Hinds Community College kicks off its football season on the road Thursday in Perkinston, Mississippi, against the reigning national champions, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Bulldogs. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
This is the second consecutive year that Hinds will open its season against the reigning national champions. Last year, the Eagles defeated the No. 1 ranked East Mississippi Community College Lions 24-16.
The 2020 Hinds football program will look to build on its successful 2019 campaign where the Eagles competed in the Graphic Edge Bowl and finished ranking No. 8 in the National Junior College Athletic Association with a 7-3 overall record.
The Eagle’s offense returns just eight players from last season’s team. “This is a very young, but talented group of guys. We face a tough schedule to start the season, so it should be a good opportunity to introduce them to what Mississippi community college football is all about,” said offensive coordinator Kelly Murphy in a statement.
The offense will be led by freshman dual-threat quarterbacks BeSean McCray, from Orlando, Florida, backed up by freshman Kobe Dillon, from Ferriday, Louisiana. McCray is a transfer from the University of Central Arkansas.
At running back, the Eagles return sophomore Robert Jackson III, from Lexington, Mississippi, who will split carries with freshman Dajon Richard from Patterson, Louisiana. Richard is a transfer from the University of South Alabama.
At wide receiver, the Eagles return the dynamic talent of sophomores Jakarius Caston of Natchez, Mississippi, and Tabashi Thomas of Douglasville, Georgia. Caston will look to build upon his successful freshman campaign where he tallied 208 receiving yards and hauled in two touchdowns. Thomas will also look to build upon his freshman season where he hauled in a team-leading four touchdowns and tallied 409 receiving yards. Caston and Thomas will be accompanied at wide receiver by freshmen Deontez White of Camden, Mississippi, and Jaiden Burns of Canton, Mississippi. Other receivers vying for time include freshmen Cade Shepherd of Flora, Mississippi, Jeffery Malone of Macon, Mississippi, Niselbyion Kirk of Louisville, Mississippi, and Corey Wilson Jr. of Vicksburg.
Freshman Malik Banks of Yazoo City, Mississippi, and Sophomore Marquis Tenner of Flowood, Mississippi, will serve in the role of tight end/H-back for the Eagles in 2020.
The offensive line will be anchored by sophomores Ethan Boyd of Crystal Springs, Mississippi, and Jeremiah Brown of Canton. Freshmen Jonquez Roby of West Point, Mississippi, Chris Winston of Vicksburg and Bryce Parkerson of Philadelphia, Mississippi, will look to fill the remainder of the starting line. Sophomores Antwuan Lampton of Lumberton, Mississippi, and Drake Diedrick of Florence, Mississippi, along with freshmen Joshua Johnson of Clarksdale, Mississippi, Braidron Hodo of Greenwood, Mississippi, and Justin Bryant of Pearl, Mississippi, will provide depth on the offensive line.
The Eagle’s defense also returns just eight players who were on the team last season. “We return a few leaders from our defense last season, but there will be a lot of new faces on the field for us this season. We look forward to being fast, physical and aggressive,” said defensive coordinator Kevie Thompson.
The defensive line will be led by sophomores Jaylen Heffner of Batesville, Mississippi, Jaylon Ned of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Stefon Smith of Indianola, Mississippi. The trio combined to collect 69 tackles and 8 ½ sacks in 2019. Freshman Jaylen Ware of Starkville, Mississippi, rounds out the projected starting defensive line. Sophomores JaQuez Jackson of Monroe, Louisiana, and Vertez Shorter of Vicksburg, along with freshmen Reginald Barnes of Pascagoula, Mississippi, and Justin Lee of Columbia, Mississippi will provide depth to Eagle’s defensive line in 2020.
The linebacker corps will be led by sophomore Ryan Davis of Clinton, Mississippi, and freshman Malik Sims. As a freshman last season, Davis collected 15 tackles including one sack. Also vying for time at linebacker for the Eagles will be sophomore Albert Day of Camden, Mississippi and freshman Thaddeus Bishop of Jackson, Mississippi.
The Eagles secondary will feature just one returner in sophomore Artavious Washington of Lexington. Washington returns following a stellar freshman campaign where he recorded 17 tackles and one interception. The other projected starters in the secondary include freshmen Khiry Gee of Starkville, Ta’Darrius Williams of Hollandale, Mississippi, Jaylen Knight of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and Sharman Holmes of Madison, Mississippi. Depth will be provided in the secondary by freshmen Kaleb Mosley of Louisville, Mississippi, Emahd Dabney of Jackson, Anthony Bullock of Columbia, Erick Short of Jackson, and Austin Day of Philadelphia.
Two talented sophomores Connor Smith of Vicksburg, and Houston Smith of Flowood, will handle kicking duties for the Eagles in 2020. Connor Smith will serve as the kicker following his freshman campaign where he was perfect both on field goals and extra points in 2019. Houston Smith will serve as the punter following his breakout freshman season where he averaged 39.2 yards per punt and tallied 1,801 total punting yards.
Cade Shepherd will serve as the holder and freshman Earnest Wade of Lexington, Mississippi, will serve as the long snapper.
The kickoff and punt returners for the Eagles will be Jakarius Caston and Dajon Richard. Caston looks to build on his 2019 season where he averaged 29.9 yards per kick return.
Fans will be able to watch all of Hinds football games live at https://hindsccsports.net/channel-1/