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Poole joins Southern Miss; Wells signs with Miss. State

JaBoree Poole smiled brightly for the photographers. The Brookhaven High senior defensive end was surrounded by his family as he prepared to make his official signature on scholarship papers provided by Southern Miss.

Meanwhile, at Bogue Chitto, wide receiver/running back Brandon Wells signed a scholarship with Mississippi State University. The entire student body gathered in R.L. “Bob” Calhoun Gymnasium Wednesday morning to see Wells sign an SEC pact with the Bulldogs before the school day got underway.

Both Poole and Wells were headed for a scholarship celebration Wednesday morning. It is being held at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Jackson.

“I’m excited to sign with Southern Miss,” said Poole. “I met the new coach (Todd Monken) and I like him.,”

Monken, former offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, was hired in December to replace Ellis Johnson who was fired after one season at the helm. The Golden Eagles made history by going winless in 12 games in 2012.

Poole, standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 240 pounds, said he hopes to continue wearing jersey number 85 at Southern Miss. He was named The DAILY LEADER’s Defensive Player of the Year on the 2012 All-Lincoln County Team. He was credited with a team-best 101 tackles, including 75 solo stops. He had 7.5 quarterback sacks.

Recognized for his speed, strength and quickness, Poole earned MVP defensive honors on the All-Region 3-5A team. He was selected to play in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Classic.

Ole Brook head coach Tommy Clopton joined Poole, his mother, Rochland Porter; and stepfather, Bryce Porter; plus 8-year-old stepbrother Bryson and 5-year-old stepsister Braelyn for the scholarship photo.

Clopton said Poole is a special player. “JaBoree has a high motor and he can take control of a game. He has a tremendous work ethic. That will carry him far in everything he does.

“We are very proud of JaBoree,” Clopton added. “We wish him and his family the best.”

Poole plans to attend summer school at USM, starting July 5. He will participate in voluntary workouts before preseason drills begin in early August.

Poole’s mother graduated from Southern Miss in 2000. She is a counselor in the Prentiss Public School system.

Besides Poole, three other BHS seniors plan to sign junior college scholarships, either today or later this week. Running back Justin Blue is headed for Southwest to be reunited with former BHS coach Tucker Peavey. Quarterback Zach Smith is signing with Co-Lin and offensive lineman B.J. Robinson is signing with Pearl River.

At Wesson, lineman Cullen Greer and linebacker Koy McFarland are scheduled to sign with Co-Lin this afternoon.

Wells is considered to be the first Bogue Chitto athlete to sign a football scholarship with a Southeastern Conference member. In the early 1990s, BC basketball star Cornelia Gayden signed a scholarship with the LSU Lady Tigers.

Wells smiled and said he was excited about the prospects of playing for Coach Dan Mullen at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs run a high-octane spread offense and Wells could find a home at wide receiver.

“It’s an honor to sign a scholarship and I’m ready to play,” said Wells. “It’s still undecided where I’ll play. The coaches will decide that at camp.”

Wells reports for summer school at MSU on June 6. He also will participate in voluntary summer workouts with his Bulldog teammates. He also was selected to play in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic last December, in Montgomery, Ala.

“Coach Sartin taught me a lot,” said Wells. “Just about everything I know about football.”

Wells said he plans to major in computer technology.

“We are really proud for Brandon and happy for him,” said Bogue Chitto coach Gareth Sartin. “It’s an incredible honor for him.”

Sartin said Wells has a bright future ahead of him. “Brandon is a hard-working kid. He will take it and make the most of the opportunity. He can really change his life with that education. That’s the most important thing.”

Offensively, Wells (6-1, 180) played running back, quarterback and wide receiver as a senior. He also played in the defensive secondary, helping lead the Bobcats to the Class 1A South State championship game and a 13-1 record.

He rushed for 1,333 yards and 10 touchdowns.

“Brandon made tons of plays for us and I hate to see him go,” said wSartin, a 1999 MSU graduate. “I look forward to seeing him play on the next level.”

Last summer at MSU football camp, Wells ran an eye-opening 4.34 in the 40-yard dash.

“Brandon is versatile so that will help him play a few different positions,” Sartin noted. “They (MSU) will try him at several spots.”

Wells is anxious to get started.

Also at Bogue Chitto, wide receiver Germie Martin (Co-Lin) and defensive end James Blackwell (Hinds) are signing community college scholarships.