Team Preview: East Mississippi

East Mississippi, coming off an undefeated season and a national championship, has a target on their backs in 2012 and while they have a daunting task of repeating their results from last year, they have to feel pretty confident in their chances with the amount of talent they have returning, especially on the defensive side of the ball...

While the entire roster is loaded with talented players, one player who can't help but be missed is QB Bo Wallace who decided to leave a year early and sign with Ole Miss after posting huge numbers - a 67% completion rate, 4,604 yards, 53 touchdowns and only 14 interceptions.

Trying to fill his shoes this year will be Quez Johnson who is smart, but has yet to throw a pass for the Lions.

When they want to throw the ball down the field, the Lions have several very talented receivers to target even though they lost five of their top six receivers from last year's team.

Antoinne Adkins did a lot of work from the slot last season, hauling in 21 receptions for 315 yards and two touchdowns. He is still waiting on his first offer, but he definitely has the ability to play at a BCS school if he finds the right program.

Corey Smith is an outstanding target and already has offers from the likes of Alabama, Ohio State, Syracuse, West Virginia, Washington, Michigan State and Georgia among others.

Also in the mix outside for the Lions is Nickolas Brassell who has an offer from Ole Miss as well.

The tight end position is going to be held down by Martavius Foster, a big, physical athlete who has the ability to get down the field and possesses soft hands, but also has the chops to be a very good blocker in the running game.

Rodriguez Moore is the top returning tailback and is a likely First Team All-American candidate after posting 1,303 yards and seven scores. He currently has one offer, from Texas Tech, but by the end of the season he should have plenty more as it is hard to find a player with his talents avaible to come in and play right away.

Along the offensive line, keep an eye on the likes of Jarrod Atterberry and Tyler Stanley, both of whom will be asked to lead a young group of linemen into battle this fall.

On defense, the Lions lost a lot of talent to BCS schools following their 2011 season, but they still have plenty of prospects garnering attention from four-year schools.

Ricky Holt, Lauren Jackson, Jarran Reed and Za'Darius Smith all return after solid seasons in 2011.

Jackson posted 32 tackles and four sacks while Smith notched 19 tackles and 4.5 sacks whiel working in the rotation last season.

The linebacking corps is led by D.J. Jordan, who racked up 40 tackles last season in spot duty. He is joined by Quinn McClendon, Christian Russell and Corey Williams all of whom are athletic and instinctive players.

In the secondary, the Lions likely have the top safety tandem in the country with Georgia commit Shaquille Fluker manning one of the safety spots and Justin Cox, who has offers from at least 15 schools, will hold down the other spot.

From a productivity standpoint, Fluker was all over the place as a freshman in 2011, posting 72 tackles, 1.5 sacks and two interceptions.

Cox led the team in interceptions with five while posting 67 tackles.

At corner, Jason Yarbor and Frank Richardson each had solid freshman seasons and they will be counted on to lock down opponents' top receivers, freeing their playmaking safeties to fly to the ball.

The Lions have a tough test right out of the chute this year when they play host to Pearl River on August 30th, but have a fairly manageable schedule the rest of the way seeing as they miss Mississippi Gulf Coast and Hinds this fall.

If EMCC can figure out their quarterback situation, they have the athletes and coaching staff to challenge again for a national championship and will likely be at the top of the rankings this season.

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