Jones Position Preview: Defensive Backs

Jones Position Preview: Defensive Backs

ELLISVILLE – Jones County Junior College defensive backs coach Steve Boyd wants his best players on the field when the season starts. That means – knock on wood – no injuries during fall practice.

"We are doing OK," said Boyd, who also serves as defensive coordinator. "Everyone is healthy and to me that's a big thing – get them to the games healthy. We don't want to beat them up in camp and have a couple of them injured before the first game."

Lining up at strong safety will be sophomore Devontay Barnett (6-1, 198) of West Jones, backed up by Forrest County AHS freshman Adarrius Perkins (6-2, 225), who signed with Mississippi State University out of high school.

"Devontay has improved greatly over last year," Boyd said. "We've been very pleased with him. Adarrius came here in the summer and we are trying to get him revved up to learn all the plays. He's missed a couple of days, but I think we should be good at that position."

At right cornerback will be Baton Rouge, La., sophomore Corey Trim (5-11, 180), who prepped at Redemptorist High School. Freshmen Victor Jenkins (5-10, 170) of Lumberton and Bre Gavin (6-0, 185) of Stringer are battling for playing time.

"Corey is the starter, while Jenkins and Gavin are backing him up," Boyd said. "Trim is a returner. He is steady. He is not the fastest guy in the world, but he knows what to do. Jenkins and Gavin are freshmen and are learning the position."

At free safety will be Taylorsville sophomore Deon Fairley (6-0, 185). D'Andre Jackson (6-1, 191), a freshman from Jackson Bailey Magnet, and Lawrence Hopkins (5-11, 180), a freshman from North Forrest, will back up Fairley.

"Deon started all nine games last year," Boyd said. "He needs to be like the quarterback of the defense. He can set the defense for the other players and get the rest of them lined up correctly.

"D'Andre is a very good athlete and is a guy who can play multiple positions. He can be the free safety or the Bobcat or even a strong safety. It's good to have those guys who can play more than one position."

At the Bobcat position, it is a close battle between William Johnson (6-4, 208), a freshman from Hillcrest High School in Memphis, Tenn., and Sam Howard (6-1, 181), a freshman from Wayne County.

"Howard and Johnson are pretty much head to head," Boyd said. "As of now, William is starting, but some days Sam does just as good as William. We will find out for sure who will start there when Aug. 30 gets here, but if we had to play today, it would be William.

"Sam has been nicked up a little bit, but he is progressing."

At left cornerback, Collins sophomore Michael McLaurin (6-0, 185) leads the way, while Jackson Lanier freshman Jarret Smith (5-7, 160) is in the mix, too.

"McLaurin is the leader there ahead of Smith," he said. "Smith is also a kick returner/punt returner guy. He is another one of those multiple position guys. He could even play receiver. With a 55-man roster, you need some of those guys who can play multiple positions."

Overall, Boyd believes the Bobcats can be sound on defense, led by ends Chavez Sims and Felton Collins, tackle Cameron McLeod, linebacker Damien Wilson and Barnett.

"McLeod and Sims are solid up front and Felton has come on and been a pleasant surprise at defensive end," he said. "We are glad to have him on defense. Like I said, if we can stay healthy on defense, we should be OK."

The Bobcats will open the 2012 season under first-year head coach Ray Perkins at 7 p.m. on Aug. 30 against the Holmes Community College Bulldogs at Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field.

The game will be telecast on www.jcjc.tv with Mark Easley and Ed Smith on the call. The game will also air on WLAU-FM, 99.3.

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