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Time is ripe for college recruiters

That loud rustle and bustle you hear aren’t the remnants of after-Christmas shoppers looking for 50-75 percent markdowns on assorted merchandise.

     Nope. Every creature, also known as college football recruiters, are roaming the Magnolia State from Southaven to Pascagoula and from Natchez to Meridian, plus all points in between. Like deer hunters pursuing that prized trophy, they are relentless in their quest, be it early morning or late at night.

     They smile, shake hands, exchange pleasantries with family and friends of the coveted recruit. Football fans consider it a fun experience. On the contrary, a college football program’s future depends on the success or failure of its recruiting campaigns.

     On a rainy Tuesday night, Tucker Peavey, Southwest Mississippi Community College’s new head football coach, was watching Brookhaven Academy play Dexter in John R. Gray Gymnasium. This was basketball but Peavey was interested in football players, especially BA quarterback Gage Posey, who leads his team in scoring.

     Posey, at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, is fresh from quarterbacking the Cougars to the MAIS Class AA State Championship. In that 49-40 win over Marshall Academy, Posey passed for 6 touchdowns and ran for another.

     If you like statistics, consider these eye-opening numbers. Posey passed for 3,217 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also rushed for 794 yards and 18 touchdowns. That’s an impressive 46 touchdowns for The DAILY LEADER’s overall MVP and Mr. Football on the 2012 All-Lincoln County Team.

     Posey, a southpaw like his idol Tim Tebow, also wears jersey No. 15. He, too, has been blessed with exceptional athletic ability.

     Looking at the future, Posey has indicated an interest in playing football and baseball on the collegiate level. That’s quite an undertaking but it can be accomplished. However, many college football coaches demand strict commitment from their players to the gridiron sport, 12 months a year.

     Every community/junior college in Mississippi has stopped by to visit Posey and his coach, Tripp McCarty. The 2-year schools don’t have to follow strict recruiting rules observed by NCAA members.

 

     When the MACJC  removed district recruiting restrictions from member schools in September of 2011, the scene changed instantly. We  remember Gulf Coast knocking on the doors of McComb High School and taking two talented players back to Perkinston. Gulf Coast also got players from Natchez, Jefferson County and Copiah County in the last raid.

     There was and has been much lamenting and gnashing of teeth about this open recruiting situation. Hinds head coach Gene Murphy fussed and fumed about it. The talent-rich area of Hinds, Warren and Rankin Counties were being harvested by 2-year schools all across the state.

     Athletic programs funded more generously by a large tax base could afford to hire more assistant football coaches. In Gulf Coast’s case, Steve Campbell, could keep four or five coaches at practice and send the other four out to recruit during the week.

 

     Obviously, Gulf Coast, Pearl River and East Mississippi have been the superior teams over the past decade. However, Co-Lin broke the yoke in 2012, claiming the state championship. The Wolfpack did it with last-minute comeback wins over heavily favored Gulf Coast and EMCC.

     Co-Lin head coach Glenn Davis refers to his Wolfpack as blue-collar workers. They accomplished much in a 9-3 campaign and captured the school’s first state title since 1985.

     The Co-Lin cupboard isn’t completely bare but those talented sophomores are leaving some large shoes to fill. On offense, quarterback Chandler Rogers, a 2-year starter, has departed for Arkansas State University. Running back Darius Guy and wide receivers Darren Anderson, Marquis Hayes, Devonte’ Scott and Joe Craig Jr. also have left the fold for senior colleges.

     Also departing are tight end Jamie McCardle, center Stone Underwood, tackle Preston Shelton and guards Demechery Hickingbottom, Milton King and Dontrell Day.

     Nolan Long, a 2-year veteran kicker and punter, also must be replaced, plus long-snapper Tevin Tobias.

     Returning on offense are running backs Van Lee and Kelton Smith, and wide receivers, De’Vante Nichols, Christian “Bubba” Keene, Javon Washington, Casey Gladney and tight ends Tyson McDonald and Jevarus Banks.

     In the O-line, Jack Johnson, Ryan Proctor and David Adams are expected back.

     On defense, ends Terrell Hartsfield and Jerrell Jordan are headed for  Cincinnati. Tackles Xavier  Jonathon Graham and Jonathan Haywood are graduating.

     At linebacker, Raymond Williams and Joseph Chico Martin must be replaced. The secondary will miss Milton Griffin, Jeremy Davis, Brian Isaac, Alonzo Lewis and Shamonte Brooks.

     On the bright side, Kaylen Jackson returns at safety. Chris Lyle, Fred Coleman, Greg Sims, John Stewart and Chris Richmond are returning to the secondary.

     At linebacker, look for Jordan Harris, Jymal Ellis, Jimmy Barnes and Darius Woodcock to fill empty slots.

     Coach Davis said his Christmas list was long. He needs defensive linemen and skill players on offense, plus some big linemen to provide protection for the quarterbacks, who will be untested, incoming freshmen.

     He said he was proud of his 26 sophomores, especially the 17 who graduated in December.  They’re ready for bigger and better things at the next level.

 

     Contact sports editor Tom Goetz by Email: tgoetz@dailyleader.com