Stevens has edge in JCJC quarterback competition

Written By: Shawn Wansley
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Date Submitted: 2011-08-27 13:55:17

 By Shawn Wansley

JCJC Sports Information Director

ELLISVILLE – Jones County Junior College offensive coordinator Brad Griffin has four freshmen he is working with at quarterback this preseason.

But Griffin has been quite pleased with the progress those young Bobcats – Ben Stevens, Davin Burch, Eric Godette and Bryant Baucum – have made over the summer and during preseason camp.

“As a group, they are looking pretty good,” Griffin said. “We signed three guys – Ben, Davin and Eric. Plus, we’ve got Bryant here as a walk-on. Eric had a shoulder injury prior to coming here, so that kind of hit us a little bit at that position coming into the year.

“Overall, I am really pleased with the quarterback position and the way they have performed in practice.”

Stevens (6-2, 190) starred at West Jones High School and led the Mustangs to the South State 5A championship game last season. He also represented the state as the starting quarterback in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game last December in Mobile, Ala.

Burch (6-1, 185) is from Mize, Godette (6-0, 175) is from Quitman and Baucum (6-0, 190) played at South Jones and Sylva-Bay Academy.

Griffin said Stevens has the edge at the moment.

“Ben has gotten most of the reps with the No. 1s right now,” said Griffin, who also serves as quarterbacks/wide receives coach. “Ben is the frontrunner and Davin is a close second. Bryant has come on and done a nice job. Eric has been slowed by that injury.”

Griffin said Stevens does a good job of reading defenses and making the right throws.

“The biggest thing with Ben is that he makes up for a lack of foot speed with his intelligence,” he said. “There again, he has to have a complete understanding of what we are doing on a particular play. So far, he has picked up on everything well.

“Ben is a very bright and smart young man. He throws an excellent ball. I would say his arm strength on a scale of 1-10 is about an eight or nine. He is very accurate.”

Griffin added that Stevens possesses almost all of the qualities a coach wants in a quarterback.

“He has two out of the three things you want at that position,” Griffin said. “When you find one with all three, you really have something special. You want a guy who can think quickly and make good decisions under pressure. You want a guy who can run the offense and have leadership skills. Ben has all of those intangibles.

“The third thing is running. Ben is a good athlete, but his foot speed is not great.”

Burch has also shown an ability to play the position well, according to Griffin.

“Davin is a young man who has talent, but he does not have as much experience when it comes to reading coverages and determining where to throw the football,” he said. “But now that he has gotten some practice time in this preseason, he is doing some really good things. And that makes us better.”

Griffin said the main thing is for all of his quarterbacks to practice and take as many repetitions as possible. He believes the more they play, the better off they will be.

“Competition has been good and they have all picked up pretty well on what we are trying to do,” he said. “Right now, the biggest issue we have is being consistent. I attribute some of that to the speed of the game and just being used to it.  They have to understand every day they have to have the proper mental preparation and the mental attitude.

“But nothing has shown me they cannot do it. Right now, they will go through one drill and look really good. Then, they will go to another one and just do OK or maybe not as good as the day before. They just have to be able to play at a high level all of the time and that comes with experience and being able to adapt.”

The Bobcats open the season at home at 7 p.m. on Sept. 1 in Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field against Mississippi Delta Community College. The game will be televised on and can be heard on WGDQ-FM, 93.1. Lance Pittman will call the play-by-play and Mark Easley provides commentary.


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