August 14, 2009 9:03:00 AM
Adam Minichino - email@example.com
FULTON -- Evan Lackey wants to help the Itawamba Community College football team get back to the playoffs.
One year after playing at ICC, Anthony Lackey, Evan''s brother, wants to help his new team at Kentucky Wesleyan reach the same goal.
Evan Lackey will begin that journey at 5 p.m. today when ICC plays Copiah-Lincoln in a scrimmage at Lambert Stadium.
The game action will be the first for the former Amory High School standout, who has impressed the coaches in the past few months.
"I am real happy with him," ICC assistant head coach / offensive coordinator Jeff Carter said. "He catches on real fast and is a dual threat. He can play wideout and running back. He is a versatile athlete who can play a couple of sports. That''s what we wanted to get this year, a few guys who can play a few areas and be dual threats."
Lackey moved from wide receiver to running back last season at Amory after senior running back Frank Pruitt went down with an injury. The 5-foot-8 1/2 Lackey, who has bulked up from 180 pounds to 200 pounds this season, had one of his best games of the year in a 22-21 victory against Aberdeen on Oct. 31. He ran for 141 yards on 19 carries and had 86 yards on the Panthers'' final drive to set up what proved to be the winning touchdown.
Lackey''s hard running, particularly on the final series, gave him the confidence that he could be a contributor at the next level. He knows he will have to play with the intensity and the passion he showed against Aberdeen every snap at ICC.
"I am going to have to play hard every play, every down," Lackey said "It is way, way, way faster than high school.
"I am very confident because I have been working hard all summer. I am not trying to sit on the bench. I am trying to play, so I work hard so I can go out there and play. If I go out there and do what I do in practice I am going to play."
Lackey admitted he has surprised himself, but Carter said it wouldn''t be a shock to see Lackey play a big role this season in an offense that has added plenty of speed.
He said Lackey is real quick, has good hands, and a good knowledge of the game. All of those things have made him a "pleasant surprise."
"He sees the holes and is really quick," Carter said. "You''re going to see a lot of Lackey. Lackey will play somewhere and get a scholarship after he is done here."
Lackey said he wanted to leave home to play college football but he couldn''t pass up the offer to play football so close to home. He said he is looking forward to proving that even though some might consider him to be undersized he can still play a key role.
"They are probably going to underestimate me at receiver because I am short, but it doesn''t mean anything to me," Lackey said. "I can go up on anybody. It doesn''t matter."
Amory High coach Pat Byrd believes Evan Lackey will handle the transition to ICC.
"I think Evan has unlimited position just because he hasn''t played the position very long," Byrd said. "Until the injury last year to Frank Pruitt, we needed him at receiver. It is kind of like a twist of fate and the Lord put him where he needed to be. He has the balance and the vision. He just needs to get a little faster and maybe grow a little bit, but I think he has a world or potential."
Anthony Lackey believes in his brother, too. He said he is a hard worker and has a lot of skills.
"He has a lot more skills than me. Really," said Anthony, a defensive back. "A lot of people probably are going to doubt him, but he is going to surprise a lot of people. They are going to have a good year this year."
ICC finished third in the MACJC North Division last season, snapping its streak of four consecutive playoff seasons.
Anthony Lackey said it was difficult last year overcoming turnovers and a lack of team chemistry. He said the team had a lot of potential and could have done a lot better than it showed.
But Anthony said he is eager to put last season behind him and earn playing time at Kentucky Wesleyan, a Division II school.
"I think I am a better player than used to be," Lackey said. "I got better in coverage skills and tackling. I was a better team player. I used to get mad, but I am a better listener to coaches than I was as a freshman."
Lackey credited ICC coach Jeff Terrill for helping him to become a better player. Like his brother, Anthony believes he is going to surprise people this season.
Byrd hopes Anthony realizes an opportunity to accomplish that goal.
"I am just proud he found a place to play," Byrd said. "He is one of those guys who came to practice every day and never had a bad day. He was always smiling and kept everybody loose."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.