NEMCC Sports to honor Hall of Fame Class

Brandon Farley, Millard Lothenore, Mitch McNeely and Jerome Woods are set for enshrinement during a program in the Claude Wright Room of the Haney Union at 4 p.m. on Thursday.

Posted: Oct 2, 2018 9:41 PM

BOONEVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/NEMCC Athletics) – The Northeast Mississippi Community College Sports Hall of Fame has selected another group of distinguished individuals for its 11th annual induction ceremony.

Brandon Farley, Millard Lothenore, Mitch McNeely and Jerome Woods are set for enshrinement during a program in the Claude Wright Room of the Haney Union at 4 p.m. on Thursday, October 4.

Those four gentlemen will also be recognized prior to the 7 p.m. kickoff of the Tigers' homecoming football contest against league opponent Mississippi Delta Community College.

This tandem of dignitaries includes a Northeast coaching icon that founded and restarted two of our most successful athletic programs and three student-athletes that were each professional draft picks in their respective sports.

Tickets are on sale for this event and its accompanying meal at a cost of $15. For more information, contact the office of the vice president of student services at 662-720-7273 or by email at

Brandon Farley (Baseball, 2009; 2010)

Brandon Farley was the second member of Northeast Mississippi Community College's 2009 baseball team that was selected in the Major League Baseball (MLB) first-year player draft.

Farley was the 1,018th overall pick in the 33rd round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants following two successful seasons with the Tigers and another pair of campaigns at Arkansas State University.

He became just the fourth former Northeast standout to be drafted by a MLB affiliate. Farley followed in the footsteps of former teammate Phillip Chapman, who was taken by the Minnesota Twins one year earlier after concluding his collegiate career at the University of Memphis (Tenn.).

Farley helped the Tigers set a new program record for most victories in a single year during his freshman campaign with 33. Northeast also hosted a postseason series for the first time since 1992 after finishing as the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division runner-up.

The Cookeville, Tenn., native made himself right at home during his inaugural games in the City of Hospitality. He had four hits, including two doubles, and a sacrifice fly in the Tigers' sweep of Arkansas Baptist College on the opening day of the 2009 season.

Farley's initial appearance on the mound at Northeast went just as well. He was credited with the win as the Tigers pulled away late in harsh weather conditions to take an 11-5 triumph at Northwest-Shoals (Ala.) Community College.

His luck in the neighboring Yellowhammer State remained good during his second outing for Northeast. Farley once again was the pitcher of record in a tightly contested 3-2 victory at Calhoun (Ala.) Community College.

He played a pivotal role for the Tigers during the Warhawks' return trip to Harold T. White Field as well. Farley connected on one of his three total home runs on the season to help Northeast complete a home sweep and win the yearly series from Calhoun.

The 6-2, 200-pounder wrapped up the regular season by capturing his fifth victory in a 15-6 decision at Coahoma Community College. That tied him for the most individual wins alongside Brad Luna and Jon Andy Scott, who is currently an assistant coach for the Tigers.

Northeast lost to Jones College in its state playoff series, but Farley tried to keep his squad alive. He started a come-from-behind attempt by the Tigers in the seventh inning of game two, which was moved to Jackson's Smith-Wills Stadium due to inclement weather on the Booneville campus, with a double and later scored on a triple from Jake Mills.

Farley wielded a solid 3.32 earned run average (ERA) in 43.1 innings of work for Northeast as a freshman with only 11 walks allowed. He batted .340 offensively with 32 hits, including 13 for extra bases, with 22 RBIs.

Those numbers got even better during Farley's sophomore year. His strikeout total nearly tripled from 24 to a team-best 67 punchouts while becoming the ace of the Tigers' staff with a 2.79 ERA in 67.2 logged innings.

Farley's on-base percentage improved to .430 on the strength of 39 hits plus 16 free passes. He compiled a .351 batting average with six doubles, two triples, two home runs, 28 runs scored and 22 RBIs.

