Jones Preview: Quarterbacks

ELLISVILLE – The Jones County Junior College Bobcats have quite a battle shaping up for the starting quarterback position.

Redshirt freshman Steven Swindle, freshman Kenny Coleman and freshman Ra'Quazious Boyd are all listed as quarterbacks in preseason camp.

Bobcat offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach David Thornton is excited about the ability of all three players.

"They all have talent and skill," he said. "They have all done well in camp so far."

Swindle (6-1, 194) prepped at Oak Grove High School. He was a redshirt at Mississippi State University last year.

"Swindle was here in the spring and has done a good job," Thornton said. "He is a pretty football-savvy kid. He understands concepts and coverages. He throws a pretty ball and is a decent runner. Overall, he has done a good job with what we have asked him to do, which is distribute the ball because we feel we have a lot of playmakers on offense. They can do some things when they get the ball in their hands.

"Steven has been out a year, since he redshirted at State. He has that experience under his belt where he learned some stuff and he can use the coaching he got up there to his advantage. That has helped him out."

Coleman (6-1, 170) guided Hazlehurst to the MHSAA 3A state championship last year. He passed for 2,267 yards and 20 touchdowns in leading the Indians to the title.

"Kenny brings a lot to the table," Thornton said. "He is a dynamic player, a dual-type guy. He throws a good ball and runs very well. He is also football-savvy and understands the game. He came on really quickly this summer and has done a good job. He and Swindle are neck and neck.

"He led Hazlehurst to a state championship and a state runnerup finish (as a junior), so I guess you could say he has the credentials. He has been there and done that. He is a winner. Another thing I like about him is one of those guys where there is no high or low and that's one attribute you need as a quarterback. You have to be on an even keel – that rock everybody relies on. You know he is going to be steady and that will be an asset as the season goes along."

Boyd (6-5, 215) is from Lafayette, Ala., and is regarded as one of the top athletes on the squad.

"I've been calling him ‘Bo' lately," Thornton said. "Bo Jackson was a great athlete and so is Qua. We say ‘Bo knows how to play quarterback' or ‘Bo knows how to play wide receiver' or ‘Bo knows how to play tight end.' He is just a great athlete and he can line up at a number of different positions and do well for us.

"We are going to try and take advantage of what he can do. He is just a phenomenal athlete. He is such a big kid and he knows how to use his body. He has taken snaps at quarterback, receiver and tight end. He has been able to do all three and do them well."

Thornton likes the makeup of JCJC's 1-back, four-receiver set. He is particularly impressed with the athleticism of the offense.

"We have a lot of guys who have a chance to take it all the way at any time," he said. "Obviously, we want to be a balanced offense of run and pass to make people have to work at trying to stop both. I think we have the players to do that.

"We have good running backs, guys that are quick and physical backs, who do a good job of getting ‘north and south' with the ball. You put that together with the skill players we have at receiver and it's a great combination for us to be successful on offense."

JCJC is replacing both quarterbacks from last year.

Ben Stevens, who graduated, started the first five games in 2012 before being sidelined by an injury.

Ethan Hamilton, who started the final four games after Stevens' injury, elected to transfer rather than return for his sophomore year.

The Bobcats of head coach Ray Perkins will open the 2013 season at 7 p.m. on Aug. 29 at Holmes Community College. The game will be audiocast on with Mark Easley and Ed Smith on the call.

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