Desoto County Sports

Northeast Tigers sign with four-year schools during mid-year period

Photo: Jermaine Ray of Southaven (#17) is shown in action for Northeast Mississippi Community College this past fall. Ray has committed to play next season at the University of North Alabama. (Ryan Moreland/Northeast Mississippi Community College)

Credit: Northeast Mississippi Community College Sports Information

The Northeast Mississippi Community College football team had several players officially become alumni of the program over the holidays.

Twelve Tigers made their future plans become a reality by inking a National Letter of Intent (NLI) during the mid-year signing period.

Jermaine Ray (University of North Alabama) was an all-conference selection at safety after securing a team-best four interceptions. Two of them came in the second half of Northeast’s match up with Northwest.

Southaven’s Ray picked things up a notch during the Tigers’ final five contests with an average of 7.4 tackles over that stretch. He had 10 stops plus a forced fumble at East Central Community College.

RJ Whitehead (Tulane [La.] University) was an everyday starter for the Tigers at offensive tackle. The 6-5, 270-pound lineman came to Northeast from Horn Lake High School.

Jenari Bell (University of Arkansas at Monticello) gave Northeast extra depth at defensive tackle. He accounted for a team-best 18 stops among the Tigers’ down linemen.

Aberdeen’s Bell had a career-best five tackles during Northeast’s win over Itawamba Community College. He also recovered a fumble during the Tigers’ sensational second half against Holmes Community College.

Anthony Brown (Southwest Minnesota State University) played a critical role for Northeast on its special teams. He tallied six tackles as a member of the kickoff and punt coverage units.

Yazoo City’s Brown also fell upon a fumble on a muffed punt in the fourth quarter of the Tigers’ victory over Coahoma Community College. He saw action on defense in the linebacking corps as well.

TJ Fields (University of Arkansas at Monticello) had the second most receptions and yards among Northeast’s wideouts. He brought in 27 passes for 329 yards for an average of 12.2 yards per catch.

Aberdeen’s Fields had a breakout performance during the Tigers’ season finale at Northwest Mississippi Community College. He set career-highs with eight catches for 131 yards along with his lone touchdown of the year.

Guy Gillespie (University of Nevada) was an all-conference recipient as both a punter and as a place kicker. He had career totals at Northeast of 89 points on 13 true field goals and 50 extra points.

The Booneville High School alumnus made the second longest field goal in school history of 49 yards at East Mississippi Community College. He finished in the top five nationally in both punting average at 39.9 and punts inside the 20-yard line with 21.

John Jackson (University of Central Arkansas) anchored a stout defensive line for the Tigers at nose tackle. He wrapped up his tenure on the Booneville campus by obtaining all-conference distinction.

The Heritage Academy graduate had at least one tackle during each of the first eight games of the year. Jackson accumulated 21 stops in 14 total appearances in a black-and-gold uniform.

Jalen Lairy (Henderson State [Ark.] University) started in all nine contests for Northeast at left guard. The 6-3, 350-pound offensive lineman joined the Tigers from West Point High School.

Jaylon Lewis (Central Methodist [Mo.] University) was a key member of the Tigers’ rotation at tackle. The New Hope High School graduate was part of a line that protected an offense that averaged 312.2 yards per game.

Dorrian Smith (Georgia Southern University) returns to his home state following two stellar campaigns on the Booneville campus. He had 42 tackles, 10 pass break ups and two picks in the defensive backfield at Northeast.

The Fort Valley, Ga., native racked up 19 solo stops, 1.5 tackles for loss and five pass break ups as a sophomore. His only interception of the season came in week three versus rival Itawamba.

Keaton Thomas (Baylor [Texas] University) was recently recognized as the sixteenth NJCAA All-American in program history. He was one of just seven players at the two-year level that recorded triple-digit tackles this fall.

The Jacksonville, Fla., product topped both divisions of the NJCAA with 11.9 tackles per game. Thomas had three 15-plus tackle outings and added a special teams touchdown against Mississippi Delta Community College.

Jalik Yancey (Samford [Ala.] University) earned all-conference distinction during his lone season with the Tigers after leading all defenders at NJCAA Division I institutions with 14 pass break ups.

The Atlanta, Ga., native also tied for the most forced fumbles in the country with four. Yancey posted 55 total tackles with 39 solos, which were both more than any other Northeast defensive back.

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