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JUCO Target Watch: Mississippi Gulf Coast




I've had the great joy of seeing East Mississippi Community College twice now, but last night was especially good given the opponent: consistent Power 5 factory Mississippi Gulf Coast CC. There are several others that are sure to be recruited by some schools, but here are two that stood out to me. 


TIGHT END LANDON RICE: 6'5", 260 pounds 


How he got here: he left Auburn for, "personal reasons." 


The first thing I noticed is that his skill set applies almost everywhere on the field: he did some things well at the classic inline tight end spot, he did things well behind the line of scrimmage as an H-Back and he looked comfortable when he was thrown into the slot at times. 


I remember one catch he made from an H-Back position, lined up behind/in between the guard and the center: streak straight up the field, ball is thrown in an awkward spot but he jumps, turns around in the area to face the quarterback/ball, grab it, turn around again in the air, land and get himself forward before getting taken down in short order. 


Here's my drawback: he didn't show me much in the blocking respect. He did square up a small defensive back once or twice and dominate him pretty good, but I didn't personally see him dominate a block against a defensive lineman or linebacker: I even saw him get up to a DB just for the DB to shake him and Rice more or less whiffed. 


Here's an idea: my first thought with him was for a college program to take him, have him lose 30 pounds and turn him into a bulky receiver type, just because the blocking ability is suspect (based on one game). 




He comes to MGCCC from LSU and seems pretty natural as a standup defensive end type. He showed the ability to get off the ball from that alignment, which a recent conversation with Montez Sweat made me realize may not be as easy as you think. (You'll see the story from that conversation next week, probably.) 


I saw him as a very physical presence, the kind of player that can control blocks with ease at times with his arms fully extended and without throwing a ton of effort into that initial punch. That physicality applies to his tackling, too: he looks like the type that wants to prove a point when throwing people to the ground, and isn't that what you want in a defensive lineman? You need some savage in that spot. 


The only question is if MSU wants him: the Bulldogs did go heavy in the JUCO ranks at this position last year and they have zero seniors in the entire position group. Obviously an SEC school is going to get something at defensive line in every signing class, it's just that the net mght not be wide enough to catch Washington. Time will tell.



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