If you’re a frequenter of Netflix or the college football corner of the internet, you’re doubtlessly familiar with this year’s Netflix documentary Last Chance U. Even if not, if you’re a diehard Southern football fan, maybe you’ve heard of the show’s subject, East Mississippi Community College, a junior college in Scooba, Miss.
We’re fans of this show. It’s a six-hour examination of the ups and downs that come with playing for a dominant JUCO program. JUCO is where players go to handle off-field business, perform on the field, and ideally get a shot to play at a Division I school.
EMCC has had a lot of talent over the years, and it’s turned out that three recent Lions quarterbacks are currently in the SEC. Their roles are drastically different, but with two of their teams playing each other this weekend, there’s no time like the present to:
- Watch the show, and
- Talk about some EMCC quarterbacks.
Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly is the best of the bunch.
Kelly started his college career at Clemson, where he redshirted in 2012 and played sparingly in 2013. He left Clemson for a JUCO stint at EMCC in the 2014 season, where he threw for 3,906 yards and 47 touchdowns, won a national championship, and emerged as a four-star prospect.
He signed with Ole Miss before 2015, had a hugely prolific junior season, and is now arguably the SEC’s best quarterback in his senior year.
Kelly entered Ole Miss’ bye week with almost 1,600 yards and 13 touchdown passes.
Mississippi State’s Wyatt Roberts doesn’t play, but hey, he made it.
Roberts was the surprising starting QB for EMCC during Season 1 of Last Chance U, beating out a more athletic counterpart to lead the Lions’ offense. He had a great year, throwing 23 touchdowns against two interceptions and completing 65 percent of his passes.
When the show ended, Roberts didn’t have a football future set in stone. In a conversation with EMCC’s academic advisor, he seemed content with going to Mississippi State as a regular student instead of playing lower-division football offer.
But things have worked out. Roberts joined the Bulldogs in August in order to try and build toward a coaching career. He isn’t likely to ever see game action, but he’s on an SEC roster and going to the school he wanted to go to during the show. That’s great!
Auburn’s John Franklin III hasn't lived up to hype, but he plays a role.
Franklin originally signed with Florida State and played there as a backup in 2014. But Franklin was never going to get a chance to be a starting QB in Tallahassee, so he left for a year at EMCC, which coincided in 2015 with Netflix’s Last Chance U filming.
It turned out to be a weird year. Franklin, a running QB by trade, wasn’t even the Lions’ starter quarterback, instead sitting for most of the year behind a steadier but less skilled drop-back passer, Roberts.
When Roberts got hurt, Franklin came off the bench to run for a bunch of touchdowns and lead EMCC to a 48-0 halftime lead against Mississippi Delta. The game (and EMCC’s season) ended when it devolved into a brutal brawl just before halftime, but Franklin’s work got him an Auburn scholarship offer, where he was eventually expected to start.
Now, Franklin is Sean White’s backup at Auburn. He’s run 16 times for 203 yards in a touchdown, and he’s 6-of-10 passing for 73 yards and another touchdown. He’s appeared off the bench in each of the Tigers’ five games.
This week, Franklin and Roberts meet up again.
Auburn plays Mississippi State on Saturday (noon ET, SEC Network), so Franklin and Roberts will be competing against each other again, sort of. Roberts won’t play and Franklin won’t start, but they’ll both at least be involved. (It’s a home game for Mississippi State, so there’s no travel roster concern about Roberts being there.)
For two players who we just watched on Netflix dreaming of appearing in the big leagues, it’s kind of cool to see both of them doing it.
UPDATE: Academic advisor Brittany Wagner reunited with Franklin pregame. Neither QB saw the field in the 38-14 Auburn victory.
Photos: Watch as Brittany Wagner hugs John Franklin III; @LastChanceU stars, including MSU QB Wyatt Roberts, reunite https://t.co/YauBAZWXFE pic.twitter.com/EgRcflxUTX— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) October 8, 2016