When it comes time for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Aretavious Hendrix to sign in December, he won’t be swayed by merely the biggest suitor — he’s all about finding the right connection.
Heading into Saturday’s 2 p.m. kickoff at rival Pearl River Community College, the former Starkville Yellowjacket has offers from Southern Miss and Jackson State, with other region programs also showing interest.
“I’m looking for a home and someone to make me feel like I’m right there,” the 6-foot, 180-pound defensive back said. “Somebody who, as soon as I come in they make me feel like I’m their own.
“I want to go somewhere where I can build a relationship with the coaches and then let it play out from there.”
Southern Miss has certainly shown Hendrix plenty of love on the recruiting trail.
Hendrix said he likes a potential fit at USM for a number of reasons.
“I like the black and gold they wear — it reminds me of high school,” he said. “I went to a couple of games and seen the way they compete against teams like Kentucky. I just like their motor. I can see myself being there.”
Of the 20 defensive backs on USM’s current roster, nine are listed as either redshirt seniors or true seniors. With so many players at his position leaving Hattiesburg, Hendrix feels confident he can step in right away should he sign with the Golden Eagles.
“That’s very intriguing. I know my skills,” Hendrix said. “I know I can step in right away and make it seem like the (graduated seniors) weren’t even missing.”
As a freshman last year, Hendrix made 11 tackles with one sack and one interception. This year, Hendrix is second on the Bulldogs with five pass breakups to go along with 14 tackles.
Former Gautier star Deandre Torrey is currently second in the country with 1,015 yards rushing on the year. According to NJCAA.org, the former Gator is 58 yards behind Mekhi Sargent of Iowa Western. The closest a MGCCC has come to leading the NJCAA in rushing was in 2009 when Vick Ballard racked up 1,728 yards (and 22 touchdowns) on 297 carries.
Former Stone running back Terrion Avery isn’t far behind his teammate with 643 yards rushing, good for 15th nationally.
“Torrey and Avery and the offensive line have been able to do some things with our running game,” MGCCC coach Chad Huff said in a release. “We continue to build on that, and build the passing game with Larry Sisson taking advantage of what the defense will give us.”
Saturday’s game between MGCCC (5-2, 3-1) and PRCC (3-4, 2-2) should be of interest to plenty of folks across South Mississippi. Huff’s family, specifically, has deep, deep roots in the rivalry.
“I’m from the Coast,” Huff said. “My dad has played in this game in this game multiple times, my brother has played in this game multiple times, I’ve coached in it multiple times. There’s no love lost. You’ve got people playing for a lot of pride.”
PRCC leads the all-time series against MGCCC 53-40-1, but the Bulldogs have won each of the last 11 meetings going back to 2007.
Who: Gulf Coast at Pearl River
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Radio: 103.1 FM