France’s Jeffrey M’ba re-emerging as a top prospect at “Last Chance U”

Independence Kansas is known for two things…. barbeque and football. Almost as alluring as a beef brisket is the area’s scintillating junior college football scene, as the Independence Community College Pirates are one of the country’s most talented squads. The Pirates were of course made famous in 2018 and 2019 as Netflix featured them for two seasons on the hit series “Last Chance U”.

This year, one player making the most of his junior college chance is international student Jeffrey M’ba. Originally from the Congo, but raised in Pessac, France, M’ba stands out on and off the field in small-town Kansas. The 6’6″, 305 pound defensive tackle has been one of the keys to the Pirates defense racking up 34 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, two sacks, and a big man touchdown worth watching.

The former French national team player’s talent has been hard to miss. M’ba has shot up the rankings and is currently rated as one of the top junior college prospects in the country. For the highly recruited M’ba taking a chance on himself at the junior college level has paid off.

“When I came here I understood my abilities. But I need to understand the whole play. Now if I go to college I won’t be lost. I understand more about football. If I didn’t come here I would’ve gone to college and been lost. Juco is what has helped me in this process, and I feel confident because of it. “

M’ba on the bench Photo Kobi Russom

However, the young man’s college football journey hasn’t been without bumps in the road. Back in 2018, M’ba was rated as a four-star high school prospect with major offers from programs such as Florida, Florida State, Tennesse, Rutgers, and others. The Frenchman committed to the University of Virginia in the spring of 2019. However, transcript and SAT problems ended his Cavalier career before it started. Mb’a sheds light on his complicated recruiting experience in Charlottesville.

“I reclassified myself in the class of 2020. I was planning to do another year to get good grades and improve my SAT. That’s when I was getting big offers at that time, because the coaches knew I had another year to improve. Then I went to UVA for a junior day. They told me I could go to the school that summer”.

However, the University of Virginia’s high academic standards made things difficult for the French exchange student.

“I was glad I didn’t need to do another year, I was excited. But what happened was I needed a higher SAT and other paperwork. It’s a high academic school. So I thought junior college was the best route for me after that.”

Soon thereafter the long-armed defensive tackle was back in France playing for his hometown Pionniers de Touraine in the country’s second division. Small crowds and minimal scouting left M’ba wondering what his next step was. Fortunately for him, Kansas was calling:

“When I was in France, this was a year where I did nothing. I just hung out with friends and family.  I was like yeah I need to go back to America, I need to get back to playing football, without it, I feel lost. I knew I would get the chance. I talked to a lot of Juco’s. I talked to independence and I thought it was best for me.”

M’ba in uniform for France’s national team

After one year in the Jayhawk state M’ba is back on top of prospect boards racking up dozens of offers from powerhouse programs. Independence’s European ambassador recently escaped the plains of Kansas for an official visit at the University of Miami. The Hurricanes are one of many suitors as Tennessee, Florida, Oregon, Nebraska, USC, and Michigan to name a few. The European prospect is for his experience at the junior college level:

“I feel like junior college is the best way for a European guy to go where he wants to go. If he goes to high school maybe he won’t end up in the right situation and he won’t be ready. But if you go to juco and play the college’s will really want you. They can show what they can do.”

Now the top prospect and his fellow Independence Pirates look to make a run in the Kansas junior college playoffs. M’ba is scheduled to graduate from the community college in December opening the door for him to join a powerhouse program in early 2022 with three years of eligibility. Expect the highly touted international prospect to keep turning heads once he finally reaches the division one level.

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football