Second-year wide receiver coach Melvin Tart leads the group’s praises and knows what they can do for offensive coordinator David Thornton’s offense.
“We are very excited about this group,” Tart said. “We have several guys returning. They are getting better at understanding Coach Thornton’s ‘Fun and Shoot’ offense, as we like to call it. They know what we want to do and the sky is the limit for these guys. They are a very talented group.
“But we are inconsistent at times. We have mental lapses at times on some stuff. It’s the little things, but the little things will make the big picture better. We are giving a pretty decent effort, but our effort also needs to be better.”
Leading the returnees is Lafayette, La., sophomore Dylan Bossier (6-1, 180) out of Teurlings Catholic High School. He had 27 catches for 584 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman and was named first-team All-MACJC South Division. He has already committed to Louisiana-Lafayette.
“Dylan has the most receptions and yards of all of our returnees,” Tart said. “He does a great job.”
Also returning is JaMichael Willis (5-11, 200) from Gardendale High School in Birmingham, Ala. Willis had 25 catches for 235 yards and two touchdowns last year.
“JaMichael is a very athletic guy,” Tart said. “In fact, he could see some playing time as a defensive back this year.”
Another returning starter is Taylor Higgason (6-1, 195) from Petal. Higgason had 21 receptions for 217 yards and one score in 2012.
“Taylor played five games for us last year before he went out with a broken foot,” Tart said. “But he’s back in good health and is one of the smartest guys we have in the unit.”
Also in the mix will be Jarret Smith (5-8, 160) out of Jackson Lanier. Smith played defensive back last year, but made his mark on special teams. As a freshman, he was a second-team All-NJCAA performer as a return specialist, an All-MACJC South Division first-teamer and an All-Region 23 selection.
“Jarret will play as an inside receiver for us,” Tart said. “We are going to try and use that speed and agility he has as a kick returner and see him make some moves.”
Justin Harris (5-11, 190) of Morton has been moved from wideout to running back, but he could still see playing time as a receiver this season.
“Justin can play the ‘H’ or the ‘Y’ for us,” Tart said. “He knows the offense pretty well.”
Quartez Cooks (6-0, 190) from Quitman returns for his sophomore year. He sat out the 2012 season after a solid freshman campaign in 2011.
“Quartez can be a game-changer for us,” Tart said. “But really all of the guys are game-changers. They are all playmakers with the ball in their hands. They can do some exciting things for us.”
Another player that was on defense last year and has moved to a wideout slot this season is Adarrius Perkins (6-2, 225) from Forrest County AHS.
“Adarrius has moved to offense and I think we’ve found him a home,” Tart said. “He has been working hard this summer to get the offense down. Once he turns up the effort a little more, I think he can be a really good player.”
The Bobcats have a few newcomers at the wideout slots, including Rodregus Ducksworth (6-0, 180) out of Taylorsville and walk-on Josh Hosey (6-2, 179) from Northeast Jones.
“Rodregus comes from Taylorsville and he can stretch field deep,” Tart said. “He has great hands, runs great routes and is a pretty good blocker. He can also play a little ‘Y’ or tight end for us. He will have his hand on the ground sometimes.
“Josh came out, walked-on this summer and earned a scholarship. He has great hands, runs good routes and is a good guy. They did a tremendous job with him at Northeast Jones.”
Another freshman – Ra’Quazious Boyd from Lafayette, Ala. – can play quarterback, wide receiver and tight end.
“Qua is a big body we can use for blocking and going across the middle,” Tart said. “He is a talented athlete.”
Freshman Curt Bassett (6-3, 240) of West Jones was listed as a long snapper and tight end in the preseason. He has been slowed by an injury.
“Curt splits time between me and (offensive line) Coach (Chuck) Robertson, so he can learn the run-part of the offense,” Tart said.
The Bobcats have plenty of weapons at wide receiver and they plan to use them all. Tart said everyone would have an opportunity to perform.
“We rotate eight guys here,” he said. “Last year, every receiver on our team caught at least one pass and got to play.”
Even though the JCJC wideouts have the physical skills to get the job done, Tart is looking for even more.
“Right now, I’m looking for that leader to step up,” he said. “I’m looking for that guy that wants to take the reigns and be that guy that can take control and be that leader.
“Overall, we are to the point where we have the potential to be great. I’ve been around some good receivers and this is one of the best groups I’ve ever been around. Once we get consistent, I think we will be hard to handle. Hopefully, we will come around soon and cross the t’s and dot the i’s.”
But Tart is quite optimistic this group can come together and be a potent force.
“It’s a good group of guys and they all get along well,” he said. “It’s a great group to coach. It’s been really fun so far.”
The Bobcats of head coach Ray Perkins will open the 2013 season at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Holmes Community College. The game will be audiocast on www.jcjc.tv with Mark Easley and Ed Smith on the call.