Just call them the East Mississippi Community College All-Stars.
Of the 32 signees the Lions announced Thursday, 23 played in either the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star game or the Bernard Blackwell North-South All-Star Classic. That talented class has EMCC coach Buddy Stephens excited about the future of his program, one that has won the MACJC North Division four times in five years along with two state championships and the NJCAA national championship in 2011.
“I thought we had a really balanced class,” Stephens said. “We had a slew of All-Stars sprinkled in there and then even the kids that weren't All-Stars, they are still stars in the making.”
Leading that All-Star contingent was Eupora wide receiver Derrick Jones, a double signee with the Lions and Ole Miss. Jones, a 6-foot-2, 180-pounder that caught 44 passes for 975 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, played in the Mississippi-Alabama game alongside offensive line signees Chris Berry (Quitman), David Mahaffey, Jacob Freely, Joseph Reynolds; defensive line signees Jamol Posey, Jawon Johnson, Quez Scott (Meridian); wide receiver Kameron Myers, who rushed for 1,358 yards and hauled in an additional 605 with 27 total touchdowns, and kicker/punter Reece Everett. North-South All-Stars include wide receiver Tilmus Bradford, linebacker William Lloyd and his 139 tackles, wide receiver Stanley Higgins, linebacker Mario Virges, linebacker Justin Lucas, defensive lineman Deshawn Tillman, defensive back Deshadrick Truly, linebacker Demetrius Cain, wide receiver Dario Robinson, who double signed with Southeast Louisiana after hauling in 52 passes for 801 yards and five touchdowns while also rushing for 1,021 yards and 10 scores one season after snagging 143 catches for 2,191 yards and 21 touchdowns, wide receiver Brandon Acker, who had 40 catches for 690 yards, offensive lineman Brandon Hodges, quarterback Brett Thompson and linebacker Benny McCall.
“We've got a lot of balance and we answered a lot of our needs in this class,” Stephens said. “It's an extremely good group of young men. That's what I'm most proud of our class about, is their potential not only as athletes but their potential as young men.”
In locking down the long list of All-Star talent, EMCC hauled in recruits from the entire state thanks to the elimination of recruiting districts in the fall of 2011. Still, Stephens said the Lions' first priority is still to locate the best players close to home and this year's class did include a pair of MHS standouts in Scott and wide receiver Issac Johnson, who had 430 yards and five touchdowns on 39 catches, as well as three Starkville standouts, and one player from West Point and Columbus.
“Every year, we start locally,” he said. “He want to look for local talent first. But with the state open for recruiting now, you may not be able to look as long.
“The recruiting is changing but we will always start locally in our six-county district first and we always want to take kids that want to be in our program.”
East Mississippi CC signing list
Brandon Acker, WR, Hattiesburg HS
Arie Anderson, DL, Stanhope Elmore HS/Millbrook, AL
Preston Baker, RB, Starkville HS
Chris Berry, OL, Quitman HS
Tilmus Bradford, WR, Charleston HS
Demetrius Cain, LB, Hazlehurst HS
Cooper Esslinger, LS, Picayune Memorial HS
Reece Everett, K/P, Clinton HS
Jacob Feeley, OL, Picayune Memorial HS
Jessie Gill, DB, Union HS
Stanley Higgins, WR, Starkville HS
Brandon Hodges, OL, Aberdeen HS
Isaac Johnson, WR, Meridian HS
Jawon Johnson, DL, Starkville HS
Derrick Jones, WR, Eupora HS (double-signed with Ole Miss)
Quan Latham, DB, Columbus HS
William Lloyd, LB, West Bolivar HS
Justin Lucas, LB, Aberdeen HS
David Mahaffey, OL, Brandon HS
Benny McCall, LB, Lake Cormorant HS
Kameron Myers, WR, Charleston HS
Jamol Posey, DL, Hattiesburg HS
Wesley Ragin, DL, Saltillo HS
Joey Reynolds, OL, Picayune Memorial HS
Dario Robinson, WR, Amory HS (double-signed with Southeastern Louisiana)
Rod Sanders, LB, Leake Central HS
JaQarius "Quez" Scott, DL, Meridian HS
Brett Thompson, QB, Lake Cormorant HS
Deshawn Tillman, DL, Bruce HS
Deshadrick Truly, DB, Charleston HS
Mario Virges, LB, West Point HS
Justin Washington, DB, Byhalia HS