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Wildcats Jones, Mackey, Williams sign to play college football

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Wildcats Jones, Mackey, Williams sign to play college football

By Josh Troy

Clarksdale Advocate

Clarksdale High School’s football program has won three consecutive division championships, and athletes and coaches received some of the top Region 3-4A honors following the 2022 season. Three senior Wildcats (10-2, 4-0) were rewarded for their achievements and officially committed to continuing their careers at the college level on National Signing Day last week. Cornerback Kelley Jones (6 feet, 4 ½ inches, 185 pounds) signed with Mississippi State University, defensive tackle Cameron Mackey (6-2, 280) signed with the University of Southern Mississippi, and rushing end and outside linebacker Torian Williams (6-4, 210) signed with Copiah-Lincoln Community College. Jones was named the Region 3-4A Player of the Year and a Co-Offensive Player of the Year, and Mackey was named a Co-Defensive Player of the Year.

Wildcats coach Johnny Maddox earned Region 3-4A Coach of the Year honors. Maddox completed his first season as the head coach after several years as an assistant. In addition to winning the Region 3-4A championship, the Wildcats advanced to the second round of the playoffs under Maddox’s leadership.

Kelley Jones

Jones verbally committed to playing for Mississippi State during the summer of 2022. “I chose Mississippi State because it felt like you’re being surrounded by the same people as you,” he said. “Everybody acts the same. There was something different about it. They showed too much love.” When Bulldogs coach Mike Leach unexpectedly died in Dec. 2022, Jones appreciated how the rest of the coaching staff handled things. “All the coaches told us to write an article or something on how we feel about him,” Jones said. “I had seen him a week before. We were at the official visit. I talked to him and everything.” Leach made a positive impression when he met Jones. “That was my first time meeting him,” Jones said. “He was real smart. He was just telling me what I could do to make it to the NFL and how to be a better player.”

Defensive coordinator Zach Arnett succeeded Leach as the Mississippi State coach. Jones officially signed to play for Arnett and the Bulldogs on National Signing Day. While Jones will be playing cornerback at Mississippi State, he also saw action at safety for the Wildcats and was the starting quarterback as an upperclassman in high school. He took over the quarterback position as a junior after Martez Williams went down with an injury. Jones finished his senior season with 29 touchdowns and 10 of them were on passing plays. He had 2,018 all-purpose yards in 2022 and scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery. Torian Williams forced the fumble.

Jones’ best game was a 45-0 win at Cleveland when he scored five touchdowns. Four of the touchdowns were on rushing plays, and one was a pass. Although Jones had success on offense, he prefers playing defense. “Defense is fun, especially with a lot of people that run around doing the same thing you’re doing,” he said. Jones said he would play any position to help his team. “If you want to win, you’ve got to buy into it,” he said. “If you’re playing, you can do it like that. No excuses.”

Jones’ versatility helped him be selected to play in the Bernard Blackwell All-Star Game in Gulfport, Mississippi/Alabama All-Star Game in Mobile, Ala., and Magnolia All-Star Game at East Central Community College. He was also named to the All-State team. Looking ahead, Jones felt playing cornerback at Mississippi State was the best fit for him. “I can guard, and I’m fast enough to guard. I’ve got height and speed,” he said. Jones has a goal to gain 10 pounds of muscle and reach the 195-pound mark. “I want to get big,” he said. “I don’t want to gain too much weight, but I want to get bigger though.”

Jones said Mississippi State’s offseason program is similar to Clarksdale, but athletes have to do more work at the college level. “You do a whole lot more,” he said. “It’s more than what you do in high school. It’s a lot.” Jones began playing football for the Clarksdale Bears at age 9 under coach Kelvin Stacker. He is also on the basketball team and can play any position on the court.“I grew up liking both (football and basketball), but I think football’s got the edge,” Jones said. “There’s a lot more that comes with it.”

Jones currently holds a 2.9 GPA but expects it to improve to 3.19 the next time grades come out. He plans to major in either business or health science in college and understands the importance of academics. “You can’t just play football if your grades are below average,” he said. “It would be like wasting your time if you have bad grades.” Jones said a key to keeping up with his studies is doing homework days prior to the games.

Cameron Mackey

Mackey, who maintains a 3.4 GPA and is on the honor roll, chose to attend the University of Southern Mississippi to put his education first. “It was Division 1, and I got to thinking it was more about my education,” he said. Mackey said he did not believe attending a junior college would be the best path for his education. He plans to major in sports management in college. “I want to be an agent or get into entrepreneurship,” he said.

