LISTEN: Former Mustang, Gator Star Jerry Odom Scores Six Space Coast Football Standout Recruits
By Alan Zlotorzynski // February 14, 2018
Odom now coach of NCAA Division II South Atlantic Conference Tusculum College Pioneers
ABOVE INTERVIEW: Listen as Alan Zlotorzynski speaks with former Merritt Island and University of Florida football star Jerry Odom who is now the coach of the NCAA Division II South Atlantic Conference Tusculum College Pioneers in Greeneville, Tennessee.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Former Merritt Island and University of Florida football star Jerry Odom, and now coach of the NCAA Division II South Atlantic Conference Tusculum College Pioneers, was in Brevard during the recent high school signings and scored six outstanding players from five different schools.
Space Coast players headed to Greeneville, Tennessee to play football for Odom include Cocoa defensive stalwarts Howard Stewart and John Smith, MCC quarterback Joaquin Collazo, Eau Gallie all-purpose athlete Cordell Dzara, Satellite running back and state pole vaulting runner-up Luis Morris, and one of Brevard County’s leading running backs, Gibran Williams.
The ‘321 Six’ as I’ll call them will join seven other players from the Space Coast that has already made their mark at Tusculum including Lor’renzo and Timmy Pratt who starred at Cocoa.
Also playing for the Pioneers is Cocoa’s CJ Bartley, who was last year’s Friday Night Locker Room-Space Coast Daily Defensive Player of the Year, and helped lead the Tigers to the state championship. Former Palm Bay Pirate Dez Arthur has impressed coach Odom as has Bailey Herring and Luke Clark who played for Jeff McClean at Merritt Island.
Former Viera Hawk standout Jay Boyd was magnificent during his freshman year as he was voted a Don Hansen Football Gazette All-America honorable mention, Football Gazette All-Region, Football Gazette Region Freshman of the Year, South Atlantic Conference Defensive Freshman of the Year, All-South Atlantic Conference First Team (Return Specialist), All-South Atlantic Conference Second Team (Defensive Back) and he led the SAC with five interceptions, which were tied for the second most in school history.
The Pioneers finished 5-5 last season but are building for the future and doing so with plenty of Brevard County talent on the roster. There is no doubt that the apple doesn’t fall far from the coaching tree in recognizing talent and building winners.
Odom is the son of legendary Brevard County football coach Gerald Odom, who a member of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame and FHSAA All-Century Team Coach.
Jerry Odom’s coaching career, like his dad’s, is filled with multiple success stories. A 28-year football coaching veteran, he boasts a strong lineage of experience at the collegiate and professional coaching ranks where he has mentored 15 NFL players and coached in five postseason bowl games including the Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Outback Bowl.
After a stellar high school playing career at Merritt Island, Odom played collegiately at Florida where he was a four-year letterman at inside linebacker for the Gators from 1987-1990. He started in every game during his junior and senior campaigns, on a defense that was among the nation’s top-five in total defense in 1988, 1989 and 1990.
His senior squad tied for first place in the 1990 SEC standings with a 9-2 record as he led the Gators in tackles for a second consecutive season while earning All-SEC third team honors. He was an All-SEC Freshman Team selection in 1987 and was tabbed to the SEC Academic Honor Roll in 1990 while also serving as the Gators’ team captain.
Odom served as a graduate assistant coach on the Florida staff in 1991 as the Gators won the SEC Championship with a 10-2 record and played in the Sugar Bowl.
To top off his playing career, Odom played professionally with the AFL’s Orlando Predators for seven seasons, from 1992 to 1998, he as a linebacker and running back.
He helped the Predators to four Arena Bowl appearances in 1992, 1994, 1995, 1998, and won the title in 1998. He retired as Orlando’s career rushing leader and is ranked fifth in AFL history.
Coach Gerald Odom compiled a lifetime record of 268-85-2 and had a significant coaching hand in several state championships for Brevard County schools before winning them as a head coach.
ABOVE VIDEO: Gerald Odom, multi-championship football coach, is a 2012 inductee into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
He was an assistant coach under Byrd Whigham at Melbourne High in 1966 when the Bulldogs defeated Fort Lauderdale 31-12 to win the Class 2A Championship Game. That was the biggest classification in those days.
In 1967, Odom joined Eddie Feely’s staff at Merritt Island, where, as Mustang defensive coordinator in 1972 he was instrumental in Merritt Island’s decisive 40-21 win over Tallahassee Leon in the Class 4A championship game.
When Feely moved to Florida State to become the Seminoles’ freshman coach under Bobby Bowden, Odom took the helm at Merritt Island, continuing the legacy of a consistently good football team and turned the Mustangs into a perennial state football power.
The Mustangs would go on to win back-to-back titles in 1978 and 1979 under Odom but even more impressive are his protégés. The coaching tree and legacy of Gerald Odom runs deep in Brevard County.
Cocoa Tigers head coach John Wilkinson grew up with Jerry Odom at every level of football and played with him at Merritt Island for his dad, Gerald. Coach Wilkinson also coached with Gerald at New Smyrna and later Cocoa, where Wilkinson remains as the next legend in waiting of Space Coast football coaches.
In all, either directly or indirectly, eight state championships are linked to Gerald Odom and now six new recruits will play for his son Jerry at Tusculum.
With 13 players on the Tusculum roster from Brevard County schools, there is no doubt Jerry Odom will have the Pioneers competing for national championships in the very near future.
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