COURTESY OF JCJC SPORTS INFORMATION
ELLISVILLE – David Thornton knows the lifeblood of any junior college football program is recruiting.
But the new Jones County Junior College head football coach took a few minutes away from that task in order to address the media during an introductory press conference Friday morning.
"We actually have recruits here on campus now, so as soon as we are done here, I will go meet and greet with them," he said at the press conference, which was held in the Media Room of the C.L. Neill Student Center and aired live on JCJC-TV. "We had a good group in yesterday, too. Ever since the transition took place, we have been on the road trying to get face-to-face with all of the great talent in the southern part of the state. I think we have been very successful so far, but we have a long way to go. We have 18 days until signing day and we are counting them down."
The JCJC Board of Trustees officially approved Thornton to be the head coach during its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday. In December, he was named interim head coach, effective Jan. 1, after Ray Perkins had resigned after serving two years as head coach."
JCJC school president Dr. Jesse Smith introduced Thornton to the crowd, which included members of Thornton's family and JCJC staffers, as well as the local media.
"It is a great day for JCJC," Dr. Smith said. "We are very proud of where we are going with our program. Coach Thornton has been part of the JCJC family for two years as our offensive coordinator and it's been very exciting to watch Bobcat football.
"We have been competitive in all of our games and we have set some records this year and last year. There is a new pride in JCJC football and it has been energized by this powerful offense."
Dr. Smith said Thornton's ability to communicate with student-athletes, coaches and others is a major plus.
"Coach Thornton is an outstanding practitioner," he said. "He connects with his athletes very well and he is connected with coaches all over the country. He is a great recruiter. He is a solid man and a solid man of God. I think he is going to be a great coach for a long time at JCJC."
Thornton's offense has put up big numbers with the Bobcats.
This past season, the Bobcats averaged 40.6 points per game. JCJC passed for 327.5 yards per game, which was second in the MACJC and fourth in the NJCAA. They rushed for 135.5 yards per game. JCJC averaged 463.0 yards per game, which was second in the MACJC and eighth in the NJCAA.
In 2012, the Bobcats averaged 32.8 points per game and 412.0 yards per game in Thornton's first year as offensive coordinator.
The Bobcats have posted a 15-5 record, including an MACJC South Division championship and a berth in the state championship game this past season.
Thornton plans on keeping the Bobcats headed in a positive way. He credits the JCJC players and coaches for the recent success.
"First, I would like to thank Dr. Smith and the Board of Trustees for this great opportunity to be the head football coach at Jones County Junior College," he said. "I take great pride and great pleasure in this. A lot of people don't realize the winning tradition that Jones County Junior College has and that's something we plan to keep doing.
"We look forward to going out and recruiting the young men in this area and bring in the great talent in this part of the state of Mississippi and keep that tradition alive. We have had a lot of success and that's a tribute to the coaches we've had here and the players. They have done a great job buying into what we have done. I'm just tickled to death to be here."
Thornton thanked everyone who has contacted him since it became known he would be the new Bobcat head coach.
"There have been a lot of people on campus who have been so supportive," he said. "When the transition happened, I started getting a lot of phone calls, a lot of texts and a lot of congratulatory messages and I'm very appreciative of that.
"I thank everyone for that and I promise you we are going to do a great job. We are going to work hard because I'm a firm believer in that you reap what you sow. If you work hard, great things will happen and that's going to be our motto as we move forward with the JCJC Bobcats."
Thornton also credited Perkins for his guidance and his role with the Bobcats as head coach.
"I think we will build on the momentum of the past two years," he said. "We are 15-5 over the past two years, were South Division champions this past year and played for the state championship. I think the program is going in a positive direction.
"Coach Perkins was a huge part of that with his leadership and we plan on building on that. "
Thornton said he and his staff have been quite busy with recruiting and it would stay that way right up until National Signing Day on Feb. 5.
"I'm kind of ready to get all of the formalities over with so we can really hone in on some guys," he said. "We are ready to get out and about in the community and promote Bobcat football."
A "Bobcat Football Recruiting Special" is tentatively set to air live on JCJC-TV on Feb. 5 to announce the signees. More details will be forthcoming.