The Bobcats, ranked No. 14 in the NJCAA/JCfootball.com preseason poll, will travel to Fulton to take on the Itawamba Community College Indians at 7 p.m.
Fourth-year head coach Eddie Pierce’s team will feature quite a mix of experience and youth this season. The Bobcats return several key players from last year’s 7-2 squad, but will have to rely on numerous freshmen to fill in key roles.
The quarterback slot is one of those positions where the Bobcats will have to go with inexperienced players, as three freshmen signal-callers are listed on the roster.
Brandon May (6-2, 195) of Mobile , Ala. , is the projected starter, while Robert Ross (6-4, 190) of Bay Springs will also play. Brian Robinson (5-10, 175) of Virginia Beach , Va. , can play numerous positions, including quarterback, running back, receiver and defensive back.
In the offensive backfield, Jones will look to redshirt freshman Kwumaine “Bubba” Brown (5-10, 195) of Kissimmee , Fla. , as the leader. Brown is a transfer from Butler Community College ( Kan. ) Bay Springs’ freshman Justin Gaines (5-10, 190) and Laurel freshman La’Darious Portis (5-10, 190) will also play.
At the wide receiver positions, the Bobcats will be led by Laurel sophomore Anthony Jackson (6-5, 205) and Hanceville , Ala. , sophomore Tristan Purifoy (6-0, 190). Jackson was an All-MACJC performer last year and is a second-team NJCAA preseason All-American choice this season. Taylorsville’s Jamieon Keyes (6-5, 200), along with two more Laurel sophomores, Rafael Pollard (5-10, 175) and Clifton Pollock (6-3, 185), will also be key contributors. Laurel freshman Kylan Pollard (6-1, 175) will also see action.
At tight end, Northeast Jones sophomore Jon Carmichael (6-2, 250) returns, while Greene County freshman Caleb Prentiss (6-1, 230) will see playing time.
In the offensive line, Laurel sophomore Darrell Leopold (6-3, 300) returns at center, while Enterprise freshman Caleb McGruder (6-3, 300) has looked solid.
At left guard, Hattiesburg sophomore Evan Shaw (6-1, 270), Raleigh freshman Eric Thurman (6-3, 280) and Quitman sophomore Cody Tucker (6-5, 315) will play.
Northeast Jones sophomore Preston Cochran (6-3, 290) lines up at right guard, along with Sylva-Bay Academy freshman Kody Wallace (6-2, 270).
D’Iberville sophomore Chase Sherman (6-3, 280) is at left tackle, along with Heidelberg freshman Jeremy Pierce (6-5, 300).
Laurel freshman Brandon Bender (6-3, 270) is playing at right tackle, along with Desoto Central freshman Michael Curry (6-3, 300).
On the defensive line, the Bobcats have a pair of experienced players returning. End Tyrunn Walker (6-4, 270) of New Iberia , La. , and tackle Robbie Mayers (6-3, 290) of Laurel are being counted on by the Bobcats. Marcus Keyes (6-5, 230) of Collins is also a sophomore. He played in 2007 and sat out last year.
Freshmen tackles Jo’Nal White (6-0, 280) of Ruston, La., Cameron Morgan (5-11, 270) of Oak Grove and Mario Owens (6-0, 280) of Collins will see playing time, as will freshmen ends Josh Herring (6-2, 240) of Bay Springs, Ryan Robinson (6-4, 240) of Buford, Ga., Jimmy Dotson (6-4, 230) of Enterprise and Darius Jordan (6-1, 230) of Northeast Jones.
Leading the way at linebacker will be Mize sophomore D.A. Autry (6-2, 220) and Shelby, N.C., sophomore Evan Bostic (6-2, 235), a transfer from Garden City Community College (Kan.) Taylorsville freshman Leroyce Keyes (6-2, 210), Heidelberg freshman Santonio Jones (5-10, 215) and Laurel freshman Ronnie Ducksworth (5-10, 190) will also play.
The Bobcats go with five players in the secondary and the five projected starters are all sophomores.
Raleigh ’s Chris Lofton (5-11, 175) is at the boundary corner, while Laurel ’s Deantrae McInnis (5-9, 170) is at the field corner slot. West Jones’ Marcus Pierce (5-11, 185) is at strong safety and Northeast Jones’ Ramon Blakeney (6-2, 215) is at free safety. Raleigh ’s Jamie Bender (5-10, 200) will play the ‘Bobcat’ safety.
Raleigh sophomore Dontrell Walker (5-9, 185) and West Jones’ freshman Cory Cooley (6-0, 180) will also play at cornerback. Oak Grove freshmen Kewon Hunter (6-2, 200) and Jared Quinn (5-10, 180) are backup safeties, while West Jones’ freshman Roderick McCullum is the backup ‘Bobcat’ safety. South Jones’ freshman Haden Cox (5-9, 180) will also be in the mix in the secondary.
Quitman sophomore Jacob Chancellor (6-1, 185) returns as the placekicker and will also take over the punting duties this season. Columbia Academy freshman Jamie Forbes (6-2, 240) is the deep snapper.
Cochran, Jackson, Purifoy and Walker are the Bobcat team captains.
Pierce, who also coaches the defensive line, is assisted by Brad Griffin (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks/receivers), Steve Boyd (defensive coordinator/defensive backs), Ron Brewer (offensive line/tight ends), Picasso Nelson (linebackers), J. Mike Smith (running backs), Lacon Sheppard (kickers) and Chris Robinson (administrative).
All JCJC home games will be shown live on www.jcjc.tv with Lance Pittman doing the play-by-play and Mark Easley on color commentary. All games – home and away – can be heard on www.jcjc.edu and WGDQ-FM, 93.1.
The “Bobcat Football with Head Coach Eddie Pierce” will air each week on www.jcjc.tv and www.jcjc.edu/athletics.
Fans can also follow Bobcat athletics via Twitter by going to www.twitter.com/jcjc_athletics.
After JCJC’s trip to Itawamba, the Bobcats go to sixth-ranked East Mississippi on Thursday, Sept. 3.
JCJC’s home and South Division opener will be at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, against Co-Lin. It will cap off “Hall of Fame Weekend” festivities on campus.