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Former NHS athlete signs with Ole Miss

WESSON — One of the great rewards of the junior college system is that it gives football players a second chance at living their dream.

And former Natchez High standout Wesley Pendleton is taking advantage of that chance.

After a sophomore season at Copiah-Lincoln Community College that saw him perform as one of the best junior college cornerbacks in the state, Pendleton signed a scholarship to play football at Ole Miss next season.

It was a reward that was richly deserved, Co-Lin head football coach Glenn Davis said.

“We’re tickled to death about it,” Davis said. “I’m really proud for Wesley. He came a long way from high school to this point. I’m very excited for him getting a chance to play in the SEC.”

Pendleton earned first team All-State honors and was named the state’s most valuable defensive back in 2010 after a season in which he posted 28 tackles, 11 pass breakups and three interceptions as a cornerback for the Wolves.

Davis said Pendleton has always been blessed with tremendous speed, but has worked on his physicality in his two years at Co-Lin.

“His speed helps him be a great cover guy, but he has become more physical as a tackler,” Davis said. “Being physical and tackling weren’t his strong suits when he first got here, but he has worked hard on that and gotten much better.”

But Davis said Pendleton’s biggest improvement wasn’t on the field, but off.

“Wesley has become more consistent with the things he’s done in his life,” Davis said. “He’s grown up a lot. It has been really fun to see him grow. He has come a long ways.”

And Pendleton’s high school coach at Natchez High, Lance Reed, also sees the improvement his former player has made.

“Wesley has come a long way as a player, and I’m very proud of what he’s created for himself by going over to Co-Lin and developing into a premier defensive back,” Reed said. “Coach Davis and his staff really do a great job of developing players once they leave the high school level, and Wesley really took advantage of his opportunities.”

Pendleton wasn’t the only former area player at Co-Lin to sign with a four-year college on Wednesday.

Former Franklin County standout and Co-Lin linebacker Jordan Hunt signed with Florida International while offensive lineman Larry Banks, a Jefferson County product, signed with Louisiana Tech.

“Jordan has been a playmaker for us at linebacker since he’s been here,” Davis said. “He has been an inside (linebacker) and we moved him outside at times to get him in space. He’s an athletic guy who has really blossomed here.”

Banks also enjoyed a solid career at Co-Lin and is being rewarded with a scholarship to a four-year school.

“Larry has played his way into where he’s at,” Davis said. “He’s a big, athletic guy and had a great year for us. He’s great at pass protection and has gotten better as a run blocker.”

Davis said the junior college system helped players like Pendleton, Hunt and Banks get an elusive Division I scholarship.

“They could have gone to a SWAC school or Division 1AA, but this was a great opportunity for them to come in and play their way up and give themselves a chance to be more recruited and more prepared than they were out of high school,” Davis said. “It worked out well for them.”

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