Published on April 21, 2021 by Morgan Black  
Abee Jerrod
Jerrod Abee, a Samford University junior from Gainesville, Georgia, is studying economics with concentrations in sports marketing and data analytics. After learning of the success of the programs in Samford’s Brock School of Business, Abee transferred from Georgia Tech to enroll. In addition to his studies, he is an intern in Samford’s Center for Sports Analytics. Here he discusses his experience working with the Samford football team as a part of his internship and how it has helped enhance his knowledge of the intersection of data and sports. 

What led you in your decision to transfer from Georgia Tech to Samford?

I was led to Samford from Georgia Tech because of the incredible things I had heard about this program and the professors. I used to play football at Georgia Tech, and while I was there, I received an injury that left me unable to play. Instead of not doing anything, I was able to work analytics with the defensive quality specialist and immediately fell in love with data analytics in sports. This, stacked on top of the ability to coach, helped me realize a spiritual gift that I believe God has given me in instruction and teaching. After realizing this new passion, I decided to research schools that had a data analytics program specializing in sports and Samford’s program was top contender.

What business analytics projects are you working on with the Samford football team?

Last semester I helped the football recruiting staff look at the transfer portal and recruiting habits to best see the relationship between high school 4-star and 5-star ratings, and how well these players preform in college. I am currently working on a Samford football self-scouting project looking at our tendencies as a team, researching how predictable we are when facing opponents. I am also working on projects like an opponent tendency analysis studying how predictable our opponents can be in a game, and a kickoff return study that shows the efficiencies and inefficiencies of returning kickoffs instead of taking a fair catch every time. All of these studies are used during the week to prepare in facing our opponent. 

What do you hope to do when you graduate from Samford?

I would love to go to graduate school and be a graduate assistant coach for a university football program. I want to study in some kind of data or sports analytics program. If the coaching aspect does not work out, I would love to work in the front office for a professional team in marketing or financial analytics. In the long run I would love to eventually become a professor to do more research in sports data and teach others about concepts I have learned.  

How will you use what you’ve learned in Brock School of Business and through your work with the football team to pursue your career?

I will use the practical application skills I've learned through my classes and experiences to pursue my career. I have learned how to buckle down and work hard on difficult problems. Also, through the help of my professors, I have become better at approaching open ended projects and how I can come up with research questions that can help any organization or team that I become a part of. Dr. Mazzei has been incredibly influential in giving me great advice on questions I could ask and how to conduct analytic work to find answers to questions I come up with. The coaches I have also worked with have been monumental in making me understand what data is useful to them and what is just worthless numbers. They have showed me how to find true relationships between numbers and the game of football, and it further drives my passion of analytics and the game of football.   

In response to Abee’s work, coach Steve Adams who serves as the football team’s general manager, said, “Jerrod has been a great asset for our program. He has brought new ideas to the table in how we approach everything from special teams to roster management. He has a bright future, and we are extremely happy that he is a part of our organization.”
Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.