‘Last Chance U’ offers glimpse into world of community college football

Posted on Jul 28 2016 - 7:00am by Lana Ferguson

“Last Chance U” will provide a much-needed college football fix to hold you over until Ole Miss kicks off its season. That’s in 39 days, by the way.

Netflix’s latest docu-series covering East Mississippi Community College’s football program in Scooba is premiering July 29. The Daily Mississippian got exclusive early access to the first two episodes of the six-episode series.

The series follows the latest recruits at EMCC, where they’re joining an undefeated team with three consecutive National Championship titles. EMCC is at the top of junior college sports, reeling in athletes from across the nation, including star players that have been held back because of academics or behavior issues — including our own Bo Wallace and Chad Kelly, among other Ole Miss stars past and current.

EMCC graduates players each year to four-year universities with football scholarships, including Division 1 schools; nine players are currently playing in the NFL.

If you weren’t already having withdrawals from the Grove and Ole Miss football, Chad Kelly makes an appearance in the second episode. He calls EMCC coach Buddy Stephens to say he’s been chosen as Ole Miss’ starting quarterback for the 2015 season. It’s a candid moment you otherwise wouldn’t see of Kelly and pulls at the heartstrings.

“Last Chance U” doesn’t solely show the victories and challenges on the field but also shows everything else happening outside of the Thursday night lights, making it relatable.

You see the players struggling to wake up in the mornings for classes, working hard to pass tests and the social life in between.

You grow to love the characters, who are all very different. Outside of the big-personality players, there’s coach Stephens, who reminds you of the quirky gym teacher everyone loved in middle school, the Athletic Academic Advisor Brittany Wagner, who gives the players tough love, and even passionate EMCC fans in the stands. The man with the bucket hat, who makes a lot of appearances in the second episode, is my personal favorite thus far. Keep an eye out for him – his passionate cheering is hard to miss.

I recommend the show to everyone even remotely interested in football or are looking for something good to binge-watch on Netflix this weekend because you were going to do it anyways, or you like well-done documentaries. Think the show “Friday Night Lights” but way better and raw.

By the second episode, I already found myself invested in the people on the show and rooting for EMCC to win. The documentary format makes the show so much better than other dramatized football movies or shows. The end of each episode leaves you wanting to know what happens to your newest favorite team next, whether they’ll keep the undefeated streak going, if someone will get recruited by a D1 school or what shenanigans they’re getting into between practices.

GQ wrote the article “Last Chance U” about EMCC’s football program in 2014, a year before this docu-series began filming. They opened the article calling Mississippi’s junior college football leagues “the weirdest, wildest, most off-the-grid league in America.”

Who wouldn’t want to watch a show about that happening in your own backyard? Go Lions, and thanks for Bo and Chad.

– Lana Ferguson