While a majority of the student body at Northeast Mississippi Community College is enjoying one last week free of classes, the football team is back in town and getting back to work.
The Tigers officially reported for the start of fall camp on Monday, August 7. They also completed their inaugural practice of the new season at 3 p.m. that afternoon.
“Everybody’s ready to go and everybody’s excited,” said Northeast head coach Greg Davis. “We’ve gotta get these kids ready to play. The one thing that we look forward to every year is seeing these new, fresh faces.”
That could not be truer this season as the Tigers welcome over 40 newcomers to the City in Hospitality. It is a highly talented group of rookies, but their lack of experience at the collegiate level means that each practice is of the utmost importance.
“We’ve got so many young faces on offense and defense,” Davis said, “that we’ve gotta be able to get out there, get lined up and make everybody understand what we want to accomplish. The young kids will find out quickly what it’s about.”
Beau Lee is one of the many skilled freshmen that are swiftly adjusting to life at Northeast. He combined for 69 receptions, over 1,700 yards and 23 touchdowns during his junior and senior campaigns at Kossuth High School.
Lee and his fellow wideouts have a chance to make an immediate impact after four of the Tigers’ top five receivers from the 2016 campaign in terms of catches departed due to graduation.
“Things are going well,” said Lee. “We have a bunch of receivers coming in. We’re all catching on really quick by studying our playbook. Everybody has to do the best they can do. It’s going to be a special year for sure.”
With so many freshmen suiting up during training camp and with several of those expected to make the final 55-man roster, sophomore leadership will be a key factor if Northeast wants to be as successful as it was one year ago.
Peyton McMahon fits into that role quite nicely on the defensive side of the pigskin. He is the Tigers’ top returning tackler with 38 stops last season from the linebacker position, including 3.5 tackles for loss.
The DeSoto Central High School graduate was the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) Player of the Week after accounting for two of his team-best five takeaways in a win at Southwest Mississippi Community College.
“I’m just happy because it’s that time again,” McMahon said. “We’ve got a little bit of rust to knock off, but we’re gonna get it down and we’ll be all right. It’s time to start hitting people.”
Northeast hit the practice field adjacent to Tiger Stadium for the first time on Monday with helmets only. The Tigers will work their way into full pads as they simulate the rapid pace of a game in the MACJC on a daily basis.
“The number one goal is alignment, assignment and execution,” said Davis. “We practice fast and full speed every day so it’s always like a game for us when we’re out there on the field.”
Northeast is already gaining recognition after receiving a No. 18 national ranking in the College Football America Yearbook junior college preseason top 30 poll, which included programs in both the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
The Tigers open the 2017 campaign on Thursday, August 31 at Pearl River Community College with kickoff at 6 p.m. from Dobie Holden Stadium. Northeast’s first home contest is one week later on September 7 versus East Central Community College.
CUTLINE (PHOTO: Michael H. Miller/Northeast Public Information)
NEFB_2017Practice1_Lee: Northeast Mississippi Community College freshman wide receiver Beau Lee falls to the ground after making a catch during the first day of football’s fall training camp on Monday, August 7 on the Booneville campus.