Sixteen Lions Sign to Play on Next Level


The Lions of East Mississippi Community College had 16 players from their 2021 football team sign national letters of intent with four-year universities during the NCAA’s early signing period.

With 10 players on offense and six on defense moving on to the next level, EMCC sent five wide receivers to the university ranks this past week. The Lions also had two players each from the quarterback, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker and defensive back positions sign NLIs along with a running back.

Four former EMCC standouts signed with NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools, including NJCAA All-Region 23 linebacker and Syracuse bounce-back Lee Kpogba, who is headed to West Virginia University of the Big 12 Conference. Kpogba, out of Winston-Salem, N.C., is currently ranked among the consensus top 10 overall junior college prospects in the country. UAB, from Conference USA, added the EMCC tandem of quarterback Damon Stewart (Oak Grove HS) and running back Zias Perryman (Laurel). Defensive back Cam McCullum (Greenville) is joining Ohio University of the Mid-American Conference.

A total of 10 former EMCC Lions will be joining NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) schools, including six players headed to the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). Headlined by the signing of quarterback Jamari Jones, Mississippi Valley State inked four former EMCC players during the early signing period. Jones, out of Northwest Rankin High School, is rated as the nation’s No. 2 dual-threat quarterback among the junior college ranks by JCGridiron. The wide receiver trio comprised of Starkville High School products Tonorris Brookins II and Cameron Hines along with Myles Hopson (Madison Central HS) also inked with the MVSU Delta Devils.

In addition, fellow former Starkville High/EMCC teammates Kel Williams, a defensive back, and Jordan Boatman, an offensive lineman, signed at the NCAA Division II level with the University of West Alabama and Mississippi College, respectively, of the Gulf South Conference.

Along with Valley’s EMCC quartet, the SWAC will also welcome defensive lineman Trey Laing, a bounce-back from the University of South Florida, and offensive lineman Octavian Hollins (Yazoo County HS), who are respectively heading to Southern University and Alcorn State.

Also moving on to play at the FCS level will be former EMCC wide receiver Kevin Barnett (Indiana State/Missouri Valley Football Conference), out of Oak Grove High School, and defensive lineman Tait Deer (UT Martin/Ohio Valley Conference), from McComb. Also from head coach Buddy Stephens’ 9-1 and MACCC North Division championship team this past year, West Point’s Brandon Lairy, a linebacker, and Corinth’s Zach Patterson, a wide receiver/kick returner, will compete against each other next season in the Southland Conference at Nicholls State and Northwestern State (La.), respectively.




Above: Jamari Jones (9) looks to pass from the pocket for EMCC. Jones is heading to Jackson State University. Left: Zach Patterson celebrates scoring a touchdown for the Lions during the 2021 football season. Patterson signed a letter of intent during the early signing period to play at UAB.


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