Under the direction of head coach Ryan Mahon, the Blinn College football program has accomplished a lot in the past three seasons, including two bowl appearances and a win in the 2018 Valley of the Sun Bowl. This season, the Buccaneers couple experience with a strong recruiting class for the depth needed to make a bigger jump.
"We have built the foundation for our football program and each year we want to keep adding on layers," Mahon said. "We can do that with this talent pool as long as we have good team chemistry throughout the season. If the guys can come together and play unselfishly, then the sky is the limit."
Blinn finished the 2018 season ranked 15th in the nation with a 7-4 record after defeating then- 14th ranked Scottsdale in the Valley of the Sun Bowl. The Buccaneers signed 38 players on National Signing Day in February.
This year, the Buccaneers start the season as the favorites to win the Southwest Junior College Football Conference title based upon media and coaches' preseason polls.
Defensively, the Buccaneers will pack a punch with many returners ready to put pressure on opposing teams.
Linebackers Tarik Cooper (Texas City) and Josh Reed (Houston) return after totaling a combined 60 tackles last season. Returner Mykel Gates (Carthage) and newcomers Anziah Williams (San Antonio) and Jared Esparza (Gonzales) are expected to add significant value at the position.
"We have a very talented linebacker corps and they are all great team guys," Mahon said.
Returning defensive lineman Kemon Smith (New Orleans, La.), Royce Wellington (Lubbock), Keldric Williams (Mansfield), Robert Jackson (Temple) bring experience, while freshman Joshua Ellison (College Station) is expected to strengthen the line after being named the district's defensive MVP and earning all-state honors at A&M Consolidated.
On the offensive side, Blinn returns quarterback Brock Landis (Houston), who helped seal the bowl-game win for the Buccaneers last season. In nine games, he completed 91-of-171 passes for 1,462 yards and 14 touchdowns, while rushing for 131 yards and five touchdowns on 42 carries.
With the addition of Syracuse University transfer Chance Amie (Flint), the Buccaneers will be strong in the pocket. Amie was ranked the No. 19 dual-threat quarterback in 2018, according to ESPN. Quarterbacks Jaiden Howard (Crosby) and Xayvion West (Cypress) also will contribute.
"We have a good group of quarterbacks who can all really sling the ball and will make it difficult for defenses," Mahon said. "We are also very fortunate to have wide receivers this season who will make big plays."
Wide receivers Danny Gray (Dallas) and Xavier Hutchinson (Jacksonville, Fla.) return after ranking third and fourth on the team in receiving yards last season. Gray caught 409 yards on 15 receptions for six touchdowns, while Hutchinson recorded 306 yards on 15 receptions for two touchdowns.
Trea Shropshire (Zachary, La.) and Eric Peterson (College Station) also return, while DJ Williams (Denham Springs, La.) and University of Texas at San Antonio transfer Lathaniel Washington (Del Valle) are new to the receiving corps. In addition, Hayden Hagler (Sulpher, La.) shows great promise as a tight end.
Devin McAdoo (Fresno) returns to the running back position after finishing second on the team with 542 rushing yards on 70 carries for three touchdowns. Joining him are Texas A&M University transfer CJ Jones (Cypress), Darren Battle (Magnolia) and D'Anthony Simms-Coleman (Spring).
On special teams, Charalambos Pashas returns after totaling 2,115 yards on 46 punts, Alec Shroeder returns after maintaining a 67% field goal percentage and leading Blinn in kicking with 42 points, while Colton Stanley will jump in as the team's deep snapper.
"We are looking forward to some exciting matchups and going to bring an explosive offense and high-pressure defense each week," Mahon said. "This team is filled with guys who love to play the game and love to play for each other."
Blinn will open the 2019 season at Cub Stadium against Texas A&T on Saturday, Aug. 24, at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on KWHI-1280 AM.
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 41 NJCAA national championships since 1987.