Lions Loaded Again

East Mississippi won the NJCAA National title in 2011. Under the direction of Head Coach Buddy Stephens, the Lions duplicated that feat last year. EMCC is projected to open #1 in the NJCAA pre-season polls and with good reason. The Lions' roster is stacked with talented players once again. The defending champs are already in spring practice as they prepare to chase another title.

I had the chance to visit with Coach Buddy Stephens and learn more about the players that major college recruiters are already jockeying for position to sign.

OL David Mahaffey - "Louisiana Tech is actually trying to get him to come now. Ole Miss called today and told us that they're going to be recruiting him. I am not sure how much interest (Mississippi) State is going to have, but we've talked. David is a big country kid that has really grown. His feet have gotten a lot better and that was sort of his down fall. He's a MS/AL All-Star guy that did a great job at Brandon and came here very physically strong. He was a power lifter in high school and they did a great job at Brandon teaching him fundamentals. He came in here ahead of a lot of guys. He understands defenses, box numbers, zone techniques and his learning curve has really straightened out. He's our bell cow. He comes out here and gets the other guys going. He and Jamal Danley are our next two great offensive linemen."

OL Jamal Danley - "Things are really starting to happen for Jamal. He is a lot like (Avery Gennesy), but a lot more athletic. Avery was a very good athlete, but Jamal is a more fluid runner. He is a guy that can come in and do well if he keeps his weight down. He has a really good weight he plays at and it's about 300 or 305. If he can keep his weight down and get his strength up over the summer, he is going to be a big time recruit. Jamal is a big, strong kid that has great agility. He was a defensive lineman coming out of high school and he was good enough to come in here and play defensive line, but he feels like offensive line is the place for him to be. He is really good at it. He has the potential to play inside or edge. He's very coachable and he keeps a real level headed kid who keeps his emotions in check."

DT D.J. Jones - "He has offers from all over, but you know how it is with defensive tackles. Everybody is always after them. He reminds me a lot of these guys who have played in the NFL like a Warren Sapp. He is so compact and so strong with his hands, that you just can't get inside to block him. He is going to be a great guy to hold the point and his ceiling is just tremendous. We have coached a lot of guys that have gone on the the NFL and he's an NFL type guy. Sometimes we even lined up him up on the edge. He has really good hands and good feet. We just need him to be the leader for us and the big thing for him is to keep the weight off. He needs to drop a little weight right now and that will be big for him.

ATH Todd Mayes - "To me he is an NFL 3rd down back. He is a guy who can come in and do anything. He sort of reminds me of (Dexter McCluster) kid at Ole Miss. He can catch passes, he can run back kicks and he can play quarterback. The thing about him that is deceiving is that he has a great arm. He's our starting quarterback right now. He is the kind of kid who is very electric and he has a lot of moves. Sometimes he has too many moves. We're working on him just making that one move and then go. He's making three or four moves sometimes when he just needs one. It hurt him some last year. He led the country in touchdowns last year and he could have had even more. He is just a tremendous athlete and he's an even better kid."

LB Demetrius Cain - "You talk about an unselfish kid. He has come in and played linebacker and he is a stud. If people look passed him being 5-11, they are going to get a great player. He is going to go somewhere and he's going to play a lot. He is the first guy in the weight room and he's the last out. He is extremely intelligent and articulate and really just a joy to be around. He has so many of the intangibles you look for. He can cover in space or he can play inside. I mean he is the guy we put on our all of our special teams and he contributes no matter where we put him. He won the state championship in high school as a running back and he is a great running back, but he wanted to play linebacker. We wanted to find what he was going to be best at and it looks like that is going to be linebacker. He knows he can impact there every down."

See what other Bulldog fans have to say on the recruiting forum.

DE Austin Roberts - "He is a 6-6, 240 pound guy that Mississippi State and Alabama both had a hand in getting here. He has come in and graduated from high school here. If he can get his mind right, he will be an NFL defensive end. He's a long, athletic guy that everybody loves. He had a foot surgery that is going to help him a lot. That kept him out of a couple of games last year, but he will be good to go. He is a guy that people need to really keep an eye on. At this point, I would say he is better than Za'Darius Smith was. Za'Darius might have been a little more physical, but Austin is a longer, leaner kid that can really move."

WR Brandon Acker - "He's out there playing on the baseball field and we wish we had him. He is going to be a difference maker for us. The kind of player he is is just great. He is a team player. He is where he is supposed to be. He has great ball skills. This will be his last year playing baseball, because he is going to have some real serious scholarship offers to play football in December and I hope they start close to home. I think he has the chance ACC, SEC guy because of who he is and how he handles his business. He is a great kid."

WR Cameron Myers - "Cam is a leader. A lot of kids get out here and they are in a hurry to get done, so they can go do something. He works hard to get out of here on Thursdays, so he can go him and see his kid. He is just that sort of person. He takes care of his business and he is a fast, shifty athlete."

CB Jeryl Brazil - "The Brazil kid that transferred in here from LSU is fast. He is unbelievably fast. He has taken ownership of his action and how he handles himself on a daily basis. He knows that he only has a small room to move in here and he knows what we expect of him. He knows what he has to do. He has been a pleasant guy to be around and we're excited to have him. He's a great athlete."

QB Max Staver - "Max came in from Florida. He is a guy that is trying to learn the process we go through here and learn the offense. He has to learn to get rid of the ball faster. He has a little bit of a hitch in his throw and we're going to work on that. I see a tall guy who is really working hard. He is very intelligent, but I don't want him to over think things. I want him to be able to just go play and enjoy it."

RB Preston Baker - "He is going to have several offers. He is from Starkville High school and he has done a really good job for us here. He is fast as all get out at and he can be powerful. He does a good job running the ball."

WR Jamarcus Revies - "He is from Petal and came here after leaving Southern Miss. He just didn't see eye to eye with the coach down there on some things. He probably didn't handle it as well as he should have and he knows that. He went in there with a lot of loyalty, but I think it was just time for a change for him. Todd (Monken) has to do what he needs to do to turn that program around. I think the kid sort of got caught up in that. He has been good to be around here and he knows that this is his second chance. He is playing slot for us and we feel like that's where is going to fit best."

OL Jacob Feeley - "He is doing really well. He's another MS/AL guy and we had four of the OLs from that year. We'll see what kind of season he has. He has gotten bigger and strong and I feel like things are going to go well with for him."

OL Jawon Johnson - "He is playing right guard for us now. He is going to be a freshman this year, so he is not going to be a recruited guy this year. He still needs to get in shape. He's going to play an offensive line position for us and we'll just see how it goes."

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