He opened his final campaign at Northeast with a statement victory on the hill versus Panola (Texas) College, which entered the matchup ranked No. 19 in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I poll. Farley had nine strikeouts and allowed only five hits in the complete game shutout of the Ponies at the Wes Cliburn Memorial Tournament in Raymond.

Farley pieced together a pair of great performances against East Mississippi Community College that year. He had a four-hit day, including a double and triple, in the nightcap at Scooba and then conceded just four hits and two runs at home to finish a four-game season sweep of the Lions.

He ended his tenure with the Tigers in the 2010 state playoffs at Hinds Community College. Farley, who garnered MACJC All-State honors for his efforts throughout the campaign, had RBI singles during both postseason contests.

Farley moved from a starting role to the bullpen for the remainder of his career on the diamond. He topped all relievers and placed fourth overall among Arkansas State's hurlers with 40 strikeouts during his senior season.

The right-handed pitcher averaged over a strikeout an inning during his two-year stint in Jonesboro, Ark., with 62 punchouts in 59.1 frames. He was a key piece in the Red Wolves' 2012 campaign that featured 34 wins and a berth to the Sun Belt Conference (SBC) Tournament championship game.

Farley was recognized as part of the National Pitching Staff of the Week following Arkansas State's SBC sweep of the University of South Alabama. He worked the eighth inning of the first two matchups of the series and did not give up a run.

He was the winning pitcher three times with the Red Wolves, including twice against Western Kentucky University. Farley also picked up saves versus Florida Atlantic University and Southern Illinois University as a junior and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock during his senior campaign.

Farley was assigned to San Francisco's rookie level affiliate in Scottsdale, Ariz., in the summer of 2012 after graduating from Arkansas State. He went 2-1 during the short season Arizona League with a sensational 1.19 ERA in 23 outings.

The Cookeville (Tenn.) High School graduate was transferred to the Class A level in Augusta, Ga., following spring training in 2013. He lifted the GreenJackets to the South Atlantic League (SAL) Southern Division championship with a 4-4 record in 28 appearances with 39 strikeouts compared to 23 walks.

Farley retired from professional baseball after splitting time between Arizona and Augusta in 2014. He was 1-1 with four saves and a 4.45 ERA in 22 games during his last year as a member of the Giants organization.

His final Minor League Baseball (MiLB) statistics include a 7-6 overall record with five saves in 108.2 frames of action. Farley was used as a reliever in 73 contests with 90 strikeouts, 40 walks and a stellar walks plus hits per innings pitched (WHIP) of 1.44.

Millard Lothenore (Head Women's Basketball Coach 1973-76, 1979-81; Head Softball Coach 1982-89; Head Men's and Women's Tennis Coach 1990-96)

Millard Lothenore holds the distinction of being the only individual in the rich history of the Northeast Mississippi Community College athletic department to hold the title of head coach over four different sports programs.

Lothenore first entered into the athletic realm in the fall of 1973 at the request of legendary athletic director and coach Bonner Arnold. He was tasked with putting together a women's basketball team at Northeast for the first time in 17 years.

Women's basketball was discontinued as an intercollegiate sport by each of the two-year colleges across the state after the 1954-55 season. Lothenore's outstanding work set the stage for a combined 30 national, regional, state and division championships that have followed in the decades since its reestablishment.

He constructed a 13-member roster comprised solely of ladies from Northeast's local five-county district for that initial season. The Tigerettes as they were called then won their first game back from the hiatus at Meridian Community College on November 6, 1973 by a score of 58-53.

Northeast also defeated Meridian in its inaugural home contest one week later by a 53-44 margin. The Tigerettes started the year on a six-game winning streak that included a 60-57 triumph over Northwest Mississippi Community College.

Janie Ham and Sue Love were selected to the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) All-State team from Lothenore's first squad. The Tigerettes also bested Mississippi State University during the 1973-74 campaign.

Northeast won a second consecutive season opener with a 77-60 decision over Blue Mountain College to begin its 1974-75 slate of games. The Tigerettes went on to beat the neighboring Lady Toppers a second time in January and took an impressive 43-point victory from Jackson State (Tenn.) Community College as well.

