SEC find gold mine at MGCCC

jkjones@sunherald.comJune 28, 2014 

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College remains popular with SEC football teams.

Four Bulldog players are ranked in the Sun Herald's Elite 11 of junior college prospects: cornerbacks Justin Evans and Tony Bridges, quarterback Jason Smith and offensive tackle Martinas Rankin.

The preseason list was compiled after conversations with recruiting analysts and college coaches and based on the number of Division I scholarship offers.

"On paper, Gulf Coast may be the most talented team in the state with 16 prospects ranked by Rivals.com," BigGoldnation.com publisher Lanny Mixon said. "Tony Bridges and Jason Smith are both ranked 4-star prospects by Rivals.com."

Three of the four Bulldogs have already made their college choices. Bridges and Smith have both committed to Auburn, while Evans will sign with Texas A&M. Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Kentucky and Missouri are the SEC schools to offer Rankin.

The Bulldogs, who finished ranked eighth in the final NJCAA Top 20 poll, have made a smooth coaching transition from Steve Campbell to Chad Huff.

"Gulf Coast is going to have a ton of kids sign again this year," said Steve Robertson of Scout.com. "Tony Bridges is a superstar in the making. He was the top cover corner in the state out of Hattiesburg High two years ago. Now he's one of the top JUCO cover guys in the country. I really like Martinas Rankin. He is a guy who had SEC talent out of Mendenhall and now he's ready to hit the big stage with a refined skill set. He's a real blue-collar guy."

East Mississippi Community College, the defending MACJC state and NJCAA national champions, has the Sun Herald's top two prospects: defensive tackle D.J. Jones and cornerback Jeryl Brazil.

Jones has offers from every SEC school except Vanderbilt, Florida State and Oklahoma State. Southern Miss, Texas A&M and Tennessee are the only schools to offer Brazil, but scouts love his cover skills and speed.

"East Mississippi is loaded," Robertson said. "D.J. Jones is perhaps the top true defensive tackle in America. It's a good year for JUCO prospects in the state for sure."

Co-Lin will also have a talented squad and should contend for the South Division title. The Wolves have three players on the list and could boast a potent passing attack.

Quarterback Daniel Fitzwater has eight D-I offers: Arkansas State, Georgia State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Texas State, Western Kentucky, Rutgers and Troy. Wide receiver Donald Gray is headed to MSU, while tight end Josh McNeill will sign with Florida State.

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