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Perkins works on defense for All-Star Football Game

MOBILE, Ala. -Multitalented Fred Perkins of Brookhaven can playquarterback, wide receiver and defensive back. This week Perkins isworking in the defensive secondary as Mississippi prepares to meetAlabama Saturday night in the All-Star Football Classic. Kickoff is7 p.m. in Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

Perkins (6-3, 220) was a standout quarterback at BHS his senioryear. He guided the Panthers to a 7-3 record and a berth in theClass 4A state playoffs, earning him The Daily Leader’s LincolnCounty Player of the Year Award.

It was a major accomplishment for Perkins who had started attight end and wide receiver his sophomore and junior seasons atBHS. As a senior, he rushed for 875 yards and 14 touchdowns. Hethrew one touchdown pass.

Perkins was recruited by Mississippi State and Southern Miss butopted to sign with Tulane University in February. He was projectedas a wide receiver in college and planned to play baseball atTulane.

Led by head coach Mike Justice of Madison Central, the all-starsare having a busy week of practice and activities. They are beinghoused on the University of South Alabama campus.

“I’m having a real good time,” said Perkins. The Mississippiteam has received the red carpet treatment. Besides attendingmovies, watching a minor league baseball game and receiving a tourof the battleship USS Alabama, the team has visited patients at theShrine Burn Center.

Perkins said he is enjoying his duty at safety and free safety.”I’m having fun back there. We have a good group.” He’ll wearjersey No. 34 for the game.

Joining Perkins in the secondary are Clarence McDougal ofClinton, Thomas Hosey of Laurel and Rico Bennett of Brandon.

“We are all clicking together,” said Perkins. “We have goodchemistry.”

Coach Steve Cheatham of Philadelphia is coaching the Mississippisecondary. Also on Justice’s staff are Jimmy Mitchell of Corinth,Kenny Robinson of Mize, Gary Drewrey of Water Valley, Jeff Brelandof Newton County and Pete Lucovich of Carthage. Robert Morgan ofWarren Central is serving as administrative coach.

Offensively, Mississippi boasts two outstanding quarterbacks inDamarius Bilbo (6-3, 215) of Moss Point and Michael Spurlock (6-5,190) of Indianola Gentry.

“Our wide receivers are pretty good,” said Perkins. “Thequarterbacks are throwing the ball real good.”

Looking at Saturday night’s game, Perkins said it would take ateam effort to beat Alabama. “We are going to have to play hard andplay as a team, not as an individual.”

Diamond Dust

A standout in baseball, too, he batted .400 as a junior. Perkinsbatted .308 as a senior centerfielder. He was selected to play inthe Mississippi Association of Coaches Class 4A-5A All-StarBaseball Game. However, he elected to skip the game, claiming heplanned to retake the ACT last Saturday.

Perkins, a few ACT points shy of being eligible as a freshmanthis fall, changed his mind and didn’t retake the ACT.

Asked about his future plans, Perkins said he had not settled ona football career at Tulane. He said he may concentrate on baseballand attend Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

“When I get back home, I’ll make a decision,” said Perkins. “Imight go to Co-Lin to play baseball. It depends on which way I wantto go.”

Perkins was drafted in the 36th round by the Montreal Expos inlast week’s Major League Baseball Draft. The Expos retain draftrights to Perkins until next June’s draft.

All-Star notes: Representing Pike County on the Mississippisquad are offensive lineman Cornelius Stallings (6-4, 310) of SouthPike and fullback Thomas Jackson (5-7,195) of McComb. Last year,this area was represented by fullback Lorenzo Townsend, tailbackMichael Loving and defensive back Aaron Pitts of Lawrence Countyand fullback Aaron Yarborough of Brookhaven.