Lothenore is also the only person in school history to serve as a head coach of the same sports program in two separate stints. His initial duties with the Tigerettes ended in the spring of 1976 when fellow Northeast Sports Hall of Famer Jim Lamb took control of the team.

However, Lothenore returned to the Lady Tigers and ironically replaced Lamb prior to the 1979-80 campaign. He instructed Northeast for two additional years before Ricky Ford began his storied hall of fame career in 1981.

Lothenore accepted the position of assistant athletic director shortly after leaving the women's basketball team and embarked on yet another ambitious task. He started Northeast's softball program from scratch in 1982.

His inaugural team, which played against slow-pitch competition, compiled an 11-13 record. The Tigers swept Itawamba Community College in their first-ever doubleheader and later took games from four-year institutions such as Blue Mountain and the University of North Alabama.

Northeast wrapped up its initial season under Lothenore at the MACJC State Tournament. The Tigers went 2-2 in the event with triumphs over Copiah-Lincoln Community College and Pearl River Community College.

Lothenore's Tigers made history in just their second year of existence by capturing the 1983 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 23 Tournament championship in Meridian.

Northeast by virtue of its regional title clinched a berth to the NJCAA National Tournament, which was held that year in Cullman, Ala. The Tigers ended that campaign with a stellar 24-7 record.

Lothenore and the Tigers continued their success by winning back-to-back MACJC North Division championships from 1984-85. Northeast went a combined 36-15 during that two-year period.

Softball was temporarily disbanded at Northeast following the 1989 season. Lothenore transitioned to another sport one year later and took over the tennis program from Northeast Sports Hall of Fame instructor Emma Braddock.

Lothenore once again found instant success in his new post. Northeast finished as both the state and regional runner-up to secure a spot in the NJCAA National Tournament.

The women's duo of Jodi Dansereau and Kathi Merwin won two consecutive state and regional titles while under the watch of Lothenore. The duo qualified for the NJCAA National Tournament in Tyler, Texas, and had an impressive 23-3 record over their pair of seasons together.

Lothenore oversaw changes in the tennis program from a co-ed squad to separate men's and women's teams in 1994. Shannon Stevens represented the Lady Tigers that year by reaching the number three singles title match at the MACJC State Tournament.

The men's unit had two straight phenomenal campaigns from 1995-96 with 21 wins compared to just six losses in that stretch. Chris Austin and Brandon Hankins capped the magnificent run by the Tigers with a number two doubles state championship.

He relinquished his role with the tennis programs in 1996 and at the same time concluded 20 years of coaching between the four sports. Lothenore remained at Northeast as a member of the health and physical education department until his retirement in 2003.

Lothenore earned an Associate's degree from Northeast, Bachelor's degree at Mississippi State and a Master's degree from the University of North Carolina. He also served our country in the United States Marine Corps.

Mitch McNeely (Baseball, 1993; 1994)

Mitch McNeely ended an over 25-year drought between Major League Baseball (MLB) Draft selections that hailed from the Northeast Mississippi Community College baseball program.

McNeely was the 835th overall pick in the 30th round of the 1995 MLB first-year player draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers organization following two seasons with the Tigers and another at Centenary College of Louisiana.

He remains the earliest Northeast alumnus drafted by round in school history. Benny Haynie still holds the mark for lowest pick after being chosen 701st by the St. Louis Cardinals franchise in the 1967 MLB Draft.

McNeely started his journey to the professional ranks on the Booneville campus in the spring of 1993. He was part of a squad that was victorious in 16 total games, including 12 of its initial 20 outings on the season.

The New Albany native became the ace of a pitching staff that accumulated 175 strikeouts as a whole during his sophomore campaign. McNeely paced that effort as the Tigers' punchout, innings pitched and earned run average (ERA) leader.

McNeely drew the opening day start for Northeast and tossed a gem against the now-defunct Mary Holmes College. He went the distance for the Tigers with 13 strikeouts in a 7-0 shutout of the Eagles at Harold T. White Field.

