Jones Country Junior College

Jones Preview: Offensive Line

ELLISVILLE – Chuck Robertson has few complaints with the Jones County Junior College offensive line...

"Overall, this group is one I never have to worry about being late to breakfast check, missing class or not being ready to practice," said Robertson, who is in his third year as the JCJC offensive line coach. "This is one of the better groups of kids I've ever had, on and off the field. They are very respectful, they understand how the game is supposed to be played and they know they are here to get an education and not just to play football. They know there is something after football.

"It's been a grind so far, but it's been an enjoyable month and a half with them. They will be ready to block somebody else in the first game."

The Bobcats have three returning offensive linemen from last year.

Sophomores Doug Lofton (6-4, 325) of Taylorsville, John Brown (6-0, 300) of North Forrest and Torian Samuels (6-2, 310) of Hazlehurst are expected to start this fall.

Lofton, who will be at left guard, has made the preseason JCGridiron.com list of Top Guards to Watch. He originally signed with Louisiana-Monroe before transferring to JCJC just prior to the start of the 2014 season.

"Doug is a great kid," Robertson said. "He preached two sermons the other day and he is a leader in our campus FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). He is the kid you would not mind your daughter bringing home. But to be that kind of kid, he actually has a pretty good mean streak in him when it comes to playing football.

"He has improved dramatically since last year. He had probably five offers to leave for senior college after last year, but he enjoyed Jones so much that he decided to stay for his sophomore year. It's not just the football team, it's the FCA and the whole college aspect of it. He is a great effort guy. He is smart and never has a bust."

Brown is a walk-on and earned a scholarship. He will be the starting center.

"John came to a tryout, we signed him and he is one of the greatest kids I've ever had the privilege to coach," Robertson said. "He is a 'yes, sir' and 'no, sir' kid. He never misses a class and no one ever has a negative thing to say about him. He is an outstanding young man. Having said all that, he is a pretty good football player, too.

"He is my 'bell cow' at center. He suffered a hernia injury in the spring and I had to hold him out, which hurt. John is the type of kid that cannot stand to miss practice. Even now, I have to pull him back some because of that. But he is hard-nosed and strong. When he gets his hands on you, you are going somewhere. He gets us in all of the right protections and he is a smart kid."

Samuels is the leader at right tackle after having a solid freshman campaign. Robertson said he had the best spring practice of all of the offensive linemen.

"Toriaun has improved his technique and his strength," he said. "He is able to play out of his hips about as well as anybody I've had in 15 years of coaching. Once again, he is a smart kid and does a good job of picking up the blitz. He understands where the play is going to be run and where he needs to be.

"He can probably tell you where everybody is supposed to go on every snap. He is a student of the game and another great young man."

The leader at left tackle is Dalton Bullock (6-5, 300), a freshman from Oak Grove. Bullock originally signed with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

"Bullock sat out a year after leaving Gulf Coast," Robertson said. "He came to us at Christmas. I would not say he's been a surprise, but he's done well. He has a great attitude and is a great athlete. He just lacks game experience. But being here in the spring will make him much, much better."

There is a battle for the starting right guard slot between freshmen Joshua Newcomb (6-2, 285) of West Jones and Brock Flemings (6-3, 285) of East Webster. Robertson likes what both of those players bring to the table.

"Josh has a bit of the lead because he enrolled in class in the spring and went through our workout and running program. He has an understanding of how we run the offense," Robertson said. "He is another hard-working young man. Once he adjusts to the speed of the game, it will be better for him.

"Brock is a bigger kid. He came from a small school and it's kind of the same thing with Josh – the speed of the game is a little quick for him right now. Once he adjusts, he will be a lot better."

Another player to watch at right guard is Laurel freshman Vincent McGill (6-1, 300). McGill can also play center.

"McGill has been a big surprise," Roberson said. "We got him after summer camp and he has done a good job. He is starting to understand it all and he is in the mix at right guard and is our backup center."

Freshman Gregory Sheppard (6-2, 325) of Seminary has been working as a backup left tackle, along with Flemings.
"Greg only played one year of high school football and is a little behind because of that," Robertson said. "But he has some God-given talents, such as long arms, big hips and strong legs that really help him. Once he develops in a year or so, he will be a pretty special o-lineman."

Brandon freshman Josh Alford (6-2, 270) can play center and both guard slots.

"Josh is a little undersized, but he came from a great school that already runs most of our offense, so that puts him ahead of the game a little bit," Robertson said. "He is a full-fledged, outstanding effort guy. From the time you say 'hut' until the time you blow the whistle, he stays after it."
Another walk-on is Kasey Shepherd of Northeast Jones. He is working at right tackle.

"Kasey is a great kid," he said. "He practices in the day and goes to work all night. There are not enough positive things you can say about a young man that comes in and does stuff like that. All the kids enjoy him being around. They understand what he's going through and how much work he has put in to be a part of the team."

Another freshman that had a chance to play a lot this year, but was sidelined by an injury is Jemar Nunley (6-3, 285) of Lake.

"Jemar was going to have a chance to play or even start, but he injured a knee late in summer camp," Robertson said. "He had a chance to return later in the year, but we decided the best thing to do was to not waste a year for him just to play a couple of games. Jemar not playing for us is a loss."

Robertson, who is being helped by graduate assistant Davis Ishee, believes this is the fittest group he has had since he has been with the Bobcats. He credits strength and conditioning coach Nolan Darby with making the players better.

"We came in this year in a lot better shape than in the previous two years I've been here," he said. "Coach Darby has made a huge difference in those kids in what to expect. He does a great job with them."

Overall, Robertson is excited about his group of "Fat Boys" in the offensive line.

 "I have a great group of kids, blue-collar kids that work hard," he said. "They punch the clock every day, they don't complain or gripe. They just go to work.

"I have more depth than I've had in the past. I'm not scared to put any kid in at any point and time. It's just the next man up. All of them have done a good job of getting themselves prepared to play and not just be a part of the team."

Jones started the season with a 42-20 loss to Northwest Mississippi last Saturday. This Thursday, the Bobcats will face off against Itawamba on the road.


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