“Basically, we have a lot of interchangeable parts,” said first-year JCJC wide receivers coach Melvin Tart. “If we have to take somebody out because they are tired, I don’t think we will miss a beat. They are progressing well as a group.”
The Bobcats have a solid balance between experience and newcomers.
Sophomores Quartez Cooks, Stephanio McNair, Taylor Higgason and Martez Nixon lead the way.
Cooks (6-2, 180) is from Quitman, McNair (6-1, 193) is from Purvis, Higgason (6-1, 190) is from Petal and Nixon (5-11, 174) is from Taylorsville.
Cooks had 17 receptions for 315 yards last season and was one of the team’s top kick returners. He is currently the leading Z receiver, while McNair is at H.
“Quartez is a dangerous guy,” Tart said. “He can do everything you want him to do. He’s a speedster with great hands. He has an awesome vertical jump. If a ball is thrown between him and the defensive back, I’ll take him every time.
“Stephanio is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen. He is a fast guy, too. He runs routes to the ‘T’ every time. He is very smart and gets open.”
Higgason, a transfer from Mississippi State University, is at the X slot, while Nixon is backing up McNair at the H.
“Taylor is also a speedster,” Tart said. “He can get up the field and stretch the field well. He is one of my smartest receivers, too. He can adjust routes, according to the defense, which is great. He is like another pair of eyes out there for me and also helps me out a lot.
“Martez is like our utility guy. He can play the Y or we can put him at Z. His original position is H, so he is a pretty smart and versatile guy. He has the best hands I’ve seen so far and he had a good spring and summer.”
Lafayette, La., freshman Dylan Bossier (6-2, 180) at the Y slot, while Livingston, Ala., freshman Roderick “Ike” Harris (6-2, 190) backs up Higgason at the X. Harris was a quarterback at Sumter Central High School.
“Dylan is like Quartez, but a little more raw,” Tart said. “He has great speed and also has a great vertical, so I’ll take him on a jump ball, too. He’s smart because we had him at X and moved him to Y and he’s catching on to the offense pretty well.
“Ike came in as a quarterback, but we saw he had a good 40 time, so (Head) Coach (Ray) Perkins wanted to move him to receiver. We’ve got him at X with Taylor. He is a little raw, but he can be a good player as the season goes on.”
Lena freshman Justin Harris (5-10, 180) is playing at the H, while Baton Rouge, La., freshman Kevin Green is working at the Z slot.
“Justin was a running back in high school and we had a couple of those returning this year, so moved him to H,” Tart said. “He has decent hands and the fact that he was a running back means we want to get the ball into his hands, so we can see some of those moves from running back transferred to receiver. He’ll be a good guy once we get the ball in his hands.
“Kevin is behind Quartez at Z right now. We brought him in as a defensive back, but we switched him to receiver. He has a little catching up to do, but I think he will pick it up quickly.”
Tart is excited about his group, especially when it comes to speed.
“Overall speed is pretty good,” he said. “Everybody is around a 4.5 or better, except for Martez, but he is probably the smartest guy. He always gets open, no matter what.”
In the JCJC spread offense, the wide receivers are expected to do more than just catch the ball.
Tart said the players are doing the little things they need to do to be successful.
“We were watching film the other day and most receivers are prima donnas,” Tart said. “But our guys were blocking pretty well and I got excited about that. We like receivers that can block because it helps the running game out and probably scares some DBs, too.”
Tart said it’s been a work in progress for the wide receivers.
They are learning the new system of offensive coordinator David Thornton, but the wide receivers are improving as a whole.
“We are looking pretty good right now,” Tart said. “We are learning Coach Thornton’s offense and I’m learning it, too. So, we are going kind of hand and hand with it.
“Coach Thornton is throwing a lot at them, but they are picking it up. Sometimes, they think too much and we can’t play as fast as we are capable of playing. But each day it gets a little better. “
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.