve seen nothing but good since he’s been here. We’re definitely glad to have him.”

Landrum, who is playing defensive end for the Gamecocks, has worked his way to 29 total tackles thus far this season. He leads the team in tackles for loss with 8.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage for a total of 41 yards lost. Landrum has also worked his way to a share of the team lead in sacks with four. The Sweet Water alum also narrowly missed four other sacks in which he received credit for a quarterback hit.

Landrum_Chris2“The defensive scheme that we play helps the defensive ends a lot. Our defensive backs cover really well, so the quarterbacks are looking around a lot and we have a lot of time to get to him,” Landrum said of the team’s defensive success thus far this season. “We always thrive on pressuring the quarterback every time, any way we can. We want to affect the quarterback.”

After shifting between linebacker and fullback at Auburn and watching a regime change in the coaching office, Landrum decided to take his redshirt sophomore status elsewhere. The decision to head to Jacksonville State was helped in part by a relationship Luker and Clark forged while coaching together in a pair of Alabama-Mississippi All-Star games.

“My high school coach knew Coach Clark real well and he told me that I would love playing for Coach Clark because Coach Clark is going to coach me hard,” Landrum said during a Monday press conference. “I just wanted to come to a place where I had the opportunity to win and play for a good coach.”

This weekend, Landrum and his teammates will travel to Clarksville, Tenn. for a Saturday afternoon contest with 0-8 Austin Peay.

And while the game seems a complete mismatch on paper, Landrum said he remembers well a lesson he learned during his high school days when his Sweet Water Bulldogs dropped a 19-17 heart breaker to Loachapoka in the third round of the Class 1A state playoffs.

“I remember the playoffs from my junior year. We played Loachapoka High School and we kind of over looked them and they ended up beating us that game,” Landrum said of the Nov. 20, 2009 affair that prematurely ended then No. 1 Sweet Water’s season. “It is all about staying focused and knowing what you have to do as a team and doing whatever it takes to reach the goals. We work hard everyday in practice to get better. You can’t pay attention to the record because on any Saturday, anything can happen. We just have to stay focused and work hard.”