In each of the past three seasons, Northwest Mississippi Community College has been either the MACJC North Division runner-up or champion. With the 2009 season now nearly underway, the Northwest program once again looks poised for a successful season if the talent on hand is any indication.
Numerous major college prospects sprinkle both sides of the ball for the Rangers in the class of 2010 as they look to continue their strong tradition of sending prospects into four-year institutions.
On the defensive side of the ball, Northwest is led by one of the top cornerback prospects in the Mississippi Junior College ranks, Aubrey Shelton. Shelton, a 5-foot-10, 175-pounder played significantly on offense in 2008 but will be making the move to full-time defense in 2009 as he prepares for his future at cornerback.
"He's probably one of the best three cornerbacks in the league," said Northwest defensive coordinator Blake Frazier. "He's a speed guy. In one game last year he had 100-something yards on only five carries. We moved him to cornerback because that will be his position from now on. He'll have everybody after him."
A projected December graduate, Shelton should be a full qualifier academically, making him that much more alluring to college coaches.
Joining Shelton in the defensive backfield is safety Vincent Street, a hard-hitting strong safety prospect with a lot of physicality. The 6-foot- 200-pounder is a presence in the run game and a sure tackler. Helping Street in the run game, Northwest has West Almond anchoring its linebacking corps.
A familiar name is holding down the trenches on the defensive side of the ball, only he may be familiar as an offensive prospect. Chris Little, a four-star Georgia signee out of the class of 2007, committed to the Bulldogs as an offensive guard. However, since transferring to Northwest Mississippi, Little has moved over to be a disruptive force at nose guard on defense.
At 6-foot-6, 355 pounds, Little is tough to handle and tough to miss on defense. The move made sense to the Northwest coaching staff.
"We like him as a nose guard," said Coach Frazier. "With his wing span, he can knock down any ball he wants to."
Offensively, the Rangers also feature a prospect that college football fans may remember. JoJo Cox signed with Clemson as a running back out of the class of 2006. After failing to meet qualifications the stocky back attended Fork Union Military Academy where he signed with Marshall out of the class of 2007. Now a class of 2010 prospect out of Northwest Mississippi, Cox is a perfect fit for the spread offense that the Rangers employ.
"He's a speed back," Frazier said of Cox. "He can really go. He's a spread back that can do a lot of things for us."
Another prospect that has speed to burn is wide receiver Marquis Green. The diminutive wideout is nothing if not a big play threat due to his track background and explosiveness with the ball in his hands.
"He won the 100 meters in the state of Mississippi," Frazier said of Green. "He's a 4.4 guy. He ran a 10.51 when he ran the 100. He can absolutely roll. There's no doubt he's about the fastest kid in the league."
The player responsible with getting the ball in the hands of Green as well as Memphis wide receiver commit and transfer from Pittsburgh (Calif.) Los Medanos C.C. Michael Lindsey is quarterback Casey Weston.
Weston was a wildly productive passer spearheading the explosive offense at Prattville, Ala. as a high school senior. Under center, he led Prattville to an undefeated season and a state championship in 2008. Now at Northwest Mississippi, Weston's arm has once again been impressive.
"He's done really well," Frazier said. "He's got the best arm in the league, there's no doubt. We're a spread offense and we let him throw it around."
As a talented high school senior in 2008, somehow Weston slipped through the cracks the first time around. However, this year he likely won't go unnoticed. His talented teammates hope to follow suit.