Team Preview: Jones County

ELLISVILLE – It was not like meeting the press in New York City when he was named the head coach of the New York Giants in 1979. But first-year Jones County Junior College head football coach Ray Perkins made time for the handful of sportswriters and broadcasters in attendance during JCJC Football Media Day, which was held here Saturday morning in the A.B. Howard Gymnasium.

"I am not sure coaching in the NFL carries over to here," Perkins said of the comparisons to coaching with the Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL vs. junior college football. "I don't think anything from there helps me here. Now, coaching in college helps a bit more. We've got a two-year program, as opposed to a four-year program, which I am used to.

"This program, as well as the other junior college programs, concerns a time in a young man's life that just may be the most important time in his life. It's his first two years out of high school and his first and second year out of college."

Perkins, who also served as head coach at his alma mater – the University of Alabama – from 1983-86, was named head coach at JCJC in December of 2011.

He took the Bobcats through spring practice and the team has been going through summer conditioning drills for the past two weeks.

Perkins said the Bobcats have work to do to get ready for the Aug. 30 season opener at home against Holmes Community College.

"The biggest challenge is to get our football team in shape and in good physical condition," he said. "I don't worry too much about getting the X's and O's to them. I worry about getting them in great physical condition because it will be hot early in the year.

"I think, quite frankly, the team that is in the best physical condition is going to have an edge."

But Perkins is confident the Bobcats will be prepared when the season begins.

"We are probably where we were at the end of spring," he said. "We are not ready right now. We are not there and I think our players know that. But we will be when it comes time to blow that first whistle. We will be in good shape."

Perkins noted that several players, including sophomore quarterback Ben Stevens, sophomore linebacker Damien Wilson and sophomore defensive end Chavez Sims, would be counted upon as leaders on and off the field for the Bobcats.

Stevens, a West Jones product, completed 188-of-306 passes for 2,078 yards as a freshman. Wilson, a sophomore from Amite County, transferred to JCJC from Alcorn State University, where he saw considerable action in 2011. Sims is a redshirt sophomore from Mize and had 22 tackles last year.

"Ben is one of our great team and offensive leaders," Perkins said. "He has progressed really well through the course of spring and early fall. Damien Wilson, a middle linebacker, will be a leader, along with Chavez Sims in the defensive line. I think I am sensing other guys want to do some form of leadership.

"I sense that our team is kind of coming together like it needs to be when we start against Holmes."

Perkins believes the defense has a chance to be an asset for the Bobcats.

"I am hoping that our defense will be a strength," he said. "I am hoping that we will have a defense that really understands the importance of going to the ball, or swarming to the ball, as I like to call it.

"The addition of a few players on defense will help us. I was not here so I can't comment on what the defense did last year. But I think we can be a little bit better on defense as I look on the films from last year. But that's to be seen."

Offensively, Perkins said the Bobcats would be a fast and quick team.

"Offensively, we've added some guys with some speed," he said. "Overall, I think our offensive team speed will definitely be a plus for us. That is whether you talk about tight ends, wide receivers or backs. We've got really good speed."

Overall, Perkins is excited about being back on the sidelines and is ready for the first game vs. Holmes.

"I'm just happy and pleased that Jones County Junior College gave me this opportunity to be involved with them at this time," he said. "It's been great so far."

The Bobcats will go through summer conditioning drills for two more weeks and then report for fall camp in mid-August.

The "JCJC Football Media Day" show will be posted soon on JCJC-TV. The show will feature interviews with Perkins, offensive coordinator David Thornton, defensive coordinator Steve Boyd, Stevens, Sims and Wilson.

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