Commentary

Mississippi junior colleges are loaded

Originally Published: September 1, 2011
By Jamie Newberg | ESPN Recruiting

Scouring the junior college ranks is part of the recruiting process for many of the college football programs throughout the country, especially after the most recent succes of Cam Newton.

Every college should check out Mississippi, where there are multiple junior colleges with promising prospects including East Mississippi Community College in Scooba, Miss., where DE Denico Autry plays.

"Some people say he's the best in the country and some say he's No. 2," East Mississippi C.C. coach Buddy Stephens said. "I know this, he's really good. Denico is a 6-foot-5 guy that can really run and he will hit you. He can really rush the passer."

[+] EnlargeDenico Autry
Courtesy of Clint ScrivenerDenico Autry has scholarship offers from every school in the SEC, except Vanderbilt, as well as offers from Florida State and Texas A&M.

Stephens and his staff found Autry in Albemarle, N.C., playing single A high school football. They signed him in 2009 and he redshirted the following year. Now he has scholarship offers from every school in the SEC, except Vanderbilt, as well as offers from Florida State and Texas A&M.

"Denico was just one of those late bloomers," Stephens said. "He has put on a bunch of weight and has really gotten bigger and stronger. We just knew he needed a year to grow and get bigger and better. I had guys like Pernell McPhee and Raven Gray and he's better."

Other intriguing prospects at East Mississippi include DL Damien Jacobs, WR Rodney Davis, QB Bo Wallace OT Brandon Moore, WR LaColton Bester, WR Markeith Ambles.

Jacobs, 6-5 and 315 pounds, is from Humble, La., and he originally signed with Florida State in 2010.

"Right now he's committed to Tennessee," Stephens said. "But I know Texas A&M is all over him and they are coming by on Thursday. Teams like Ole Miss and Mississippi State have offered him. This kid is so strong and very physical. He has a great presence in the middle."

Davis, 6-2 and 200 pounds, is from Stanhope Elmore High School in Millbrook, Ala., and many schools are high on him.

"Alabama, Missouri, Auburn and Ole Miss are some of his offers," Stephens said. "Rodney is a very long strider who can go up and get the ball. He is tough at the line of scrimmage and has very good hands."

Wallace was Mr. Football for 4A in Tennessee from Giles County. When he was coming out he visited schools like Auburn and Tennessee but ended up signing with Arkansas State. He has a real over-the-top motion, which threw everyone off. Once Wallace got to Jonesboro he got mononucleosis and wanted to leave.

"So he came here," Stephens said. "We have worked on that throwing motion. The kid has a great arm and he has escapability. He's 6-4. Teams like Ole Miss, Southern Miss and UAB are a few looking at him."

Moore is a huge offensive tackle (6-7 and 330 pounds), who signed with Alabama in 2009 from Montgomery Carver before transferring.

"Oh my God he can really run," Stephens said. "He will be out in two semesters and likely end up somewhere in the ACC or Big 12. This kid will play on Sundays."

Bester, who is from Kemper County in Mississippi, is a terrific athlete at 6-3 and 210 pounds.

"This kid can flat-out play," Stephens said. "If he lands somewhere he will have a chance to play on Sundays too. He didn't start for us last season and right now has no scholarship offers."

Former ESPNU 150 receiver, Ambles, recently transferred to East Mississippi from Southern Cal. He's currently enrolled but will likely not play football this fall.

"We are just going to try and help him with academics and get him qualified so he can sign with someone and move on," Stephens said.

Another Mississippi junior college loaded with talent is Gulf Coast Community College in Perkingston, Miss. Former South Carolina signee WR Javon Bell leads the way and is wanted by the Gamecocks, Arkansas, Georgia and Texas Tech.

[+] EnlargeJavon Bell
Courtesy of MGCCC AthleticsJavon Bell is being recruited by South Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia and Texas Tech.

"He's been great," Gulf Coast coach Steve Campbell said. "I mean he has done really well. Javon had a great freshman year on the field and in the classroom. He's slated to graduate in December. The kid has really worked hard.

