2011 Team Preview: Pearl River

It seems that year in and year out, Pearl River has some of the most talented JUCO prospects in the country on their roster and 2011 is no different. Now the question is, can coach Tim Hatten, now entering his ninth season at the helm of the program, and his staff get this team over the hump and into the NJCAA Championship Game?

Hatten and his staff return 14 starters -- 9 on offense and 5 on defense -- from last year's squad that went 6-3 on the season.

Leading the Wildcats' offensive attack is QB Melvin German who had an outstanding freshman season where he was named a First Team NJCAA All-American, All-Region 23, Region 23 Offensive Player of the Year, All-MACJC after completing 240 of 369 pass attempts for 2,728 yards with 16 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He also rushed for 119 yards and eight more scores.

With his 6'3, 200-pound frame and legitimate 4.45 speed, German is a threat to use his arm or his legs to hurt defenses and, while recruiting hasn't been as heated as it should be, things are about to pick up once the season gets underway.

When German drops back to pass, he has four talented receivers to look for in Seth Roberts, Steve McNair, Snoop Rollins and Jonathan Duncan.

Roberts is probably the top prospect out wide after posting 49 receptions for 733 yards, which led the team, along with 6 touchdowns as a freshman last fall.

McNair was also solid leading the team and with 56 receptions while going for 631 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Up front, Chandlor Mathews is the left tackle and leader of a group of young, but talented line prospects.

Mathews will be tasked with keeping German upright while also paving the way for the ground game which must improve upon their paltry 65 yard average from last season.

On defense, the Wilcats boast some serious speed and size and DT Alton Bailey is a rock in the middle for Pearl River.

As a freshman in 2010, Bailey used his 6'4", 330 pound frame to wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines and racked up 29 tackles, 3 tackles-for-loss, 2 fumble recoveries and 1 interception that he returned 26 yards.

Bailey is already getting plenty of attention from four-year programs and he should see things really pick up after the start of the season.

At linebacker, Quan Fletcher and Chris Bermond are the big names.

Fletcher was voted All-MACJC as a freshman after registering 69 tackles, 8 tackles-for-loss, 2 sacks and 1 forced fumble from his outside spot and Bermond was a rock in the middle notching 71 tackles, 6 tackles-for-loss, 2 sacks and 1 forced fumble.

With the amount of returning talent as well as youngsters like running backs Markeyus Johnson and Kollin Johnson and offensive linemen Cody Conkle, Levi Freeman, Conner Jones and Jordan Sutherlin, the Wildcats should have one of the most explosive offenses in the nation.

Their first test comes on Thursday, September 1st as they travel to take on Northwest Mississippi.

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