But JCJC offensive line coach Chuck Robertson thinks his ‘fat boys’ have a chance to be better than last year’s group, which paved the way for some impressive offensive numbers.
“I think we are a bigger and more athletic group than we had last year, but we have not gelled like that group last year,” he said. “That is going to take just getting out there and playing.”
Anchoring the Bobcat line is that returning starter – center Travis Brogle (6-2, 280) of Bay. Brogle started only four games in 2013 because of injury, but Robertson likes what he brings to the table.
“Travis is, by far, the leader of the line,” said Robertson, who is being helped by student assistant Lane Brady. “You can tell he played last year. He knows all of the calls, knows the pass protections and knows the different things we try to do offensively. He is a small O-lineman, but he’s hard-nosed and enjoys competition.
"He is one of those kids that is always excited about practice and enjoys playing the game.”
Lining up at left tackle will be Raleigh sophomore Jraven Tribble (6-5, 295).
“Jraven missed the first couple of game last year, kind of got behind the 8-ball and didn’t really fit into the mix,” Robertson said. “He is a big, athletic kid. He is a few years older than the other guys, so mature-wise, he is a on a different level than an 18 or 19-year-old kid. Once he feels comfortable up front, he will be one of the best offensive linemen to come out of JCJC in a while.
“With his physique and athletic ability, it just puts him head and shoulders above others.”
Taylorsville freshman Doug Lofton (6-4, 325) is at left guard. Lofton played in the Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Game last year and originally signed with Louisiana-Monroe.
“We are real happy to have him here,” Robertson said. “Lofton is a huge asset for us and is making the adjustment to our style of offense. Once he becomes accustomed to the speed of the game, he will be really good. He struggled with the speed of the game at first, but he’s a smart kid and just a good old, country boy from Smith County.
“Once he adjusts and understands all of the calls, he will be fine.
At right guard will Hancock sophomore Devin Smith (6-2, 295). Smith played defensive tackle last year for the Bobcats, but has made a smooth transition to offense.
“I think the offensive line is probably Devin’s natural position,” Robertson said. “Anytime you can move an athlete from the D-line to the O-line, it makes you more athletic up front. That’s the type of kid that can adjust well to things. We only signed two offensive linemen, so moving Devin over helps tremendously. He is a big, athletic kid, who is really aggressive.
“He is a ‘yes, sir’ ‘no, sir’ kind of kid. He never asks ‘Why?’ – he just always does what he is asked to do.”
Gautier sophomore Tyrone Patterson (6-3, 310) is the leader at right tackle. Robertson has been very pleased with his progress.
“Tyrone has really come into his own in the last three weeks,” he said. “He is going to be an outstanding right tackle. He struggled last year with just trying to get the concept of our offense. But with a year under his belt, he has blossomed into an outstanding player.”
Hattiesburg freshman and Pearl River Community College transfer Khadedryck Todd (6-5, 285) will be a reserve tackle.
“We are excited that he is here, but he still has a little bit to go,” Robertson said. “He is a very athletic kid and once he understands how to practice and compete a little more, he will be a huge asset for us.”
Hazlehurst redshirt freshman Joseph Nelson (6-4, 350) will see playing time as a guard.
“Joseph is in the mix to start at guard, but the other two are a bit ahead right now,” he said. “Big Joe came to us last year and sat out, but he went through spring and that puts him ahead of the incoming freshmen.”
Hazlehurst freshman Torian Samuels (6-2, 310) played in the Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Game last year and is in a reserve role along the offensive line.
“Torian works hard, but he has not caught up to the speed of the game yet,” Robertson said. “When he does, he can be really good.”
Another backup lineman who will see action is John Brown (6-1, 300), a freshman from North Forrest. Brown has provided a boost to the Bobcat offensive line in preseason workouts.
“John has been the biggest surprise to me,” Robertson said. “He is a mirror image of Travis. He is a little shorter, but he is athletic, he is strong and he is smart. He asks the right questions in practice. When he becomes comfortable out there, he will be really good. He has been just a huge surprise for us.”
Redshirt offensive linemen this year will be Joey Lofton (6-0, 227) of Stringer and Antonio Jones (5-11, 254) of Bay Springs.
Last year, the Bobcats averaged 463.0 yards per game with 327.5 yards per game through the air and 135.5 yards on the ground.
Robertson thinks the rushing numbers should be improved this season, especially with the addition of freshman running backs Tevin Moore of Stringer, D’Alex Rockingham of Hazlehurst and James Milledge of Petal.
“We should be able to run the ball better than we did last year because not only are we bigger and more physical, but because of the fact we’ve got three outstanding running backs,” he said. “We were a pass-heavy team last year and we used that to set up the run. Hopefully, we can run to set up the throw this year.
“But every year is different and we just have to make adjustments as we go along.”
The Bobcats open the season at 6:30 p.m. (EST) on Aug. 28 at Northwest Mississippi. The game will air on www.jcjc.tv.
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