It’s been an adjustment for most everyone involved when it comes to the Jones County Junior College offensive line.
First, Chuck Robertson is the new Bobcat offensive line coach. He replaces Ron Brewer, who left over the summer to take a similar position at Gulfport High School.
Next, the Bobcats only have two returning starters from last season and will have several newcomers to start, as well as being backups.
“The speed of the athletes is a lot quicker at this level,” said Robertson, who was at West Jones High School last year. “But, I’m adjusting pretty well. My younger kids are having to adjust, but the time we had with them in the summer helped tremendously. They came into camp in a lot better shape and they are ahead of the game.
“I was really pleased with the way the experienced guys came back into camp. Last year really helped them because I think it made them work a little harder over the summertime. Experience makes a lot of things better.”
Returning starters will be right tackle Jalen Beavers and left guard Levell Hartfield.
Beavers (6-3, 330) was a second-team All-MACJC South Division performer as a freshman out of Stringer. Hartfield (6-0, 280) is a third-year sophomore from Moss Point. Hartfield was moved to center initially in the offseason, but has now gone back to his natural position at guard.
“Jalen has tremendous upside,” Robertson said. “He has a great body and great feet. He came in to camp in much better shape and just has a little bit to go to get into game shape. Levell is a three-year guy, which helps tremendously. There is not much for those two to learn as far as learning the plays. It’s just a matter of getting their technique down and refining some things.
“You know, it’s hard when you realize you only have two years with these guys. Once you get used to them, you have to bring new kids in to the program. In high school, you may coach a kid from the 7th-grade on up.”
A newcomer to offense this fall is James Anthony (6-4, 275) out of Wilkinson County. Anthony played in the defensive line as a freshman and has made the shift to left offensive tackle.
At center, the Bobcats are going with Travis Brogle (6-2, 280) out of Bay High.
“Travis is getting the majority of snaps at center and has a tremendous work ethic,” Robertson said. “He is just a hardnosed football player. He does not have tremendous size, but has great hands and has a little grit about him. He competes very well. He has taken hold of the center spot and that helps me out because I get to move Levell back to guard. That’s a double-plus for us.”
It’s a battle for the starting right guard slot between Petal sophomore Jaryd Whitman (6-2, 305) and Gautier freshman Tyrone Patterson (6-2, 290).
Backing up Hartfield is Dallas Carter (6-3, 290), a freshman from North Forrest.
“He is having to adjust because they ran the option in high school and we do more ‘inside zone’ and pass the ball more than they did. But he has a great work ethic,” Robertson said.
Behind Beavers will be Aaron Bourgeois (6-3, 330) out of Bay High.
Spencer Stovall (6-0, 295) out of Ridgeland is working behind Brogle at center. Stovall played at Southwest Mississippi Community College two years ago.
Behind Anthony at left tackle will be Chandler Rhymes (6-5, 335), a freshman out of George County.
Even though Robertson is new and the majority of the offensive linemen are new to their roles, he is quite pleased with where his troops have progressed up to this point.
“I have zero complaints with them and the way they work,” Robertson said. “We ask them to be on time and have a good attitude and they have responded really well. We still have a long way to go, but everybody does at this point in camp.”
The Bobcats of head coach Ray Perkins will open the 2013 season at 7 p.m. on Aug. 29 at Holmes Community College. The game will be audiocast on www.jcjc.tv with Mark Easley and Ed Smith on the call.