SCOOBA, Miss. – East Mississippi Community College, in conjunction with the world's leading internet television provider, Netflix, has confirmed that the ground-breaking documentary series "Last Chance U" will be renewed for a second season, it was announced Monday.
The series has received critical acclaim since its release on July 29, 2016, and has been featured in Entertainment Weekly, Star Magazine and TV Guide. Articles about "Last Chance U" have also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the New York Daily News, the New York Times and the Washington Post.
"We didn't make this decision lightly. While the response has been international in scope, encouraging, and positive, we are sensitive to how projects like this impact our work," said EMCC President Dr. Thomas Huebner.
"Ultimately, though, the chance to share our story — to highlight the excellent work that takes place in the classrooms and playing fields of EMCC — was one we didn't want to miss. We are faithful to our mission and are grateful to showcase the efforts of passionate educators who embrace their roles as agents of change."
Greg Whiteley will continue as director of the first original sports documentary series on Netflix, with head coach Buddy Stephens and academic advisor Brittany Wagner coming back as well. Gone are series regulars John Franklin III (Auburn), D.J. Law (UAB), Ronald Ollie (Nicholls State) and Wyatt Roberts (Mississippi State), who are all continuing their careers at the NCAA Division I level.
"We are thrilled to continue our relationship with Greg Whiteley, who has genuinely captured both the struggles and triumphs these young men face in a world that often seems designed to hold them back," said Lisa Nishimura, Netflix VP of Original Documentary Programming.
Inspired by a feature article in GQ magazine, "Last Chance U" follows the stories of elite athletes in tough life circumstances who struggle to find redemption on a champion junior college football team and hopefully realize their dreams of competing at the next level.
"Last Chance U" season two will follow the next group of young men training to become future stars of the NFL. Under Coach Stephens, who has guided the junior college to multiple national championships, EMCC graduates more than 20 players per year into football scholarships at four-year universities, and nine of his former players were on NFL rosters heading into the start of training camps.
"We have a tremendous platform for growth and a tremendous platform from which to teach from and those are the things that the series brought to us," said Stephens.
"The show told a lot more of the story than what appeared on the scoreboard and what appeared on Thursdays and Saturdays. That's something that people don't normally get to know about. The great thing about it is we have great kids and great people at our college and it really opened it up for people to get to see that."
For Dr. Randall Bradberry, a 34-year veteran of Mississippi's community college system and current director of athletics for EMCC, the series shows what the school can do for all students, not just student-athletes.
"'Last Chance U' is good for our school. It's given people across the nation an idea of what we're trying to do for students. At a small campus like EMCC, every experience, both inside and outside the classroom, provides us all with opportunities to teach and learn," Bradberry said.
The Lions will open the 2016 season on Sept. 1, when they travel to Ellisville, Miss., to take on Jones County Junior College in the season opener for both teams. Fans can watch live via the internet by going to www.EMCCAthletics.com/live and it can also be heard on WFCA radio out of French Camp, Miss., with Jason Crowder providing the play-by-play once again for the Lions.
"Last Chance U" is a Netflix production in association with Condé Nast Entertainment, Endgame Entertainment and One Potato Productions.