"While he signed with South Carolina out of high school they didn't place him here. But Steve Spurrier and South Carolina have recruited him hard and so have the others. But Texas Tech has been the hardest on him.

"This kid has great speed and tremendous leaping ability. Javon just has outstanding ball skills. He has great hands and can go get the ball at the highest point."

Fellow prospects at Gulf Coast include Texas A&M commit CB Otis Jacobs, C Dylan Holley, RB James Gillum, DL Darrington Sentimore and QB Raymond Cotton.

Sentimore signed with the Crimson Tide over LSU as part of the 2009 class, but has since left Tuscaloosa for Gulf Coast.

"Many folks don't know he's here," Campbell said. "Texas and Texas A&M are both looking at him pretty hard."

Another former SEC player, Cotton, left Ole Miss for South Alabama and now finds himself as the starting quarterback for Gulf Coast.

"He's our guy," Campbell said. "He's 6-4 and 230 pounds and is a very hard worker. This is a great kid that has a chance to really blow up this fall."

However, Cotton isn't the only signal-caller at a Mississippi junior college who has college coaches clamoring.

Pearl River QB Melvin German, the nephew of former USA Today Player of the Year and Miami Hurricane Jammi German, is one of the most exciting players in the junior college ranks. Last year was a big year for German, who a junior college All-American and lead the nation in passing with over 2,700 yards.

"Melvin is tall (6-3, 190 pounds) and athletic," Pearl River coach Tim Hatten said. "He's got a quick release and is very mobile. He's getting a lot of Division I interest and someone will pull the trigger with him, especially with the success Cam Newton had with Auburn."

Another Pearl River standout is Steve McNair, Jr., who stars on both sides of the ball at receiver and safety. Last season he started in the secondary and still pulled in 56 receptions in the slot.

"Not many guys in this league go both ways," Hatten said. "He signed with Southern Miss and they are still after him as are many others."

Other Pearl River recruits are WR Seth Roberts, WR Ricky Bradley Jr., OL Chandlor Mathews-York, LB Quan Fletcher and LB Chris Bermond.

Washington knows of two visits

The Peach State is loaded with defensive line prospects and one of the best is defensive tackle Jordan Washington (Suwannee, Ga./North Gwinnett). The three-star prospect has a top four and knows of some official visits that he will make this fall.

"Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Kentucky and USF are my top four schools," Washington said. "I know I will officially visit Ole Miss with my coach but I am not sure of the date. I will visit Mississippi State for an official visit on Oct. 15. I camped at Kentucky late in the summer and they offered me. I would like to set up an official visit with them. I went to USF this summer and saw everything. It's possible I can visit them as well."

Washington, 6-3 and 263 pounds, has played defensive end and tackle for his high school team. In fact, he has lost some weight to become a quicker player this season.

"Yeah, I have lost a few pounds," Washington said. "Last season I played at 275 or 280 pounds. Now, I am quicker and I have more stamina. I can play my hardest all game now. It has helped me out a lot."

With the season now if full swing and visits on the horizon Washington knows exactly what he's looking for.

"The main thing is how I feel when I get there," Washington said. "It will be up to the coaches, players and people. I want to pick a place where I really like. I want to feel like I have a home there. Playing is important, how much they want me and how I fit into the program. I want to help the program I choose."

Robinson grabbing attention

When it comes to receivers in the 2013 class, Earnest Robinson (Pinson Valley, Ala./Pinson Valley) is certainly one to watch.

"He's a special one," Pinson Valley coach Matt Glover said. "He's very strong and physical with great hands. He just started playing receiver in the ninth grade. He played quarterback growing up and last year was his first as a starter. He was our scout team receiver and would beat our best defensive backs. And he didn't know how to run routes. We started letting him play and he hasn't missed a beat. The kid has great body control."

College teams in the SEC and ACC have taken notice. Robinson, 6-1 and 205 pounds, has scholarship offers from Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Ole Miss. Florida State is close to offering him as well. This summer he camped at Alabama, Auburn, and Mississippi State.

In his first game of the season Robinson caught five passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns.

Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting both in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at jamienewbergbw@yahoo.com.