‘Last Chance U’ is ‘Hoop Dreams’ of college football

Documentary filmmaker Greg Whiteley earned an Emmy nomination in 2009 for “Resolved,” his in-depth look at a high school debating team. With his acclaimed new Netflix series, “Last Chance U,” which chronicles a year in the life of a junior college football team, he could well be in contention again. “Last Chance U” is based on Drew Jubera‘s 2014 GQ article of the same name and was produced by Conde Nast Entertainment.

This six-part series, that debuted on the streaming service last July, is a fascinating look at the players that made up the 2015 East Mississippi Community College football team known as the Lions. The school in Scooba, a town of only 700 people, attracts talented players who are hoping for a chance to show off their abilities to scouts from Division 1 schools.

The EMCC Lions are looking for their fourth national championship in just five years. Whitley follows the ups and downs of the team throughout the season. We get to know them intimately and are surprised to discover their varied reasons for ending up on this rag-tag team. There are those, like running back D.J. Law, who are hoping to improve their grades to become academically eligible for four-year colleges. Others, such as quarterback John Franklin III, had played in the big leagues but were bounced and are hoping to stage comebacks.

Critics praised “Last Chance U” and Netflix renewed it for a second season, which Whiteley is working on now. While the players have changed, coach Buddy Stephens and academic advisor Brittany Wagner will feature prominently again.

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