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NEMC Gets Thirty-Four New Tigers Ink On National Signing Day

Unknown-2Ricky Smither bolstered his Northeast Mississippi Community College football team both on and off the field of competition with a tremendous class of young men that will take the field at Tiger Stadium this fall.
Smither, who enters his seventh season as headman of the Tigers, inked 34 young men from across the South during the 2014 National Signing Day on Wednesday, February 5.
“We’re really, really ecstatic about the guys we have that are signed,” Smither said. “I’m just really proud of the effort our staff has put out. Those guys have done a tremendous job. We wanted to improve the integrity of the program so we got out and recruited some guys that are competing in the classroom as well.”
Twenty-two high schools, 11 Mississippi counties and two other states were represented in this year’s signing class overall.
Darrion Abston starred at defensive end for Olive Branch High School and as a senior tallied 30 tackles. The 6-2, 250-pound lineman also had 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks under coach Scott Samsel.
Anthony Amos was part of a strong receiving core for former Northeast assistant Brad Boyette at Horn Lake High School. The 6-5 wide out caught 25 passes for 324 yards, the second-highest numbers for the Eagles, with an average of 13 yards per catch in 2013.
Donta Armstrong provided a dual-threat ability as starting quarterback for the Bruce Trojans. He accounted for 1,749 yards, 1,065 passing and 684 rushing, with 21 touchdowns. The Pittsboro native also totaled 47 tackles, fourth-most on the team, for coach James Ray.
Andrew Ashe served as a specialist at Pontotoc High School under the direction of headman Scott Brown. Ashe helped the Warriors’ special teams succeed in 17 of 19 point-after-attempts and 3 of 5 field goal opportunities.
Tadarous Clinton aided Rosa Fort High School and coach Edwin Norwood in one of its most successful campaigns in recent memory. Clinton notched 84 tackles, 52 of them solo, with four sacks. The 5-11 cornerback can also pack a punch and forced three fumbles as a senior while recovering two.
Warren DeWalt was the top statistical wide receiver for perennial Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 6A power Olive Branch one year ago. He grabbed 36 passes for 601 yards, an average of 16.7 per catch, with eight touchdowns.
Cory Dixon was named the Region 1, Class AAAAAA Player of the Year by the Georgia High School Association (GHSA). Dixon compiled a list of incredible numbers that included 1,450 yards passing and 1,117 yards rushing for Brunswick (Ga.) High School in his senior season and is ranked a three-star recruit by 247Sports.
Peyton Finch is a multi-purpose athlete out of North Pontotoc High School. For coach Brian Sutton, Finch totaled seven tackles for loss, three sacks and two interceptions. At 6-2, 220 pounds, the Saltillo native can also play tight end. Finch earned his way onto the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC) Class 3A All-State second-team at the end of his senior campaign.
Brannon Gamble put together a wonderful final campaign with the Tishomingo County Braves and coach Lanny Jones. The Iuka product averaged a whooping 21.7 yards per catch and totaled 758 yards and seven touchdowns. He also added 31 tackles as a two-way player.
Mike Harris anchored the defensive line for the Conquistadors of Olive Branch. Harris consistently got into his adversaries’ backfield and had a team-best 5.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss to go with 57 takedowns overall.
Hank Hudson remains a Tiger for the next two years after playing his prep ball at Hernando High School. Under the command of coach Anthony Jenkins, Hudson and the Tigers went 3-8 during their initial year at the MHSAA Class 6A level.
Rakeem Hunt made the Greenwood Commonwealth’s All-Area team in 2013 with 57 tackles, five interceptions and five touchdowns. Hunt hails from Amanda Elzy High School in Greenwood.
Desmen Johnson was part of a stout offensive line at Itawamba Agricultural High School. Johnson was part of a group of five men that created holes for Indian running backs that gained nearly 1,800 yards last season. Coach Toby Collums led Itawamba and Johnson to the state playoffs as the MHSAA Division 1, Class 4A runner-up.
Brandon Jones caught the eyes of the state when he was named to the MAC All-State team as a junior at Bay Springs High School. After playing for headman Tripp Sumrall, Jones could play multiple roles at Northeast.
Justin Jordan becomes one of the first football players from Germantown High School in Madison to become Tigers. Jordan dished out 49 tackles, 4.5 sacks and nine quarterback hurries in 2013 as a defensive lineman under the tutelage of coach Tim Shramek.
Malcolm Joseph rose to prominence at Valdosta (Ga.) High School, where he was named first-team All-Region 1, Class AAAAAA after his senior campaign. The speedster tallied a combined 1,817 yards and 24 touchdowns rushing in his final two years for coach Rance Gillespie. Joseph also accounted for 300 more yards and a pair of scores at receiver during that time frame.
Chester Lewis is the other Germantown athlete to ink with Northeast. The workhorse of the Maverick offense touched the football 172 times, 89 more touches than the next closest back, and rolled up 1,102 yards in 2013. Lewis crossed into the end zone 15 times, more than any of his Maverick teammates, while on his way to earning first-team All-State honors by the MAC in MHSAA Class 5A.