He and the Tigers went on to secure doubleheader sweeps that year against Coahoma Community College, Jackson State (Tenn.) Community College, Northwest Mississippi Community College and Spoon River (Ill.) College.

McNeely compiled a 6-4 record with a sensational 2.00 earned run average (ERA) during the 1994 campaign while consistently improving under the careful watch of fellow Northeast Sports Hall of Famer Ray Scott.

He signed a scholarship with Centenary, which at the time competed in NCAA Division I as a member of the Trans-America Athletic Conference (now known as the Atlantic Sun Conference), following his final season in the City of Hospitality.

McNeely helped the Gents, who were coached by Wayne Rathbun, capture 23 wins overall and piece together a 14-13 ledger versus TAAC foes during his lone year at the Shreveport, La., based institution.

He faced some of the best competition in the country while at Centenary, including 1994 NCAA College World Series participant Louisiana State University (LSU) of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) plus the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

The W.P. Daniel High School graduate played ball across the nation during his three-year stint in the Dodgers farm system. McNeely worked primarily as a reliever for Los Angeles with just five starts in 79 total appearances.

He reported to Yakima, Wash., which is more than two hours southeast of suburban Seattle, after signing his professional contract in the summer of 1995 to play in the short-season Class A Northwest League.

The 6-6, 190-pound left-hander logged 53 innings for Yakima while notching 31 strikeouts compared to 15 walks. McNeely tallied a career-best three wins for the Bears with one save in 24 games on the mound.

McNeely was promoted to a Class A-Advanced affiliate of Los Angeles following the 1996 spring training session. He made his home in the Sunshine State as a member of the Vero Beach Dodgers, which played their contests at the historic Dodgertown complex.

He had perhaps his greatest year in the minors at Vero Beach with a 1-1 record and a stellar 2.08 ERA in 23 outings. McNeely had the second lowest walks plus hits per innings pitched (WHIP) among the Dodgers' regulars with an outstanding 0.92.

His 34 strikeouts and 11 earned runs allowed were both career-best marks for a single season at one location. McNeely did not balk nor have a wild pitch during 47.2 frames toeing the rubber for Vero Beach.

McNeely split time between Vero Beach and another Class-A Advanced team in San Bernardino, Calif., during the 1997 campaign. He registered 66.1 innings between the two cross-country teams in a career-high 32 appearances.

He had a majority of his success that year with Vero Beach. McNeely was 1-1 with a pair of saves to go with 15 punchouts, seven free passes, 36 hits and a 1.59 WHIP while with the Dodgers of the Florida State League.

McNeely retired from professional baseball after the 1997 season. His final Minor League Baseball (MiLB) statistics include a 6-9 record, five saves, 108 strikeouts, 54 walks and a 4.58 ERA in 168 innings between the three teams.

Jerome Woods (Football, 1992; 1993)

Jerome Woods may have the best career of any former Northeast Mississippi Community College football player that reached the professional ranks.

Woods was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs franchise with the 28th overall pick in the opening round of the 1996 National Football League (NFL) Draft following a pair of stellar seasons at the University of Memphis (Tenn.).

He appeared in all 16 games for the Chiefs as a rookie and made six tackles along with one forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Woods made a much greater impact as a kickoff returner during his inaugural year with Kansas City.

Woods had 25 returns for 581 yards with a season-long of 66 yards. He compiled two 100-plus yard performances, including during his NFL debut inside the historic Astrodome against the Houston Oilers.

The Memphis, Tenn., product moved into a starting role at free safety during the 1997 campaign. Woods started to show just how talented he could be by setting career-highs of four interceptions and six forced turnovers overall.

The 6-3, 205-pounder was recognized as the American Football Conference (AFC) Defensive Player of the Week for the only time in his career following the Chiefs' week five triumph over Seattle in overtime.

Woods setup Kansas City's game winning drive in the extra session by intercepting Seahawks quarterback Warren Moon and returning it 13 yards to midfield. He also had eight takedowns and one sack in the 20-17 win by the Chiefs.

