College coaches hunting for prize football players

Published 6:00 am Thursday, December 6, 2001

Hunting season is upon us. Besides ducks, deer, squirrel andrabbit, there’s some intense big game hunting on high school andjunior college campuses these days. College coaches are scramblingto recruit the top prospects.

It’s a matter of meeting the prospect and then his parents orguardian. This is a serious time and coaches must make wise choicesas they attempt to fill their wish lists. Players must have thestandard ACT score to be eligible for in-person recruiting, plus acumulative grade-point average.

Bubba might stand 6-foot-4, weigh 250 pounds, run the 40-yarddash in a blazing 4.3 and bench press 400 pounds. Unfortunately, ifBubba hasn’t applied himself in the classroom, his college footballfuture is speculative at best.

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Starting in junior high school, student-athletes must applythemselves in the classroom and develop strong study habits.Otherwise, they’ll be sitting on the couch watching games onSaturday afternoon instead of playing in them.

Ole Miss head football coach David Cutcliffe visited theBrookhaven area Tuesday. He flew in on a Cessna twin-engine jet,complete with two pilots wearing red Ole Miss golf shirts. AlthoughCutcliffe is not allowed to discuss his recruiting list ofprospects due to NCAA rules, informed sources report that he was onthe Copiah-Lincoln Community College campus to meet defensive backOdell Bradley and linebacker Ken Bournes.

Obviously, Ole Miss aches for immediate help on defense. TheRebels are in desperate need of defensive linemen, linebackers andsecondary folks who can tackle and hang on tight.

Bradley (6-0, 180), from Hermanville; and Bournes (6-2, 255),from Monticello; are both outstanding prospects. Bradley led theMississippi Association of Community/Junior Colleges with nineinterceptions and was named the South Division’s Most ValuableDefensive Back. He also had 42 solo tackles and a fumble recovery,plus 6 pass break-ups.

Bournes was the third leading tackler in the conference, making97 stops. He also had four quarterback sacks and a passinterception.

Ole Miss claims some good players from this area. Cutcliffealready has super sophomore wide receiver Chris Collins of Glosterplus his brother, Clifton Collins, a junior college defensive backfrom Southwest in Summit. Another promising prospect is Ole Missfreshman lineman Tre’ Stallings (6-5, 300) of South Pike.

Bradley intercepted two passes in last Saturday’s MACJC All-StarGame at Northeast in Booneville, raising his stock a little higher.Bournes has a recruiting visit at the University of South Carolinascheduled for January.

Linebacker Daniel Gawronski, offensive lineman Tim Baker anddefensive backs Sidney Wiley and Aaron Pitts are among the bestCo-Lin prospects this recruiting season.

On the high school level, coaches have visited Bogue Chittoseveral times. The top prospects are offensive lineman ErnieJohnston, running back Domenick Addison and linebacker JohnWallace.

At Enterprise, tailback/linebacker Shermaine Vaughn is expectedto play football at the college level. It’s just a matter ofwhere.

At Loyd Star, tailback/cornerback Derrick Johnson, linebackerCody Covington, fullback Adam Speeg and defensive back DemarcusBarnes have received some inquiries from college coaches.

At Brookhaven, quarterback Billy Williams has drawn the interestof Co-Lin, mainly for his athletic ability. Offensive lineman KernHoff could wind up playing for a small college like Belhaven,Millsaps and Mississippi College.

At Brookhaven Academy, all-star offensive lineman Jarad Hall isthe top prospect.

At Lawrence County, tailback Wayne Hardy already has made averbal commitment to sign with the University of SouthernMississippi in February. Hardy, the leading tackler on defense,appears to have a bright future ahead of him. Fullback JonathanEley and wide receiver Jason Snell could wind up at Co-Lin.

At Franklin County, linebacker James Hunt is drawing the mostinterest from colleges.

At Wesson, tailback/linebacker Billy Ray Miller should sign withCo-Lin. He led the Cobras in rushing and in tackles.

This should be considered the best-ever year for high schoolfootball in Lincoln County. Loyd Star (11-3), Bogue Chitto (11-2)and Brookhaven Academy (11-2) realized their greatest campaigns.Enterprise (8-4) and Brookhaven (5-5) also advanced to the stateplayoffs but made early exits.

Loyd Star’s Hornets lost a hard-fought 32-20 decision atGulfport St. John in the South State Class 2A state title game lastFriday. Win or lose in the championship game against Ackerman, St.John appears headed for probation because of using an ineligibleplayer, senior linebacker Benny Casper, on its roster.

Casper’s grandmother, Kathleen Casper, has been renewing aweekly court injunction against the Mississippi High SchoolActivities Association, to keep him eligible. Casper (6-3, 240) isa tough middle linebacker who was kicked off the Gulfport High teamand then transferred to St. John. The MHSAA requires transfers frompublic to parochial schools to sit out one year.

Many coaches and schools are highly upset by St. John’s brazenuse of Casper. The MHSAA attempts to run a tight ship and mostschools try to play by the rules. After last Friday’s game, theLoyd Star fans were calling St. John the “Illegal Eagles.”