Terrance Lindsey was part of Olive Branch’s vaulted defensive line with Abston and Harris. The 6-1, 280-pound Conquistador accounted for 44 tackles, 3.5 of them for loss, and 12 quarterback hurries during his senior year.
Gabriel Lloyd and the South Panola High School defense held their adversaries to just 13 points per game. Lloyd was one of the top cornerbacks in the state and accounted for 26 pass break ups in 2013. The Pope native also had 22 tackles and one fumble recovery.
Zane Lott will remain in his hometown after playing his prep ball at Tiger Stadium for coach Mike Mattox and the Booneville Blue Devils. In a predominantly run-heavy offense, Lott caught 11 passes for 121 yards, an average of 11 yards each reception, with one touchdown. He also added 31 tackles, two sacks, one interception and one fumble recovery for the MHSAA Division 1, Class 3A runner-up Blue Devils.
LaDerrick Martin travels to Northeast from the gulf coast after seeing action for headman Sean Harden at West Harrison High School. Martin totaled 55 tackles for the Hurricanes at safety and also saw a smaller role on offense with an average of 7.4 yards per carry and one score.
Chris Matthews increased his presence in the backfield at Olive Branch as a senior and had seven quarterback hurries. Over a two-year period as a starter at defensive end, Matthews accounted for 62 tackles and six pass deflections.
Jacob Meeks brings a powerful leg to the special teams lineup at Northeast. Meeks attended the 2013 College-Prep Showcase from December 7-8 after a stellar senior season for coach Brian Kelly at Kossuth High School and hit field goals at that event from as long as 55 yards out. He was a MHSAA Class 3A second-team All-State selection at place kicker by the MAC as a senior.
Javon Norris earned second-team MHSAA Class 6A All-State honors from the MAC as a senior for South Panola commander-in-chief Lance Pogue. Norris doubled the number of tackles he made from his junior campaign with 44, 15 of them for loss, in 2013 to help the Tigers earn a trip to the 6A North Half championship contest.
Cesar Resendiz started for Horn Lake since his sophomore campaign at punter and aided the Eagles numerous times in shifting field position with his strong leg. He averaged 35.2 yards per punt with a long of 58 yards. Thirty-eight of his boots landed inside the 20-yard line. Resendiz also handled the place kicking at Horn Lake and made 37 of 38 extra point attempts during his career with a field goal long of 42 yards.
Markeise Rodgers directed the offense of coach John Danley and Byhalia High School at quarterback. He led the Indians as a junior with 1,300 yards passing and 16 touchdowns. Rodgers also tallied 350 yards rushing that campaign with six more scores on his way to earning first-team All-MHSAA Division 3, Class 3A honors.
Traevon Sharp was named the No. 32 prospect in the Orlando Sentinel’s 2014 Central Florida Super60 before his senior season. Sharp started for Evans (Fla.) High School for three years and as a sophomore and junior accounted for nearly 100 tackles and 15 sacks. With Sharp on the field and under the direction of coach Chip Gierke, the Trojans were Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Class 7A district champions for two straight seasons. He held offers from multiple schools, including defending American Athletic Conference (AAC) runner-up University of Louisville.
Brady Smith is the third member of the South Panola Tigers to join the Northeast family. He participated in all 15 games for South Panola as a senior and rolled up 36 tackles at safety. Smith was close behind Lloyd in the defensive backfield with 23 pass break ups.
Micah Sparks is a multi-purpose athlete from North Pontotoc in Ecru. He averaged 18.5 yards per catch and a touchdown as a senior but could see more of a role at safety for the Tigers.
Dontayvius Stapleton saw playing time for three years at Rosa Fort. Stapleton accounted for 18 pass deflections, four interceptions and three fumble recoveries in his career with the Lions. He also caught 23 passes, five of them for touchdowns, over a two-season span.
Isiah Taylor is the final of six Olive Branch Conquistadors to become Northeast Tigers on National Signing Day. He compiled some of the best statistics on their squad, including 104 tackles and 37 quarterback hurries between his junior and senior campaigns at cornerback.
Mac Williams anchored an offensive line that helped Water Valley High School and coach Brad Embry become MHSAA Division 2, Class 3A runner-up. Williams and the Blue Devil linemen created space for their running backs to average 213.8 yards per game and nearly 3,000 yards total in 2013.
Antonio Wilson was Rodgers’ top target at wide receiver for Byhalia during their run to the MHSAA Class 4A postseason last year. Wilson and the Indians upset Corinth High School on the road in the opening round before seeing their magical run come to an end against Cleveland High School.
Tray Woody rounds out the class of 34 outstanding athletes to become Northeast Tigers. Woody was a second-team MHSAA Class 1A All-State selection by the MAC at linebacker for coach Cory Armstrong and Falkner High School. He had an unbelievable final campaign at the prep level with 120 total tackles, 70 of them solo, to go with four interceptions.
For more information on Northeast football and 2014 National Signing Day, please visit our website at www.nemccathletics.com and follow us on Twitter at @NEMCCTigers.
–Blake Long, Sports Information Director, Northeast Mississippi Community College

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