ELLISVILLE – Don't ask Ron Brewer anytime soon who will be the offensive line starters for the 2011…
Jones Position Preview: Offensive Line
"One of the keys to having a great team is your guys up front. Those guys have to be leaders and I feel good about them."
The Bobcats return four starters, including center J.T. Myers (6-2, 310) of Perry Central, left guard Anthony Benjamin (6-0, 315) of Greene County, right guard Justin Booth (6-2, 320) of Taylorsville and left tackle Fredrick "Snap" Moore (6-3, 325) of Heidelberg.
Myers has been picked as one of the Bobcat team captains.
"J.T. is a very good and smart player," Brewer said. "My centers have to be able to direct traffic and he is one of those guys that can do that. Anybody on that line of scrimmage if they are confused about something they know all they have to do is ask J.T. He can tell them what do.
"He is definitely a team leader."
Moore is a player drawing plenty of attention from senior colleges.
"Snap is being pretty highly recruited," said Brewer. "He has the potential to be a bigtime player as long as he keeps working hard and learning. Guys look up to him on the team. He will be an intricate part of the team."
Booth brings athleticism and intelligence to the line, as well.
"Justin is a very good player," Brewer said. "He plays hard and gives you what he's got. He is talented, athletic and strong. He can move for a guy his size. He is not afraid to hit you, which is one of the things I like about him."
Benjamin turned heads as a freshman and Brewer expects more of the same from him in 2012.
"Anthony was a surprise last year," he said. "He came in, took the left guard position over and kept it until the end of the year. That is exactly what I'm expecting him to do this year because there are some guys pushing him right now. He is quick and strong and I think he will do a good job."
As of now, the fifth starter in the line at right tackle will be freshman Jalen Beavers (6-4, 320) of Stringer.
"Jalen has come in and made a big impact as a freshman," Brewer said. "He has stepped in and worked well with the other guys. I think he is going to be a valuable part of this offensive line."
Serving as backups at the moment will be freshmen Josh Thigpen (6-2, 280) of West Jones at left tackle, Justin Lloyd (5-11, 291) of West Bolivar and Corey Starcher (6-1, 270) of West Jones at left guard, Levell Hartfield (6-1, 285) of Moss Point at center, Jaryd Whitman (6-3, 295) of Petal at right guard and Ben Benison (6-4, 250) of Stringer and Jacorey Lee (6-4, 280) of West Bolivar at right tackle.
"Levell was redshirted last year," Brewer said. "He gained experience by being here, but he did not play in any games. I'm excited about the way those guys are practicing."
Brewer added that all of the Bobcat offensive linemen show up to learn more about their positions each day.
"One thing I can say about this group is that they are coachable," he said. "Believe me, if they weren't coachable we would get rid of them in a hurry."
But it all comes back to the four returning starters – Moore, Myers, Benjamin and Booth – and how they perform if the Bobcats expect any success this season.
"They are the bell cows," Brewer said of his sophomores. "The way I feel is this team will go as far as the offensive line wants to take them. If they live up to the potential I think they have, we will be in the hunt this year."
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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