Veteran line will be key for No. 19 Bobcat offense
Written By: Shawn Wansley
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date Submitted: 2010-08-24 14:19:35
By Shawn Wansley
JCJC Sports Information Director
ELLISVILLE – Jones County Junior College offensive line/tight ends coach Ron Brewer is frank when it comes to describing his group.
“We are the bell cow up front,” he said. “We have got to take the lead and get those young guys behind us to follow. I tell my guys that everyday.
“We’ve got to put it on our shoulders.”
The 19th-ranked Bobcats have several talented players with game experience returning in the offensive line, while the skill position players have minimal playing time.
Heidelberg sophomore Jeremy Pierce (6-5, 295) will be at left tackle, while Oak Grove sophomore Cameron Morgan (6-1, 290) and Raleigh sophomore Eric Thurman (6-3, 280) are vying for the left guard spot. Enterprise sophomore Caleb McGruder (6-5, 300) is at center, Desoto Central sophomore Michael Curry (6-3, 300) will be at right guard and Laurel sophomore Brandon Bender (6-3, 285) is at right tackle.
“Jeremy is going to be a good one,” said Brewer. “He can be as good as he wants to be. He is a very good player. Both Cameron and Eric got a little playing time last year. They may not have as much experience as some of the others, but they are coming along and doing well in camp.
“Caleb played a lot of guard and was a backup center last year. He did a good job and has experience. Michael played a lot last year at tackle, but we’ve moved him inside to guard. He has picked up on it and is doing well. He probably started six games at tackle last year. Brandon was a starter for some games there last year and he is another good player.
“All of that front group has experience and talent. They are big and they are athletic. The biggest thing is the experience because that means so much in this league.”
At tight end, the Bobcats will be young. Caleb Prentiss from Greene County was expected to be a sophomore starter, but he has been sidelined by an injury and is now a student assistant coach.
South Jones’ freshman Keghan Livingston (6-3, 225) and Bay Springs’ freshman Ronald Payton (6-1, 230) are the tight ends.
“Keghan is running with the No. 1 offense right now,” said Brewer. “He has good speed and has done very well for us in camp. Donald signed with us as a defensive lineman and we moved him to tight end. I think we will be all right there.”
Backing the front line up is a solid group of freshmen.
Greene County’s McKay Tingle (6-4, 280) is at right tackle, while Perry Central’s J.T. Myers (6-2, 280) is at right guard. West Jones freshman Brett Saul (6-3, 270) is at center, while Laurel freshman Stacy Graham (6-4, 270) is at left tackle.
“We have some talented freshmen coming in, too,” said Brewer. “We’ve got some good guys there. They’ve got a little ways to go as far as knowing what to do and picking up on the speed of the game, but I’m pleased with them.
“McKay is probably my most improved lineman this camp. He has really come a long way and is getting better every day. J.T. has not been able to practice as much because of an injury, but I expect him to come back and play a big part for us in the middle. Brett is a smart kid and picks up on things quickly. He is doing a real good job. Stacy sat out last year, came out in the spring, made the team and is doing well. He has a step up because he was here in the spring and I expect big things out of Stacy.”
There are two walk-ons in the offensive line for the Bobcats. Patrick Sparkman (6-5, 300) is from South Leake and Robert “Dink” Lumley (5-10, 250) is from Presbyterian Christian School in Hattiesburg.
“We are three-deep at guards and we’re two-deep everywhere else,” said Brewer. “I’m really pleased with everyone and they are all doing well. Now, we’ve got a long way to go, but I think we are ahead of where we were this time last year.
“I am able to do a little more with these guys than I have in the past because we are so much more ahead than normal. They know the offense and they are solid.”
The Bobcats will open the season at 6 p.m. on Sept. 2 at Mississippi Delta Community College. The game will air on WGDQ-FM, 93.1, and on www.jcjc.tv (audio only) with Lance Pittman on the call and Mark Easley providing commentary.
Air time will be 5:30 p.m.