Bobcats feature talented wide receiver corps
Written By: Shawn Wansley
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date Submitted: 2011-08-28 14:16:32
By Shawn Wansley
JCJC Sports Information Director
ELLISVILLE – There is one position that stands out when evaluating the 2011 Jones County Junior College Bobcats – wide receiver.
JCJC returns four wideouts from last year, plus a transfer, to give them plenty of talent and depth there heading into the season.
“I have been pleased for the most part with the work ethic they’ve demonstrated,” said offensive coordinator Brad Griffin of his wideouts. “There are four guys who were here last year and they played a bunch. They are back and they are pretty honed in to what we want to do.”
The returnees are Deuce Coon (5-11, 200) of Baton Rouge, La., Malik Lofton (6-0, 195) of Wayne County, Jonathan Ducksworth (6-2, 200) of Bay Springs and Alec Barlow (5-9, 175) of Northeast Jones. Coon was a second-team All-MACJC selection last year.
“They have all caught the ball well in preseason,” said Griffin, who is also the quarterbacks/wide receivers coach. “Malik and Deuce are big play guys. They have the potential of getting over the top and running by people. Jonathan is a big target and can go across the middle for us. He can make big plays, too.
“Alec can do it. He’s a pretty good player and he’s deceptively fast. I wouldn’t be surprised if Alec has a really good year for us.”
The transfer is Jamaal Montague (6-2, 200) from Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Fla. Montague, who was placed at JCJC by the University of South Florida, is from Columbia High School in Lake City, Fla., the same school as Bobcat starting running back Tiger Powell.
“Jamaal is a pretty good runner,” said Griffin. “He was here in the spring. That’s provided him with an edge on the freshmen, but he does not have the experience the other guys have.”
Griffin said the Bobcats must have productive years from those five players in order to have a chance to win games.
“All of those guys right there, if they will take care of business and make plays and continue to work and do what we ask them to do, they will have options available to them,” he said. “Those guys need to make plays. For us to be successful, we have got to put the ball into the playmakers’ hands and give them an opportunity to make plays.
“Those first five really have to have a good year. To some degree, they need to step up and carry the load. If they will do that, our young quarterbacks should progress and get better. It’s those experienced receivers’ job to make those young quarterbacks look good.”
The Bobcats have several freshmen wideouts they are trying to work into the mix.
That group includes Stephanio McNair (6-1, 190) of Purvis, Ray Sims (6-2, 190) of Mize, Quartez Cooks (6-1, 180) of Quitman and walk-ons Martez Nixon (5-8, 170) of Taylorsville and Shelby Phillips (5-10, 170 of South Jones).
Griffin has been happy with their progress during preseason camp.
“Stephanio, Ray and Quartez are stepping in as freshmen and doing well,” he said. “Quartez can really fly. We did not know he could run that fast. We recruited Martez as a walk-on and he’s done a good job. He is a real solid, young man and will end up making the team. Shelby is a walk-on and has worked hard for us.”
Griffin said the Bobcats would be changing things up slightly in their version of the spread attack. Instead of asking the quarterbacks to make plays with their feet, they will be asked to make good decisions and get the ball to the wideouts and running backs.
“We will be in a lot of the same sets, but a little bit of the philosophy will be different,” he said. “In the past couple of years, we’ve allowed the quarterback to be an integral part of the running game.
“This year, that’s not going to be nearly the factor it has been. The quarterback has got to get the ball out to our wideouts and he’s got to hand it off to our running backs.”
However, Griffin added the plan of attack for the Bobcat offense would not change. He said they will take whatever the defense gives them – whether on the ground or through the air – when it comes to moving the football.
“Our expectations this year are no different than they are every year,” he said. “We want to be explosive, but we want to be able to control the ball. We want to run it effectively, too. We want the other team to have to defend both aspects… pick your poison.
“It does not matter to me. I just want to be good at what we do. I want the other team to look at us and say they have to do this, this and this to stop our running game. If they have to put another defender up there, then we have to be able to attack them in the secondary.
“That’s the way our offense works and that’s the way most spread teams work. But you have got to be able to execute.”
Griffin added that all of the pieces must fit together for the offense to flourish. That includes the experienced wideouts, along with the inexperienced quarterbacks and offensive line.
“I feel good with where we are right now on offense, but we’ve got to stay healthy,” he said. “I think we are solid at quarterback. We have a very young, but very athletic offensive line and they have given us a good effort so far.
“I am anxious to see how we do this year. The desire is there and our players have a passion for winning. I think everyone will see that.”
The Bobcats open the season at home at 7 p.m. on Sept. 1 at Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field against Mississippi Delta Community College. The game will be televised on www.jcjc.tv and can be heard on WGDQ-FM, 93.1. Lance Pittman will call the play-by-play and Mark Easley provides commentary.