The following is an official press release courtesy of JCJC Sports Information Director Shawn Wansley.
JCJC holds Football Media Day
ELLISVILLE, Miss. — It was a hot, humid Tuesday morning at Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field, but at least there was no rain.
First-year Jones County Junior College head coach Steve Buckley and the Bobcats got their photos taken and conducted interviews as Media Day activities were held.
Almost the entire Bobcat roster attended the second session of summer school and Buckley believes that set a good tone for fall camp.
“We’ve got good kids. They’ve been responsible, very accountable and they’ve been here for summer school,” he said. “So we’re just excited about that mindset going into it. If you do that off the field, it carries over on the field.”
JCJC will have an almost completely new 55-man roster from last year. Only 11 players return from the 2015 team that went 2-7.
“Traditionally, there is a high turnover,” said Buckley. “We are going to try and not be that way. We would like to keep kids here and get them graduated. That’s our goal. When we came in here, we evaluated kids socially, academically and athletically.
“We kept 11 kids off of last year’s squad and we have brought 44 new ones in. We will have 41 freshmen on this team, so we will be a very young football team.”
There is some talent with the returning players, transfers, senior college commits and highly regarded freshmen class.
Bay Springs sophomore defensive back Javien Hamilton (6-0, 164) and Tallahassee, Florida, sophomore defensive end Markel Winters (6-3, 243) have both committed to Ole Miss. Winters made the decision to go to Oxford in the spring, while Hamilton committed last weekend during a visit to the school.
“I talked with the defensive coordinator, the defensive back coach and the head coach while I was up there,” said Hamilton, who chose the Rebels over Southern Miss and Texas-San Antonio. “I liked it up there. It felt like home. When all of their DBs leave, I feel like I can come in and work for a spot.
“It was good to make the decision, so now I can focus on playing ball and not worrying about other schools coming in (to recruit).”
But now Hamilton is concentrating on helping the Bobcats enjoy a successful season.
“Our team is gelling good,” he said. “Coach Buckley has brought in a great staff and brought in some good young players. We are all going to compete and try to get better.
“Most of the young guys listen to me, so I just try to be the best leader I can because I know they look up to me.”
In addition to Hamilton and Winters, Long Beach wide receiver Trevor Terry (6-1, 178) has committed to Southern Miss and Purvis freshman placekicker Brady Farlow (5-10, 177) has committed to Louisiana Tech.
Safety Jonathan Abram (6-1, 206) of East Marion is a Georgia transfer and started nine games for the Bulldogs last year. Defensive end Marques Ford (6-2, 240) of Riverview, Florida, is a Rutgers University transfer and offensive lineman Kelby Wickline (6-5, 276) is a transfer from Texas-San Antonio.
Defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw (6-6, 318) of Charleston, South Carolina, and wide receiver Diondre Champaigne (6-3, 180) of Fort Dorchester, South Carolina, both committed to South Carolina and defensive back Deontai Williams (6-0, 178) of Jacksonville, Florida, was an Ohio University commit.
As far as local young talent is concerned, Collins’ freshman quarterback Detric Hawthorn (5-8, 161) is one of three new quarterbacks on the roster. He is battling Oak Grove freshman Alex Ward (5-10, 188) and Covington, Louisiana, freshman Mason Blocker (6-2, 200) for the starting role.
“We are ready, but we need more practice to get better,” said Hawthorn, who guided the Tigers to back-to-back 3A state championships. “Other colleges recruited me, but I knew where I was going. I was going to Jones even if they did not offer me. I was going to walk-on. But Jones was my first offer.”
South Jones freshman running back Scott Phillips (5-9, 199) is excited to be going across town to continue his career.
“It’s a blessing to not move far away,” he said. “I just want to come in and help turn the program around. It’s a blessing to do it in my hometown and make my family and friends proud.
“Coach Buckley has been a great influence on bringing the best out of me and making me compete.”
The Bobcats will open the 2016 season at home at 7 p.m. on Sept. 1 vs. East Mississippi Community College.