By Shawn Wansley
JCJC Sports Information Director
ELLISVILLE – Jones County Junior College head football coach Steve Buckley was a happy man Wednesday afternoon.
“This is the most exciting part of my job,” Buckley said while scanning a list of Bobcats that had signed to play senior college football. “This is more important than winning games and championships.
“It’s very special for kids to graduate and have the opportunity to continue to excel academically, as well as athletically. Jones Junior College gives kids a special opportunity to excel. The administration and my staff have done an incredible job of giving the kids the tools to be successful in life.”
As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, 23 Bobcats had signed scholarships on the first day of the early signing period, including three Power 5 signees – running back Scott Phillips (South Jones) to Ole Miss, safety Deontai Williams (Jacksonville, Florida) to Nebraska and wide receiver Harry Ballard (Florissant, Missouri) to Missouri.
“We had three guys sign with Power 5 schools and 12 others went Division I,” Buckley said. “That’s 15 Division I signees and that is really, really good.”
Three Bobcats signed with Alabama-Birmingham, including wide receiver Kendall Parham (Oak Grove) and offensive linemen Andrew Smith (Prentiss) and Colby Ragland (Raymond).
Two inked with the University of South Alabama, including cornerback Travis Reed (Meridian) and defensive tackle Jordan Beaton (Harrison Central).
The Hawthorn twins – quarterback Detric Hawthorn and defensive back Derric Hawthorn (Collins) – signed with Mississippi College, as did defensive back Tyrek Moody (Petal).
Heading to Central Arkansas will be offensive lineman Dylan Desper (Madison Central) and punter Taylor Wallace (Jackson Prep).
Signing with West Alabama were linebacker Jordyn Bowlin (Starkville) and tight end Chancie Tidwell (Clinton).
Center Melvin Hollins (Forest Hill) signed with Jackson State, while defensive back Jalon Scott (Perry Central) signed with Stetson University in DeLand, Florida.
Defensive tackle De’Shondrick Foxworth (East Marion) signed with the University of Buffalo, while defensive end Brandon Young (West Jones) signed with Arkansas-Monticello and defensive lineman Semaj Thomas (Fort Worth, Texas) inked with Southeastern Louisiana.
Offensive lineman Cal Bakker (Vancleave) signed with Southwestern Oklahoma State University, wide receiver Diondre Champaigne (Labson, South Carolina) inked with Georgia State and offensive lineman Nick Vines (Oak Grove) signed with East Tennessee State.
Buckley added that four or five more Bobcats could sign over the next several days.