By JIMMY WIGFIELD
Mobile Christian defensive end Legarrius Sims and cornerback Evan Blalock kept the commitments they made to Louisiana-Monroe last summer by signing with the Warhawks on Wednesday, the first day of college football’s early signing period.
Sims (6-4, 229) and Blalock (6-0, 184), who each started both ways the last two seasons, are projected as defensive players at ULM and became the eighth and ninth Leopards to sign with Division I programs in the last seven years under coach Ronnie Cottrell, a former recruiting coordinator at Alabama and before that at Florida State under legendary Bobby Bowden, the father of ULM coach Terry Bowden.
Cottrell said he likes Terry Bowden’s approach to building the Warhawks the old-fashioned way instead of through the transfer portal.
“They both have a good chance to play early,” Cottrell said of Sims and Blalock. “They are clutch players too. They’ll make the plays when they’re called upon. I’m pleased the Louisiana-Monroe staff has remained committed to continue the recruiting of high school players. They’re trying to build a program.”
Terry Bowden, who was also Auburn’s head coach from 1993-98, took over at ULM after the Warhawks went 0-10 in 2020 and directed the biggest turnaround in Sun Belt Conference history by leading ULM to a 4-8 record his first season. The Warhawks also finished 4-8 in 2022.
Sims — who has a pro lineage as a cousin to NFL players Cordale Flott and Velus Jones and former Southern Miss defensive back Wydale Flott, all of Saraland — had 19 tackles, 4 tackles for loss and a sack while playing opposite of defensive end and Alabama commitment Sterling Dixon. Sims also had 15 receptions for 182 yards and a touchdown as a senior and plays basketball.
“I’ll love to play for a coach who has so much experience,” Sims said of Bowden. “I like getting pressure on the quarterback and getting sacks.”
Sims said his goals at ULM are simple — “I just want to win, get playing time as a freshman and get to the Senior Bowl and hopefully the pros.”
Cottrell said Sims has the physical qualities to be an impact player.
“When you walk on the field, Legarrius has great size and length and is very athletic,” Cottrell said. “He’s also a phenomenal teammate and he’ll be a very respected guy.”
Blalock — who had four receptions for 108 yards and 38 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery as a senior — has 4.44-second 40-yard speed.
“I started playing when I was 5 and it’s been a dream of mine to play college football,” Blalock said. “I’ve been told if I show up in shape, I’ll have a good chance to get on the field. It’s been a lot of hard work and it’s finally paying off. I’m ready to get up there and get to work.”
Mobile Christian defensive coordinator Charles Lawson said Sims and Blalock have the foundation to succeed on college fields.
“They put down the blueprint to make it happen,” Lawson said. “Coach Cottrell runs a college system and that’ll have them prepared.”
In all, 27 Leopards players have been signed by colleges in Cottrell’s seven years at Mobile Christian. The other Division I signees were running back Troy Dixon (Arizona), defensive end Andres Fox (Stanford), linebacker Deontae Lawson (Alabama), defensive back Keith Gallmon (South Alabama), wide receiver Jason Brooks (South Alabama), quarterback Kason Lincke (West Carolina) and wide receiver Toler Keigley (West Carolina).