He was also picked later that season as the AFC Defensive Player of the Month for November after guiding Kansas City to a 4-1 record with key wins over Denver, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Seattle.

Woods had 30 tackles during that five-game stretch by the Chiefs and also accounted for two turnovers. He had an interception that led to the winning score against the Steelers and then picked up a fumble inside the legendary Kingdome versus the Seahawks.

He made his initial postseason appearance during the 1998 AFC Divisional Round. Woods recorded four stops, including a strip sack of future Pro Football Hall of Famer John Elway right before halftime that Kansas City recovered, in a heartbreaking 14-10 loss to the Broncos inside Arrowhead Stadium.

Woods started in 79 consecutive contests as a defensive back for the Chiefs over a five-year period from 1997-2001. He racked up 415 tackles with eight interceptions, seven forced fumbles and three sacks during the heart of his tenure in Kansas City.

The Melrose (Tenn.) High School graduate missed the entire 2002 campaign with an injury that threatened to end his career. But Woods returned to the Chiefs better than ever one year later.

Woods reclaimed his spot in Kansas City's lineup and posted 76 takedowns, including 58 solo tackles, with a career-high 11 pass break ups plus four forced turnovers to earn his first-ever selection to the Pro Bowl.

He had three interceptions that season, including two that were returned for touchdowns during the Chiefs' victories over the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers.

Woods' two non-offensive touchdowns were the fourth most in the NFL while his 125 total interception return yards ranked as the ninth highest for the 2003 campaign.

His 79-yard pick-six off another eventual Pro Football Hall of Famer and Mississippi native in Brett Favre inside Lambeau Field was the sixth longest interception return of the entire year in the NFL.

Woods and the Chiefs captured the 2003 AFC West Division title and welcomed Indianapolis for a 2004 AFC Divisional Round matchup. He accumulated six tackles in a heartbreaking 38-31 loss to the Colts in what turned out to be his final playoff contest.

He travelled to Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii, for the 2004 Pro Bowl less than a month after the postseason defeat. Woods participated in the highest scoring NFL all-star game of all-time, which was won by the National Football Conference (NFC) 55-52, and tallied two tackles.

Woods made 17 more outings over the next two years with 43 additional tackles, one sack and a forced fumble to his credit. He eventually retired from professional football after the 2005 season.

His final statistics over nine campaigns with Kansas City include 540 total tackles, which averages to 4.2 per game, 16 pass break ups, 15 interceptions, 11 forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and five sacks.

Woods was a three-way tool that saw time offensively, defensively and on special teams while at Northeast from 1992-93. He caught a 46-yard pass to get the Tigers into the red zone late in his very first collegiate contest at Pearl River Community College.

He fielded a punt at Coahoma Community College and raced 62 yards for a touchdown to cap a 42-0 Northeast victory just two weeks later. Woods concluded his freshman year with an interception versus Mississippi Delta Community College.

Woods improved tremendously during his sophomore campaign and garnered Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) All-State first-team recognition. He finished third in the league with 77 tackles and also averaged 17.8 yards per kickoff return.

He was a factor for the Tigers offensively for a second consecutive season versus Pearl River with a five-yard scoring reception from quarterback Herman Taylor. Woods added the initial two-interception showing of his career in a win over Coahoma.

Woods showed out during his last regular season game at Tiger Stadium with 13 tackles against Mississippi Delta. He made one last outing on the Booneville campus as part of the 20th annual MACJC All-Star Football Classic.

He was an explosive athlete during his two-year stint at Memphis. Woods totaled 219 tackles, including 120 during a senior campaign in which he was the Independent Defensive Player of the Year and the Football News All-American second-team.

Woods paced the Tigers during his All-American season of 1995 with a team-high six interceptions. He posted a career-best 19 tackles in a 17-16 triumph by Memphis at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) as a junior and one game later had 18 stops at the University of Tennessee.

The Tigers' defense with Woods leading the way was eighth nationally in 1994 with just 14.5 points allowed per game. He was inducted into the Memphis M-Club Hall of Fame in 2009.

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