Competition and hunger defines 2012 MGCCC Bulldogs
It may seem like a stretch to say that just about every starting position on the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College football team is up for grabs.
MGCCC head coach Steve Campbell (right) looks on as quarterback Clint Hatten throws a pass at practice Aug. 8.
However that statement is not far from the truth as the perennial MACJC South Division powerhouse goes into 2012 with a bumper crop of talented but young players.
“We’re replacing four NJCAA All-Americans along with most of our starters,” said Gulf Coast head coach Steve Campbell, who’s embarking on his ninth season at the helm. “We’re very talented, but very young. Competition for playing time and positions is only going to make these guys better.”
Campbell and his coaching staff have racked up a 70-18 record since 2004 along with an NJCAA Co-National Championship (2007), three MACJC titles (2007, 2008, 2010), five MACJC South Division titles (2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011), and five straight trips to the MACJC Championship Game.
In 2012 the Bulldogs take the field with more than 40 freshmen to go with 13 sophomores, which puts a huge emphasis on individual position battles during fall practice.
Sophomore Clint Hatten (55/113, 737 yards, 5TD, 5 INT) picked up valuable experience in 2011 and looks to be the starter when Gulf Coast travels to Coahoma Aug. 30 for the 2012 season opener. Hatten, a Stone County native, was 5-1 as a starter last season. Jeremy Liggin, a 6-4, 260 pound quarterback from Lafayette, MS, was supposed to complement Hatten but instead left the team a day before fall practice began.
“He’s a good kid and tremendous player,” Campbell said. “We wish him luck.” Currently Quentin Wheeler, a 6-1, 190 pound freshman from Ouachita High School in Monroe, LA, is the team's back up quarterback.
Sophomores Byron Nettles (44 carries, 294) yards and Anton Thornton should get plenty of carries in 2012 with newcomers Eli Hughes (5-9, 170, Elizabeth, NJ), AntwonWells (5-11, 190, East Central), and Detrick Goff (6-2, 220 Hancock) in the mix for action. Jay Yates (601, 222, Vancleave) will serve as the team’s fullback along with tight ends Cade Amacker and Marlon Pope. The Bulldogs redshirted Jacob Carmouche and Reggie Matthews for 2012.
The Bulldogs have very little experience but lots of talent at wide receiver beginning with freshman D'haquille Williams (6-3, 205), who averaged 27.0 yards on 44 receptions for 1,186 yards and 20 touchdowns in 11 games as a senior at East St. John High School. Williams also rushed 40 times for 307 yards and five touchdowns. Tyrone Williams (6-2, 180, Hancock) is another freshman to watch along with sophomores Deadrian Terry, Greyson Chambless, Donovan Smith, and Justin Brister.
Sophomore Cade Amacker (1 TD catch in 2011) and freshman Marlon Pope (6-4, 250, Hattiesburg) will serve as tight ends with both players also manning the fullback position in certain situations.
A mix of sophomores and freshmen highlight this group as Ramsey Sellers (6-0, 310, Stone County) and Laurence Ramsey (6-0, 315, Gulfport) serving as the anchors. Freshmen Craig Frigo (6-4, 330, St. Stanislaus) and Cordarryl Gaines (6-6, 350, Jackson) are expected to contribute immediately along with sophomore Ben Wiles (6-3, 330, Long Beach), Jared Ray (6-2,300, Long Beach), and freshmen Zac Wells (6-5, 340, West Harrison), Nick Proby (5-8, 260, D’Iberville), Jonathan Stuebe (6-4, 325, West Harrison), and Kenneth Jacobs (6-5, 330, Biloxi).
Some experience returns with this unit in the form of Cortez Hartzog (6-5, 295, Gulfport) and Warren Conway (6-2, 250, Gulfport), who had two sacks and a fumble recovery in 2011. Former linebacker Travis Taylor moves to the defensive line while newcomers Sherman Boyd (6-4, 340, Forest) and converted offensive lineman Dalton Davis (6-2, 295, East Central) poised to split time at the nose guard spot. Freshmen Dechey Williams (6-3, 230, West Jones) and David Howell (6-2, 240) are also slated to help bolster the Bulldog defensive front.
The core of the defense rests with sophomore Brandon Keel (6-3, 240, Gulfport), who had 63 tackles in 2011 to go along with a sack and two interceptions. Wells is complemented by fellow sophomore Dawson Wells (6-0, 220, Ocean Springs), who had 43 tackles and two sacks last season. Freshmen Cavellis Luckett (6-1, 220, McComb) and Josh Rushing (6-1, 220, Long Beach) will also get significant work at the linebacker spot in 2012.
A group of nine talented freshmen will be jockeying for positions and playing time as cornerbacks and safeties in 2012, including Kennar Johnson (6-2, 290, East Ridge, FL), Josh Keys (6-1, 175, Seminary), Fenest Armstrong (6-0, 180, Laurel), Nigel Green (6-1, 170, Northwest Rankin), Tomoyuki Wafford (5-11, 185, Marietta, GA), Derrick Moncrief (6-4, 200, Prattville, AL), Darius Jones (6-0, 175, Stone County), Zavian Bingham (5-11, 180, Terry), and Zarrat Sims (6-1, 170, Hamilton).
Freshman kicker Stephen Brauchle (6-1, 200, Gulfport) comes to Gulf Coast three seasons after cousin Sean Brauchle (2007-08) set several Bulldog kicking records. Zach Pinkerton (5-11, 200, Cleveland), is penciled in as the team’s punter, and Tucker Smith (6-2, 220, Gulfport) will serve as the long snapper on punts and field goals.
As for the first day of practice, Campbell was concerned about the team’s mental mistakes but was encouraged by the effort he saw from everyone.
“It’s a typical first day,” he said. “The key for us will be eliminating the mistakes with each day that passes. I am pleased with the effort. I saw a lot of people making plays out there.”
Gulf Coast opens the 2012 season Aug. 30 at Coahoma.
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