COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – For their individual on-field efforts in helping lead East Mississippi Community College to the program’s second NJCAA National Championship in three years, six members of this year’s unbeaten EMCC Lions football team have been accorded NJCAA All-American honors. The NJCAA national office made the announcement Monday.
Headlined by first-team selections Dontreal Pruitt and Avery Gennesy on offense along with defensive end Jimmie Gipson III, this year’s EMCC group of NJCAA All-Americans also includes second-team honoree Christian Russell at linebacker as well as honorable mention defensive recipients D.J. Pettway and A.J. Stamps. The Lions’ half-dozen NJCAA All-Americans tie EMCC with second-ranked Iowa Western Community College and No. 3 Georgia Military College for the most selections this season.
This year’s six-man NJCAA All-American class also marks the most EMCC honorees for one season in the six years head coach Buddy Stephens has been at the helm of East Mississippi’s football program. Including this season’s six-member contingent and last year’s four recipients, EMCC has now garnered a composite total of 19 NJCAA All-Americans in football dating back to the 2008 campaign. During that same six-year span, Stephens’ EMCC Lions have posted a 56-10 (.848) composite record with NJCAA National Championships this past year and in 2011, along with three MACJC State/NJCAA Region 23 Championships (2013, 2011 & 2009) and five MACJC North Division regular-season titles (2013, ’12, ’11, ’09 & ’08).
Pruitt’s first-team selection extends East Mississippi Community College’s current streak to six consecutive years that the Lions have featured an NJCAA All-American quarterback, following in the footsteps of Quez Johnson (now at Florida Atlantic), Bo Wallace (Ole Miss), Brad Henderson (Northwestern [La.] State), and two-time honoree Randall Mackey (Ole Miss). Pruitt, a Laurel High School product, ranked third among the NJCAA statistical leaders in passing yards per game (328.2 yds/gm), second with 45 passing touchdowns and fifth in pass completion percentage (64.3%). For his season-long efforts in directing the 12-0 EMCC Lions to a new single-season, NJCAA-record 7,327 yards of total offense, Pruitt was also tabbed as the 2013 Player of the Year by the Mississippi Bowl Committee following the Lions’ recent 52-32 victory over Georgia Military College in the NJCAA National Championship Game played Dec. 8 in Biloxi.
Gennesy, a 6-foot-5, 305-pound left tackle from Southaven, has been a two-year mainstay on EMCC’s offensive line that paved the way for the 2013 Lions averaging an NJCAA-leading 62.2 points per game, which included 47 passing touchdowns, 45 rushing scores, eight defensive touchdowns and four scores on special teams. EMCC’s high-powered offensive attack also ranked third nationally in passing offense (356.7 yds/gm) and eighth in rushing offense (253.9 yds/gm) this past season.
Featuring NJCAA All-Americans Gipson III, Russell, Pettway and Stamps, East Mississippi’s vaunted defensive unit allowed an average of only 9.8 points per contest, including five shutouts during a six-week stretch, to finish second nationally to ASA College in scoring defense. The 2013 EMCC Lions topped the NJCAA team ranks with 67 sacks and finished second nationally to Rochester Community and Technical College with 30 pass interceptions.
Gipson III, out of Olive Branch High School, led the NJCAA with 17 sacks for 140 yards lost while finishing fourth among EMCC’s leading tacklers with 65 total stops (46 solos and 19 assists) on the year.
Russell ranked as the Lions’ No. 2 tackler for the season with 80 total tackles (44 solos & 36 assists), including seven stops behind the line of scrimmage. With a pair of defensive scores as a sophomore, the Fayetteville, N.C. native also totaled eight pass break-ups, two pass interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in 2013.
Pettway, a University of Alabama transfer by way of Pensacola (Fla.) Catholic High School ranked fifth nationally this past year with 11.5 sacks for 99 yards lost along with making five other tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Stamps, who switched from wide receiver to cornerback during his two-year stint in Scooba, was second on this year’s EMCC squad with four pass interceptions for 124 total yards, including a 100-yard pick-six in the team’s 49-6 season-opening win at Pearl River. The Vicksburg native was also credited with nine pass break-ups and 51 total tackles this past season, including eight stops behind the line of scrimmage.
The 2013 Spalding NJCAA Football Players of the Year will be announced Thursday, Dec. 19.