Sweet 16 loaded with talent

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 27, 2001

Six linemen, four running backs, three linebackers, twofullbacks, and one quarterback highlight The DailyLeader’s 2001 Sweet Sixteen list. The Sweet Sixteen showcasessouthwest Mississippi’s most wanted senior recruits and prospects,for the upcoming gridiron season.

One prospect to start with is from southern Lincoln County inBogue Chitto Bobcat lineman Ernie Johnston. Johnston stands 6-5 andweighs around 310 pounds. Mississippi State, Auburn, Tennessee,Florida, Tulane, Southern Miss, Kentucky, and Michigan have showninterest in Johnston.

Johnston has also been contacted by Fox Sports Net Count Down toSigning Day and several recruiting publications. Johnston’s coach,Carl Cole, believes Johnston has all the tools to become a truecollege player.

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“Ernie’s one of the best linemen I’ve ever coached,” said Cole.”We sent some tape of him to most of the colleges on his list, andever sense then he’s been gaining attention.”

The only real knock on Johnston has been his playingclassification. The Bobcats are in class 1A, but enter a new regionthat contains powerhouses Mize and Dexter. Many coaches believethat the new Region 4-1A will help Johnston get a better feeling ofthe next level.

Next, a Vanderbilt Commodore shows up in Parklane Pioneer centerAdam Dossett. Dossett (6-4, 265) committed to the Commodores in midJuly over Mississippi State, LSU, Southern Miss, Stanford, Army,and Tulane. Dossett also plays defensive tackle for the AcademyAAAA Pioneers.

Staying with the Pioneers, a baseball/football standout appearsin quarterback Dooley Simmons. Simmons a flashy 6-1, 185 poundpocket passer produced 1,157 yards passing last season. Simmons isalso a four year starter for the Pioneers at catcher. He’sattracted LSU and Mississippi State in baseball, while LouisianaTech, Tulane, Louisville, and Delta State approach him infootball.

As the list goes on, three Loyd Star prospects show up inlinebacker Cody Covington (6-1, 205), fullback/linebacker AdamSpeeg (6-3, 230), and wingback/defensive back DeMarcus Barnes(5-10, 170). Covington highlights the group with 137 tackles, sixsacks, and one interception as a junior last season. All three havereceived interest from various colleges, but none have been offeredscholarships.

Next a Lawrence County combination shows up in fullbackJohnathan Eley and linebacker Wayne Hardy. Eley, The DailyLeader’s All Area Offensive Player of the Year in 2000, ran for1,550 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. He’s received looks fromMississippi State, Southern Miss, LSU, Jackson State, andMississippi Valley. Eley still lacks the core ACT score beforesigning with a college.

Eley’s teammate on the other hand doesn’t have to worryabout the ACT. Wayne Hardy, a physical punishing linebacker, madean 18 on his ACT and currently holds a 3.2 GPA. Hardy will playingin a new defensive scheme this season that will showcase hisaggressive talents. LSU and USM have shown the most interest sofar.

Another southern Lincoln County product appears inEnterprise runningback Shermaine Vaughn. Vaughn rushed for over1,000 yards last season and expects to do the same this year.Vaughn’s 6-1, 210 pound frame, plus 4.53 forty speed make him anideal prospect for this upcoming season.

Moving on, three Brookhaven Panther products show up inrunning back Cornelius Allen, and linemen Rayshone Autman and KernHoff. Allen’s special blend of speed and quickness will be an assetfor coach Andrew Hickman this season. So will Autman’s size andHoff’s determination and leadership.

Next, a linebacker from Franklin County starts to roam inBulldog headhunter James Hunt. Hunt (6-2, 210) produced 110 tackleslast season for the Dawgs. Hunt will be leading a playoff hungrygroup in 2001, as he looks to build on last season’sperformance.

Staying in Region 6-3A, a Trojan from Amite County runs outin Nathan Banks. Banks a 6-0, 180 pound speedster will carry theTrojans playoffs hopes at a new position this fall at runningbackand cornerback. Banks played last season as a receiver and asafety. Banks has received looks from Ole Miss, Alabama, and LSU.He’s expected to be a two sport star in college, as a footballplayer and a track and field athlete.

Rounding out the Sweet Sixteen are two of the best offensivelinemen in the state, in Jefferson County Tiger lineman TavarasClark and Natchez standout KeJuan Bates. Clark a big 6-6, 340 poundmachine, will anchor Jefferson County this season as a offensiveand defensive tackle. Clark has received an offer from AlcornState, but hasn’t committed. LSU, Mississippi State, Memphis, andJackson State have also shown interest.

Bates also plays both ways on the line. His 6-4, 305 poundframe has attracted USM, North Carolina, Memphis, JSU, and AlcornState. Bates also includes Copiah-Lincoln Community College on hishigh list, just in case his ACT doesn’t work out.

Last year’s Sweet Sixteen netted three Division One signees.Cornellius Stallings (Ole Miss), Damien Givens (Navy), and FredPerkins (Tulane-Co-Lin Baseball) all signed. Perkins was sectededin the Major League Baseball draft in June by the Montreal Expos asa draft and follow and decided to play baseball at Co-Lin.

Four players signed Division Two scholarships and six signedwith junior colleges, off last year’s Sweet 16.



Appearing alphabetically with name, position, height,weight, school, and reported forty speed.

Cornelius Allen – RB – 5-9, 175 – Brookhaven – 4.5

Rayshone Autman – OL – 6-6, 275 – Brookhaven

Nathan Banks – RB/CB – 6-0, 180 – Amite Co. – 4.42

DeMarcus Barnes – WB/DB – 5-10, 170 – Loyd Star -4.6

KeJuan Bates – OL/DL – 6-4, 305 – Natchez – 5.35

Tavaras Clark – OL/DL – 6-6, 340 – Jefferson County

Cody Covington – LB – 6-1, 205 – Loyd Star

Adam Dossett – C/DT – 6-4, 265 – Parklane – 5.2

Johnathan Eley – FB – 6-1, 240 – Lawrence Co. – 4.6

Wayne Hardy – LB – 6-1, 215 – Lawrence Co. – 4.51

Kern Hoff – OL – 6-0, 240 – Brookhaven

James Hunt – LB – 6-2, 210 – Franklin County

Ernie Johnston – OL/DL – 6-6, 305 – Bogue Chitto -5.4

Dooley Simmions – QB – 6-1, 185 – Parklane – 4.7

Adam Speeg – FB/LB – 6-3, 230 – Loyd Star

Shermaine Vaughn – RB – 6-1, 210 – Enterprise -4.53