Mackey followed a daily schedule during football season to maintain his focus on education. “With me, since I get out at 2, it makes a lot more time available,” he said. “I get out of school at 2 o’clock, and after 2, I go work out at about 2:15 until about 3:45. I head home, and I make it home by 4:30 and, from there, I get my protein in, I get my stretching in, and I lay down and call it a night.”

Mackey’s routine helped him finish with 84 tackles, 12 tackles for losses, four sacks, eight quarterback hurries, and one forced fumble his senior season. He played in the Magnolia All-Star Game, Bernard Blackwell All-Star Game and earned All-State and All-Conference honors.

Mackey was both a defensive end and defensive tackle for the Wildcats. He will be a defensive tackle in college and felt that he was the better fit because of his athletic ability. He currently weighs 280 pounds but hopes to gain at least 20 pounds of muscle in college. “At Southern Miss, I’m going to be a lean 300, lean 310 (pounds),” he said. Mackey said the Golden Eagles’ workout program would help him build that muscle. “It’s more explosive and athletic,” he said. Other than running track to stay in shape, Mackey only plays football. He began playing football for the Clarksdale Lumberjacks at age 5 under coach Tyrone Smith.

Torian Williams

Williams will be playing rushing end and outside linebacker, two defensive positions, at Copiah-Lincoln Community. “I hate offense,” he said. “It comes down to hitting folks (on defense).”Williams welcomes playing more than one position. “I’m happy they gave me something I could work with,” he said. “They know that I’m athletic enough for the drop back in coverage, to come back down and tackle the quarterback and all that.”

Williams said one of the things he liked about Co-Lin when visiting the school was the country environment. He also believes going there can help him reach his goal of eventually playing Division 1 football. Williams is currently 210 pounds.“My coach told me they just want me to get to 245, but I’m going to give them 250,” he said. Williams said the workout program is different at Co-Lin than Clarksdale. At Co-Lin, he said he would start lifting weights that are around 95 pounds, which is 45% of his current weight at 210 pounds. Eventually, he said he would be lifting weights that are 90% of what he weighs.

Williams had 68 solo tackles as a senior for the Wildcats, 78 total tackles, 12 quarterback hurries, five pass deflections, and three sacks. His best game came in a 20-14 homecoming win against district opponent Gentry when he had two pass deflections, three quarterback hurries, and at least 10 tackles.

Williams began his football career at Higgins Middle School playing for coach Anthony Chestnut, who is also an assistant for the high school team. He throws the discus and shot put in track. He maintains a 3.0 GPA. “I come to school,” he said. “After school, I go to the field house, lift weights, stay for track practice, go home, do my homework, eat, and do the same thing over (the next day).” Williams plans to major in engineering and physics in college. “I really want to have my own engineering business,” said Williams, adding he hopes to live in the Jackson area.

Clarksdale Wildcats District 4A Region 3 honors:

Coach of The Year: Coach Johnny Maddox

 Player of The Year: Kelley Jones

 Offensive Player of the Year: Senior Kelley Jones 

Co-Defensive Player of The Year: Senior Cameron Mackey

 4A Region 3 All District Team:

1st Team OFFENSE :

OT- Junior James Lewis

OG- Sophomore Jason Liner

C- Patrick Johnson Jr

OG- Junior Kyron Williams 

OT- London Butler

WR- Sophomore Keuntre Gardner

TE- Junior Cameron Pittman

2nd Team Offense:

RB- Senior Khamari Gamble 

RB- Senior Ramon Hill

WR- Sophomore Tyrese Lewis 

OG- Senior Fred Dumas

FB- Junior Markel Harper

RB- Sophomore Monrekus McGregory

K- Junior Fares Moggali 

 Honorable Mention- 

RB-Junior Kebian Gilmore

1st Team Defense:

DT - Senior Cimmion Ross

DE - Junior Kyle Coleman

LB - Junior Kebian Gilmore

LB - Senior Daniel Wilson

DB-Patrick Broonfield 

DB- Sophomore Monrekus McGregory

LB-Sophomore Jaquarrious Hearn

2nd Team Defense:

DE- Senior Torian Williams

DB - Junior Rico Lewis

DB - Sophomore Lemarcus Hicks

LB - Junior Standick Hodges

DE - Junior Monterious Haynes

DE- Senior Brice Willingham 

LS - Sophomore Stoney Gooden

 Honorable Mention-

DB - Freshman Rhymes Chess

PHOTO CUTLINE: Clarksdale High School seniors Torian Williams, from left, Cameron Mackey, and Kelley Jones all committed to play college football on National Signing Day.

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