By JIMMY WIGFIELD
Legarrius Sims and cornerback Evan Blalock honored commitments they made to Louisiana-Monroe last summer by signing with the Warhawks on Wednesday, the first day of college football’s early contract signing.
Sims (6-4, 229) and Blalock (6-0, 184), who have started both ways for the past two seasons, are predicted defensive players at ULM and became the eighth and ninth Leopards to start at Division I- Signed programs in the league for the last seven years under coach Ronnie Cottrell, a former recruiting coordinator at Alabama and before that at Florida State under the legendary Bobby Bowden, father of ULM coach Terry Bowden.
Cottrell said he likes Terry Bowden’s approach of building the Warhawks the old-fashioned way rather than through the transfer portal.
“Both have good chances to play early,” Cottrell said of Sims and Blalock. “They are also clutch players. They will make the pieces when prompted. I am pleased that the Louisiana-Monroe staff remains committed to continuing the recruitment of high school players. They’re trying to build a program.”
Terry Bowden, who was also Auburn’s head coach from 1993-1998, took over the ULM after the Warhawks lost 10-0 in 2020 and initiated the biggest turnaround in Sun Belt Conference history by leading ULM in its freshman season led to a 4:8 record. The Warhawks also finished 2022 4-8.
Sims – who has a pro lineage as the cousin of NFL players Cordale Flott and Velus Jones and former Southern Miss defenseman Wydale Flott, all Saraland – had 19 tackles, 4 tackles for losses and a sack while playing against the defensive end and Alabama played signing Sterling Dixon. Sims also had 15 receptions for 182 yards and a touchdown as a senior and plays basketball.
“I would love to play for a coach with so much experience,” Sims said of Bowden. “I like putting pressure on the quarterback and getting sacks.”
Sims said his goals at ULM are simple — “I just want to win, get game 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 run the field, Legarrius is a great height and length and very athletic,” Cottrell said. “He’s also a phenomenal team-mate 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 a speed of 4.44 seconds for 40 yards.
“I started playing when I was 5 and it was a dream of mine to play college football,” Blalock said. “I’ve been told if I show up in shape I have a good chance of getting on the field. It’s been a lot of hard work and it’s finally paying off. I’m ready to come up and get to work.”
Mobile Christian defense coordinator Charles Lawson said Sims and Blalock had the foundation to succeed in collegiate fields.
“They laid down the plan to make it happen,” Lawson said. “Coach Cottrell runs a college system and that will prepare them for it.”
In total, 27 Leopards players were signed by colleges during Cottrell’s seven years with Mobile Christian. The other Division I signers 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).