JCJC averaged 327.5 passing yards per game, which ranked second in the MACJC and fourth in the NJCAA.
But among those gone from that team are NJCAA honorable mention All-American JaMichael Willis, who has walked on and made the roster at Southern Miss; Dylan Bossier, who is now at Southeastern Louisiana; and Quartez Cooks.
In addition, Ra’Quazious Boyd, a returning sophomore who has committed to UAB, is going to be redshirted this year because of an injury.
So, the only experienced returning receiver will be Taylorsville sophomore Rodregus Ducksworth (6-1, 175).
“The past two years we have had a really solid unit of receivers,” said third-year wide receivers coach Melvin Tart. “We are pretty young this year. Basically, we are trying to break some bad habits with the young guys during camp and get them to conform to what we want them to do. It’s been tough.
“We have days where we look real good and days where we don’t look so good. But the young guys are picking up the offense real well and we will be able to line up in different formations. I think it will be hard to prepare for us.”
Ducksworth posted some good numbers in 2013 with 20 receptions for 346 yards and one touchdown.
Tart is counting on Ducksworth this year.
“Rod gives us the ability to stretch the field,” he said. “He runs great routes and can get off press coverage. He is one of those receivers that you need. He is a safety net for our quarterbacks and he is known to catch the football.”
The remainder of the Bobcat receivers are all freshmen.
Bessemer, Alabama, freshman Jervohnte Riles (6-5, 230) has impressive credentials.
He committed to Arkansas out of high school and has done well in preseason workouts.
‘Riles came to us in the spring and has really blossomed,” Tart said. “He can play inside or outside. He is a big guy and catches the ball with his hands well. He runs well for his size, which kind of surprised us. It just took a while to knock the rust off.”
Devin Elliott (6-1, 190) of Okolona, Terrance Woods (6-2, 175) of Greene County, Logan Scott (6-5, 210) of Oak Grove and Trivillian Williams (6-1, 185) of McComb all bring positive assets to the table.
“Devin is another guy who helps to stretch the field,” Tart said. “He is very crafty.
Terrance played quarterback in high school. We just moved him to receiver recently and he’s trying to learn the system. He is getting there and he will be OK.
“Logan is another big body who plays inside for us. He has great hands and runs good routes. He is picking up our system real well. Trivillian is another inside guy with great hands. He’s a burner and can get up the field in a hurry.”
Raymond Crumpton (6-0, 205) of Greene County, Justin Smith (5-8, 190) of Stone, Kelvin Bourrage (6-1, 185) of Kemper County, Denver Magee (6-2, 205) of North Forrest and Shaka Brown (5-8, 160) of Ocean Springs will see playing time.
“Raymond played running back in high school,” Tart said. “We are doing with him kind of like we did with Justin Harris (running back) two years ago. He is a good player with a running back feel, so we are able to run sweeps and bubbles and get the ball in his hands so he can make plays. Justin will play receiver and running back for us. He runs great routes and has some of the best hands in the whole unit. Kelvin is playing quarterback, but we are playing him at receiver as well because we want to get athletes on the field.
“Denver is another big body, like Riles. We want to be able to shift him around and, with his size, try to get mismatches. We call Shaka ‘Slash’ because you will see him play every receiver position on the field. He is a smart guy. He is small, but he is very feisty, very tough and very gritty. He will help us out all over the field.”
Two late out-of-state additions to the receiver corps are Joe Pack (6-0, 180) of Salmen High School in Slidell, Louisiana, and DeMarcus Bingham (6-3, 225) of Foley, Alabama. Pack signed with Southeastern Louisiana out of high school, while Bingham committed to West Georgia.
“Joe is a pretty fast guy,” Tart said. “We are trying to get him to absorb as much as he can so we can have him ready to play by our first game. He has great hands and he moves real well with the ball.
“DeMarcus can also play inside and outside. The thing that helps him is that he comes from a school that ran the same offense we do. Even though he came in late it probably won’t take him as long to pick it up the offense like the other freshmen.”
Out of the 13 players who will play a receiver position this fall for the Bobcats, 12 are freshmen.
Tart said the coaching staff is doing as much as possible to prepare them for action.
“Obviously, we are freshmen heavy,” he said. “We meet with them as much as we can to make sure they know the signals and know what they’re doing. We are just trying to get them ready to play.”
But Tart said the makeup of the group would present problems for opposing defenses.
“We have a lot of options to choose from right now,” he said. “I also think we have more of the offense in at this point than we did for the past two seasons. I think it will be hard for teams to prepare for us because we have so many weapons.
“We’re fast and big and strong. We’ve got receivers in the 6-5 range and then we’ve got some who are 5-8. They are doing a good job of blocking, which is good because I believe we are going to try and run the football this year.”
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 with Mark Easley and Ed Smith on the call.
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