Meridian Star

January 16, 2014

EMCC lands former UF quarterback

Tony Tsoukalas
The Meridian Star

—     The rich keep getting richer.

    Fresh off a second national championship in three years, East Mississippi Community College head coach Buddy Stephens is back at work putting together another class of highly-touted recruits.

    The Lions recently received a commitment from University of Florida transfer Max Staver who arrived on campus Sunday. The former Rivals three-star recruit is listed at 6-5, 235 pounds and led Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy with 1,937 passing yards and 18 touchdowns his senior season of high school in 2012 before redshirting last season at Florida.

    “I truly think that he’s a guy that is going to be able to come in and flourish right off the bat,” Stephens said. “Hopefully, if good things happen, he’ll be able to go on to wherever he wants to.”

    Stephens said Staver transferred from Florida due to a change in offensive play styles. He said is excited to see what the young quarterback can do when the Lions begin offseason camp this spring.

    “Everything we have heard about him is that he’s a hard worker,” Stephens said. “Watching his film, he’s a heck of a good football player.”

    While Staver will enter camp as the odds-on favorite to win the quarterback job, Stephens said there will be an open competition for the position. Staver will join sophomores Todd Mays (Olive Branch) and Brett Thompson (Lake Cormorant) behind center for the Lions.     

    One trait Stephens will be looking for in any of his potential quarterbacks is the ability to step up as a leader immediately.

    “He’s going to have to win the starting job and be able to run the offense,” Stephens said of his potential quarterback. “In order for him to be our guy, he’s going to have to step up and be a leader right away.”

    Despite EMCC’s depth at the position, Stephens also said he was not done recruiting at quarterback, opting instead to add as many quality prospects as possible.   

    “That’s the greatest thing about us. If you want to play at a big-time school, and if you want to play quarterback, we are the place to go.”

    If Staver does win the starting job, he will follow former National Junior College Athletic Association All-Americans Dontreal Pruitt (currently at Troy), Quez Johnson (Florida Atlantic), Brad Henderson (Northwestern State) and Randall Mackey (Ole Miss) at the position.

    Staver should bring a different skill set to the Lions than what they had last season, offering perhaps more of a pocket presence while not possessing the same escapability of Pruitt. Still, Stephens said he was impressed with the 6-5 quarterback’s mobility.

    “He is going to be similar to Bo (Wallace),” Stephens said. “He’ll be similar to Jaquez (Johnson), similar to Brad Henderson. He’s a guy that is going to be able to move around well. Our offense is our offense, it is adaptable to whoever we have at quarterback. That’s the great thing about it. We want to make sure he or whoever at quarterback is comfortable and able to run the offense.”

    Staver will have two years of eligibility at EMCC and four years at the college level.