Ty'ree Evans (33), shown here making a tackle for EMCC, has signed to play for the University of Southern Mississippi.
Ty'ree Evans (33), shown here making a tackle for EMCC, has signed to play for the University of Southern Mississippi.
By Laurence Hilliard

Kemper County Messenger

When football coaches seek junior college players who might be able to step right in and contribute, they know East Mississippi Community College is a great place to look. Following the Lions' fourth NJCAA National Championship in seven years, eighteen EMCC players signed letters of intent with four-year colleges during the early signing period and two others will be preferred walk-ons.

They are:

Cole Bake — 6-3, 275 sophomore defensive lineman from Birmingham, Ala. Signed with Ohio University. Baker had 42 tackles, including four sacks.

Walter Barnes – 6-2, 270 sophomore offensive lineman from Charleston. Signed with Delta State.

Cordell Birge – 6-2, 335 sophomore offensive lineman from Southaven. Signed with Mississippi College.

Aaron Boatright – 6-5, 235 sophomore defensive lineman from Manning, S.C. Signed with Idaho. Boatright had 27 tackles, with five sacks.

Denzel Bonner – 6-2, 205 sophomore defensive back from St. John, Miss. Signed with Indiana State. Bonner had 67 tackles.

Jauan Collins – 6-1, 290 sophomore defensive lineman from Pascagoula. Signed with Jackson State. Collins had nine tackles, including two sacks.

Ti'Morris Conner – 5-9, 170 sophomore quarterback/wide receiver from Macon. Signed with Jackson State. As a backup to quarterback Lindsay Scott Jr., Conner completed 12 of 17 passes for 113 yards.

Justin Connor – 5-10, 205 sophomore running back from Sardis. Signed with Murray State. Connor averaged 5.7 yards per carry with 149 yards and two touchdowns.

Lorenzo Dantzler – 6-2, 240  freshman defensive lineman from Starkville. Signed with Texas-San Antonio. Dantzler had 23 tackles and three sacks.

Ty'Ree Evans – 6-2, 210 sophomore linebacker from Waynesboro. Signed with Southern Miss. Evans had 101 tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery.

Marquise Griffin – 6-3, 325 sophomore defensive lineman from Carthage. Signed with Austin Peay. Griffin had 18 tackles with two sacks.

Quin Jones – 6-1 220 sophomore linebacker from Abbeville. Signed with Stephen F. Austin. Jones had 27 tackles and one interception.

Calvin Keys Jr. — 5-10 190 sophomore wide receiver from Collins. Signed with Jackson State. Keys had  40 receptions for 452 yards and one touchdown.

Ja'Mori Mark – 5-8, 170 sophomore wide receiver/running back from Tylertown. Signed with Mississippi College. Mark caught 15 passes for 154 yards and one TD.

Tyrell Price – 6-0, 220 sophomore running back from Abbeville. Signed with Chattanooga. Price led the Lions in running with 167 carries for 989 yard (5.9 average) and 24 touchdowns.

Duke Upshaw – 6-0, 185  sophomore defensive back from Baldwyn. Signed with Central Arkansas. Upshaw was first-team All American with 39 tackles, eight passes defended and three interceptions.

Ty Williams – 5-11, 175 sophomore defensive back from Charleston. Signed with Southern Miss. Williams had 41 tackles, three interceptions with one returned for a TD, one sack and one fumble recovery.

Raleigh Wood IV – 6-2, 210 sophomore long snapper from Grenada. Signed with Central Arkansas.

The Lions two kicking specialist will be preferred walk-ons with four-year colleges. Taylor Crabtree, a 5-8, 170 sophomore placekicker from Pascagoula, will attend Florida Atlantic. Crabtree was third in the nation in scoring with 97 points, converting 67 of 69 PATs and 10 of 13 field goals.

Grayson Pontius, a 6-2 205 punter and placekicker from Biloxi, will be a preferred walk-on at Tennessee. Pontius averaged 40.5 yards for 18 punts, with six inside the 20.

The Lions were 8-1 during the regular season, with a loss against Northwest, to finished second behind Northwest in the North Division. In the state playoffs, East Mississippi won twice on the road for the state title, defeating South champion Jones 24-20 and Northwest 67-66 in double overtime.

As the nation's top-ranked junior college team, East Mississippi defeated second-ranked Arizona Western 31-28 in the national championship game at the Mississippi Bowl at Mississippi

Gulf Coast Community College in Perkinston.