STARKVILLE - Manny Diaz is ready to see his defensive players tackle other guys than their own teammates.
Editor's Note: The Dispatch continues its series titled "Pieces of a Dynasty," which examines the East Mississippi Community College football team's rise to national prominence. Today, The Dispatch analyzes how the elimination of the recruiting districts in the state of Mississippi has helped EMCC become the state of Mississippi's most dominant program, and win national titles three of the past four seasons. In the final weeks before National Signing Day, Noxubee County High School football coach Tyrone Shorter estimates he works an extra full day per week.
STARKVILLE -- It's easy to see why Justin Malone and Justin Senior are the leaders of the Mississippi State football team's offensive line. Malone and Senior are the only returning starters from a line that last year helped MSU climb to No. 1 and stay there for five weeks en route to a 10-3 finish (6-2 in the Southeastern Conference). Malone, a senior left guard, has 16 career starts in three seasons with the program, while Senior, a junior right tackle, has 14 starts in his two-year career.
OXFORD -- Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze hopes star receiver Laquon Treadwell scores a touchdown every time he touches the ball this season. Except once. "In a strange kind of way," Freeze said. "I'm looking forward to seeing him get tackled."
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The Alabama football team's first depth chart of the year doesn't clear up the starting quarterback mystery. The top spot looking at the depth chart is inhabited by Jake Coker/Cooper Bateman/Alec Morris. In other words, one of the above. Tight end O.J. Howard can't shed much light on the three-man competition either when friends and classmates ask because, "I'm just like them, I don't know."
SCOOBA -- When Dr. Rick Young took over as president at East Mississippi Community College in 2004, he had a long-range plan for athletics. It is a safe bet that the school's success far exceeded his best-laid plans. "I have never met anyone with a vision like Dr. Young," EMCC eighth-year football coach Buddy Stephens said. "Dr. Young always had every answer to every question. He had an answer to a problem before you saw it coming. He was not one or two steps ahead, he was on another block."
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State junior defensive end A.J. Jefferson will be looked to as a leader this season, but he will lead his way. Jefferson is one of six returning lettermen on the defensive line who will try to help the Bulldogs make up for the graduation losses of Preston Smith, Kaleb Eulls, P.J. Jones, and Curtis Virges. Fans will get to see his unique leadership style at 9 p.m. Saturday, when MSU plays Southern Mississippi in the season opener for both teams in Hattiesburg. Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the game live.
FULTON -- The No. 7 Copiah-Lincoln Community College scored 13 points in the fourth quarter Thursday night to rally for a 26-14 victory against Itawamba C.C. in the season opener for both teams.
SCOOBA -- It was a typical summer for Wyatt Roberts replete with another quarterback competition at East Mississippi Community College. Another big-name transfer from a Division I power arrives on campus and is penciled in as the starter by fans and media. Roberts, a sophomore quarterback from Louisville High School, is probably shorter than what he is listed as (6-foot) on the EMCC football team's roster. When John Franklin III, a transfer from Florida State and an All-Atlantic Coastal Conference track performer, arrived in Scooba, Roberts elevated his play. He did so with the intent to play a key role in EMCC's march to history this season. Roberts started that journey on a strong note Thursday, running for a touchdown and throwing for another in No. 1 EMCC's 69-20 victory against Southwest Mississippi C.C. at Sullivan-Windham Field.
SCOOBA -- East Mississippi Community College freshman running back Jacquez Horsley has never doubted his athletic ability. He has doubted whether he could stay healthy enough to realize the depth of that talent. Injuries put a major damper on each of Horsley's final two seasons at Starkville High School. Those setbacks also might have played a role in his lack of major Division I offers, so signing with the state of Mississippi's premier junior college program was in his words "a chance to re-start my career." The opening act of the new career was a smash hit.
SCOOBA -- Having played football his entire life, East Mississippi Community College defensive lineman Ronald Ollie knows the length of a football field. However, Ollie had never really thought about how much of that field he could cover with the other team in pursuit in live action. Ollie returned a fumble 24 yards for the go-ahead touchdown Thursday night at Sullivan-Windham Field. From there, the floodgates opened as No. 1 EMCC beat Southwest Mississippi C.C. 69-20 in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) season opener for both teams.
STARKVILLE -- Jamaal Clayborn is finding the move from right guard to center to be more than just putting the ball into the quarterback's hands. The Mississippi State junior has taken on a leadership role at his new position. Before he snaps the ball to quarterback Dak Prescott, he has to make sure everybody is on the same page.
STARKVILLE -- Dez Harris isn't like most football players. The Mississippi State sophomore linebacker didn't hang his head after seeing his redshirt freshman season end last year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Coaches' preseason All-SEC teams
SCOOBA -- East Mississippi Community College sophomore running back D.J. Law admits he was disappointed when Division I football wasn't in his immediate post-high school future. The hurt lingered for a while. After a couple of months, he decided it was best to make the most of his new football home. EMCC reaped the immediate rewards of that decision.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Alabama and LSU each placed 10 players on the coaches' preseason All-Southeastern Conference teams, while Mississippi State senior quarterback Dak Prescott was named first team quarterback.
STARKVILLE -- For the first time in program history, the Mississippi State football team has eclipsed the 50,000 mark in season ticket sales, the MSU Athletic Ticket Office announced Tuesday.
STARKVILLE - Ryan Brown's main position while growing up in Louisiana was running back.
STARKVILLE - First-year Mississippi State volleyball coach David McFatrich sees a career in volleyball for senior Emily Howard.
STARKVILLE -- Freshmen usually have two schools of thoughts when it comes to their first college football season. They either want to play right away or they want to sit out the first season and be redshirted. Mississippi State junior linebacker Richie Brown fell in the latter category and was redshirted as a freshman. He said it was one of the best things that could have happened to him.
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