JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville State coach John Grass jokes that when he lost his defensive coordinator after last season, he didn't have to think long about who his new one would be.
When Andrew Warwick left to become Troy's inside linebackers coach in the third week of January, Grass went a couple of offices over and offered the job to Kelvin Sigler, who joined the team a year earlier as safeties coach and assistant head coach.
"I already had my mind made up," Grass said. "You've kind of got a hot list of the moves you'll make if you lose certain guys. It was pretty easy."
Grass added with a smile: "Probably took me about 10 seconds to make that decision."
On Friday, Sigler wrapped up his first week of spring practice as the defensive coordinator. During the workouts, he looked like he spent the whole time in constant motion. His low, booming voice carried at JSU Stadium, as somebody standing on end zone had little trouble hearing him 80 yards away.
He still is working with safeties, and as an Alabama safety in 1995-98, he even gave one player pointers on back-pedaling this past week by doing it himself at full speed.
Before and after practice, Sigler made a point not only to talk to his own guys but show interest in other players as well.
"I feel like the transition is going pretty smooth," Sigler said. "I've built a good relationship with all the guys just being here a year. I don't just talk to my position, I talk to everybody on the team — offense, defense, special team guys.
"That's my personality. I like to get to know the kids and let them know that anything I can do to help them, I'll always talk to them."
After Sigler finished at Alabama, he coached high school football at Greensboro, Bob Jones and Blount during 1999-2011. He was a defensive analyst under Nick Saban at Alabama in 2012, then was an assistant coach at Northern Illinois during 2013-15. He was cornerbacks coach at South Alabama in 2017-18.
"I loved coaching high school," Sigler said. "I loved coaching those kids, giving them an opportunity to go to college and play and get a college degree, but I always had that itch to be a college coach, just to see if I liked it."
Sigler said he especially likes that Grass has developed the Gamecocks to be a close-knit team and "makes sure we all play as one."
"My thing is being a close-knit team," Sigler said. "Being at Bama, we all knew each other. We all hung out with each other, not just the defensive backs. We hung out with the O-line, the D-line, the receivers.
"One of my best friends was an O-lineman, Chris Samuels. We were a close-knit family. We knew each other's names. That's one thing here, you've got to know your teammates. It's hard to go out and fight for someone you don't know about. You've got to know the guy across the ball from you, not just the same side of the ball as you."
As for the JSU defense, which led the OVC in scoring defense and total defense last year, Sigler said fans can expect an "aggressive, attacking style."
"It doesn't take much to run to the ball," Sigler said. "We're going to be disciplined, aggressive and play smart on the back end. We're going to go out there and make plays."
Grass said he already is pleased that he went with his first choice and offered Sigler the job.
"Him as defensive coordinator, I think our guys really respond to him," Grass said. "He just has a certain knack in getting guys to play hard. I don't think we'll miss a beat."