Jones Defensive Backs Preview

ELLISVILLE – Steve Boyd has seen a lot in his 22 years as an assistant coach at Jones County Junior College.

The wishbone, the veer, the ‘run-and-shoot,’ the I-formation, the power-I, pass-happy attacks, run-oriented schemes – you name it, he’s seen it.

Now, the defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach for the 10th-ranked Jones County Junior College Bobcats is having to deal with the latest craze – the HUNH or ‘hurry up no huddle’ offense.

“The offenses are trying to get an advantage on you,” he said. “So, we have to find a way to level the playing field.”

In the 4-2-5 JCJC defensive scheme, the Bobcats are trying to teach their players to learn multiple formations.

“We used to have players play ‘field corner’ and ‘boundary corner,’” Boyd said. “Now, they have to play both positions. It helps with all of these ‘hurry up’ offenses and keeps them from having to try and run across the field and try to set up for the next play.

“That’s the whole purpose of that fast-paced offense – to try and catch you off guard. If you are not aware of what’s going on and they snap the ball when you’re not ready, you’re in trouble.”

The starting cornerbacks for the Bobcats are expected to be Purvis sophomore Thamaz Taylor (5-9, 175) and Dothan, Alabama, freshman Marice Fluellen (6-0, 171), who originally signed with South Alabama. The strong safety is Picayune freshman Daveon Green (5-10, 208), while Hazlehurst freshman Dedric Reese (5-11, 175) is the free safety. The Bobcat safety will be Opelika, Alabama, freshman Aldreecous Wilson (5-11, 175), who originally signed with West Georgia.

“It’s a whole new crew for us back there,” Boyd said. “Those five guys will probably start off for us.”

Taylor is the only player with MACJC experience, but he was a running back for the Bobcats last year. He has now made the move to defense.

“Thamaz is a good football player,” Boyd said. “We’ve got some new running backs who are pretty doggone good and we had to find a spot for Thamaz. We want our best five in the secondary and our best 22 on the field.”

Serving as backup cornerbacks will be Wilson, Mize freshman Jamal Blackwell (5-10, 160) and Jackson Murrah sophomore Scott Martin (5-11, 180).

“Al’Dreecous is a good athlete and could start for us at corner,” Boyd said. “He is a very good player.”

Seminary freshman Raco Magee (5-10, 195) is at a backup strong safety slot, while Bay sophomore Coty Mitchell (6-1, 194) will see playing time at free safety. Oak Grove sophomore Kelvin Winston (6-3, 215) is the reserve ‘Bobcat’ safety.

Laurel freshman Stephen Ulmer (6-0, 186) can play either the ‘Bobcat’ or free safety slot. Again, it goes back to being able to be versatile on defense.

“We are trying to ‘double-teach’ those positions,” Boyd said. “If you play ‘Bobcat,’ you should be able to play free safety. If you are a free safety, you should be able to play ‘Bobcat.’ It’s all interchangeable and it helps with depth.

“If a guy goes down, then you should have a guy there who knows what to do and you are not starting over. You should have someone to step in who already has reps at that position.”

As far as the entire defense is concerned, Boyd is optimistic. But he knows there are several factors, including injuries, that will determine how successful the Bobcats are on defense this fall.

“Overall, everything is looking pretty good,” he said. “Hopefully, we don’t get a lot of them injured. Last year, we had four or five knee injuries and that hurt us. But that’s football. In some seasons, you may have four or five surgeries and in some seasons, nobody gets hurt.

“That’s why the next guy up, the No. 2 guy, has to be ready. He may not get as many reps in practice because of the time factor, but he has to be ready.”

Whatever happens, it will not be a surprise to Boyd.

“I’ve done this a long time,” he said. “But we’ll know a lot more about our team next Friday morning.”

The Bobcats open the season at 6:30 p.m. (EST) on Aug. 28 at Northwest Mississippi. The game will air on with Mark Easley and Ed Smith on the call.

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