Juco spotlight: East Mississippi C.C.

SCOOBA, Miss. -- East Mississippi Community College won the NJCAA national championship a year ago, and with a roster chock-full of Division-I talent, it’s looking to repeat again this season.

The roster is highlighted by a number of SEC-caliber athletes including former Ole Miss wide receiver Nickolas Brassell. As a freshman with the Rebels last year, he had 336 yards and two touchdowns.

The plan is for Brassell to return to Oxford, Miss., but now he’s being sought out by other elite programs, including Alabama, Texas and USC.

“I compare him a cross between Ted Ginn Jr. and Antonio Cromartie,” EMCC defensive coordinator William Jones said. “He’s kind of a combination between long, tall, fast and explosive. He’s a physical player. He’s a great person, and he’s an unbelievable competitor.”

Opposite of Brassell is wide receiver Corey Smith. The Akron, Ohio native is in the midst of huge season with 23 receptions for 438 yards and six touchdowns, and he has the offer list to show for it.

Smith committed to Tennessee out of high school, but he now has offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi State, Ohio State, Ole Miss and Texas, among others.

“Corey Smith is playing at a high level,” Jones said. “He’s really surprised me. I didn’t know how good he was, but he’s a good player. He’s as good as any receiver we’ve had. He’s an SEC player.”

On the other side of the ball, the secondary is headed up by safeties Shaquille Fluker, a Georgia commit, and Justin Cox, who has already received offers from Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Ole Miss and Texas Tech. The former Mississippi State signee says he’s hearing from Alabama and LSU as well.

The best athlete on the team and perhaps best-kept secret might be running back Rodriguez Moore, who has 476 yards rushing and eight touchdowns through five games. He has interest from Miami, Ole Miss and Texas Tech.

Even with all of the athletes on the team, the strength of the Lions may be up front on the defensive line, where they have at least five players who could play at the next level.

Physically, it’s hard to miss defensive end Za'Darius Smith, who stands at 6-6 and 255 pounds. The Greenville, Ala., native didn’t start playing football until his senior year in high school, but now he has some of the nation’s top programs coming after him.

“His best football won’t be played until he’s in the NFL,” Jones said. “Whoever gets him after this won’t get the top shelf of him. He’s going to explode exponentially wherever he goes.”

Smith took an official visit to West Virginia this past weekend, and he also made a trip to Florida State for the Clemson game last month.

Defensive tackle Jarran Reed, who committed to North Carolina in June. He’s still being recruited by a number of SEC schools, and wherever he ends up, he’ll have three years to play.

“He’s so athletic, so powerful, and he doesn’t know all of the tools that he has,” Jones said. “We’re just starting to put the right tools in his toolbox.”

Former Florida State defensive lineman Darious Cummings is trying to get back to the Division-I level after a short detour to EMCC. The 6-3, 310-pound lineman recently picked up an offer from Arkansas, and he believes Ole Miss might be next.

The Lions also rotate in Maurice Bennett, Martavius Foster and Lauren Jackson up front on the defensive line, and all three players have interest from BCS programs.