MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — After failing to qualify at West Virginia, and rethinking a 24-hour flirtation with Marshall, highly recruited receiver Jacob McCrary announced last week he was heading to junior college.
Precisely which junior college became apparent Monday when MetroNews confirmed McCrary enrolled at Northwest Mississippi Community College. It’s a program located in the small town of Senatobia and led by a new head coach who previously worked with WVU offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson.
“That’s kind of the way these things work at the junior college level—it’s about building relationships,” said Northwest’s Jack Wright, who served with Dawson on the staff at Division III Millsaps College during the 2006 and ’07 seasons.
West Virginia wants to re-sign McCrary in 2016, and the player shared a mutual inclination during a recent interview with the Rivals website WVSports.com. Wright said “we feel a sense of responsibility” to develop the player toward that goal.
Recruited out of Miami’s Coral Reef High School by the likes of Florida State, Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, LSU and Notre Dame, McCrary failed to qualify after his standardized test score was flagged by the NCAA. Instead of enrolling at Marshall as a non-qualifier and sitting out the upcoming season, McCrary was steered to the junior college route with designs on making it back to Morgantown in two years.
“It’s humbling for these kids, going from being recruited by the best big-time schools to having to work their way back though junior college,” Wright said. “But for a kid like him, he will be that much more appreciative of the four-year school when he gets there.”
Because Senatobia resides in the shadow of Memphis, Wright said the campus doesn’t feel as isolated as some others in the Mississippi juco system.
“It’s not like he’ll be stuck at one of these junior colleges that’s an hour from any town and sits out in the middle of a cotton field,” Wright said. “This place is nice. We’re a full-scholarship program with really nice dorms and a full cafeteria.”
Northwest also runs a version of the high-tempo spread offense Dawson and Wright coached at Millsaps, where the Majors enjoyed a rapid turnaround to earn their first NCAA playoff berth in 31 years.
“I’m sure some of the terminology has changed, but the offense is very similar to what a lot of the Big 12 teams are doing,” Wright said. “We spread it out with a lot of three- and four-receiver sets. And if a kid has to read a coverage on a certain play, it’s probably similar to what he’ll have to do when he gets to West Virginia.”