By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
BOONEVILLE – Northeast Mississippi looks to have one of the most talented offenses in the MACJC this season, especially at quarterback.
No matter who is taking the snaps.
Less that two weeks before Northeast opens up their 2011 campaign at home against East Central, a battle for the starting role behind center continues during the Tigers’ practices.
Bryan Steele ended last year as the starting quarterback, but he’s being pushed in practice by a talented freshman class.
J.R. Jennings (Calhoun City), Tyler Basil (New Albany), and Parks Frazier (Corinth) will make Steele work to maintain his starting role. All three newcomers passed for over 2,000 yards their senior seasons.
“I’m glad it’s that way because it gives me something to work or every day,” a confident Steele said. “I know they’re out there to take my job, but I feel I’m doing a good job of being the leader out here.”
Steele has the experience and knowledge of playing in the junior college ranks, but Northeast head coach Ricky Smither says the role of starting quarterback is still wide open.
“It’s a great opportunity for me because I’m getting to coach probably four of the best quarterbacks in Mississippi,” Smither said at the Tigers’ Media Day on Thursday. “Each one of those kids brings something to the table that’s totally different.
“Any one of those guys can step in. They’re neck and neck.”
BELUE FOR THE DEFENSE
The defensive side of the ball looks equally impressive for the Tigers, who are led by Alabama commitment Deion Belue.
Belue, who originally signed out of high school to play for the Crimson Tide, recorded 20 tackles and four pass breakups while being Northeast’s go-to man on special teams his freshman year. “You coach your whole life to run across a kid like him,” Smither said. “Some of the plays he makes on the field I’ll look at (defensive coordinator Jeff) Carter and we’ll both just shake our heads.”
The Tuscumbia, Ala., native is just one of a group of “talented kids” that Northeast will have on defense in 2011.
“Deion kind of overshadows what’s happening,” said Smither, “but the defense is probably the best I’ve been around.”