MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – “Our seniors, Herb McGee, Trhae Mitchell, Josh Ajayi and Kevin Morris have been around here a long time,” said South Alabama head coach Richie Riley.
South Alabama’s roster this season was a mix of young talent, transfers and redshirt seniors. For the latter group, they’ve seen this program grow rapidly over the last two years.
“I’ve been here since the program wasn’t as good, and now it’s going in the right direction. For me and Trhae it’s just witnessing something this special and being a part of something this special. This is family to us,” said senior Josh Ajayi.
The Jaguars enjoyed plenty of success in year two under head coach Richie Riley, winning 20 games and finishing second in the Sun Belt standings. There was no guarantee however that this team would buy into Riley’s vision so quickly.
“We had guys we inherited that I didn’t recruit, they signed to play for somebody else. In that situation, some guys will transfer or guys will butt heads because my philosophy is different and they don’t want to accept that. But this group has, they accepted who I am as a coach and we have a special relationship. I’ll miss my seniors,” said Riley.
“He changed my life I think, before he came I was known for defense. He put the ball in my hands and I became an offensive, two-way player. We took on his toughness, Burn The Boats, we took that on,” said Mitchell.
Riley has helped inject new life into this South Alabama program, a team that early last week was just two wins from the NCAA Tournament.
“Having all things come into alignment like this, it’s really a Cinderella story for guys like Trahe and I that have been here for five years,” said Ajayi.
In light of the string of cancellations last week however, the senior backbone of this Jag team saw their careers came to an abrupt end. But they’ll always remember their time at South Alabama.
“I mean it’s been an amazing experience, I loved it here all my five years,” said Ajayi.