Appreciation for a county full of ‘exceptional programs’

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Pearl River Community College Head Coach David Saunders gives instructions during spring practice at Poplarville.

Pearl River Community College Head Coach David Saunders gives instructions during spring practice at Poplarville.

During last week’s meet and greet with the head football coaches of Pearl River County, Pearl River Community College Head Football Coach David Saunders talked about his gratitude for what the high school coaches are doing to prepare student-athletes for the collegiate level.

“It’s really simple to say what is special that’s going on at PRCC. It’s the fact that we have the opportunity to coach all these young men that were in these amazing high school programs,” Saunders said. “It’s extremely exciting for us and we want to make the community proud.”

With about one out of every nine players on the PRCC football roster being from either Picayune Memorial, Pearl River Central or Poplarville high schools, Saunders find great pride in coaching these local athletes who have an understanding of their ethics and traditions.

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“When I come watch these kids compete in high school, it’s an amazing atmosphere. I walk into the stadium and see a lot of people and no empty seats. You couldn’t even find a spot along the fence. People are having a fantastic time while an amazing contest is happening on the field. I love these traditions and the competitive programs these kids come out of,” Saunders said.

Saunders is familiar with the head coaches and the values they instill in each of their student-athletes. He said they come into PRCC with a great knowledge of football and a competitive drive to continue escalating from level to level.

“There are competitive players every where you look in these programs. That’s what is exciting for us right now. We have that right here in the county and we are going to reestablish that as the district,” Saunders said.

In an effort to better understand potential PRCC football players, recruiters don’t just speak to the student’s coaches and families, but also their teachers, administrators and people in the communities.

He said that his priority as a coach is the student-athletes and his expectations for them that extend further than just on the football field.

“We had 83 student-athletes on campus this summer taking classes. With established expectations for them to go to class and go on time, we got a great result. As a whole, they earned 676 college credits with a cumulative grade point average of 3.24. I’m extremely excited about that because one of the things we challenged them with was to be great on and off the field,” Saunders said.

In an effort to motivate his team, he told them about the winningest college in the past four years, Ohio State University. OSU has won the most games in any four-year span than any other college in history. Also, in the 2016 NFL Draft, OSU had the most players drafted from a single team in the history of the draft. Along with those statistics, Saunders said OSU also had the highest graduation rate in their history of the program, correlating that to his players at PRCC about the importance of school and how “being an athlete is more than what you do on the field.”