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Last Chance U: the college that gives young players a final route to the NFL

When documentary director Adam Ridley went to the sleepy town of Scooba in Mississippi he expected to make a show about gifted athletes, but his Netflix series, Last Chance U, is about education, class, success and the American dream

By Jonathan Drennan for Behind the Lines, part of the Guardian Sport Network

The tiny town of Scooba sits in Kemper County in the vast state of Mississippi. Its quiet streets are home to under a thousand permanent residents and there is little excitement to be found. An isolated Subway sandwich shop is the social hub. East Mississippi Community College stands incongruously in Scooba’s streets. The college houses some of the country’s finest student American football players who dream of making the NFL. They find themselves in sleepy Scooba for two reasons: their grades aren’t up to scratch or they need more playing time to prove themselves to larger colleges. For almost all of the players on the Lions’ playing roster, this is their last chance at football redemption.

Adam Ridley was working as a film director when he came across a magazine article about a team of incredible college prodigies who were toiling on the hot fields in Scooba in search of stardom. “I read up about this team and the more I thought about it the more fascinated I became. You have these incredible high school athletes, that for whatever reason things haven’t worked out for them, whether that’s in the classroom or on the field, so they come to this tiny little town of Scooba to try and turn things around. We knew we had to do something.”

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