July 23, 2009

Elite Mississippians talk recruiting

JACKSON, Miss. -- Wednesday was a good day for Steve McNair, Jr.

Inside Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson, the Oak Grove wide receiver joined the rest of the Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen selections, as the elite players gathered for photographs and interviews. McNair joked, smiled and appeared upbeat just 18 days after his father, Steve McNair, Sr., was found dead in a Nashville residence.

While the heavy heart is still present, McNair is doing all he can to push forward.

"I just take it one day at a time and see how my family is doing," McNair said. "I'm doing really well. It shouldn't have happened like this, but God has a plan."

McNair credits most of his football success to his father, and memories of the two interacting around the game are still prominent.

"He helped me a lot because he would throw it to me five feet away as hard as he could. It taught me ball skills. I just loved him to death."

McNair told Rebelsports.net earlier this week that Ole Miss was very much in play for his services at the next level. An offer hasn't yet been delivered, but McNair said he would like one.

As for future plans regarding recruiting, the process isn't pressing at the current time.

"I don't know. About visits and those things," McNair said. "I've got a lot going on with my dad just leaving me."


Olive Branch offensive tackle Damien Robinson is staying diplomatic when it comes to which colleges he favors.

Robinson has more than 20 offers, and while he recently visited Alabama and LSU, the 6-foot-7 rising senior who wears a size 20 shoe, maintains that all schools that have offered are still in it.

"I just want to really take my time and let it play out," Robinson said. "I want to give everyone a chance."

When asked directly about Ole Miss, Robinson reiterated his statement.

"Everyone who has offered is in it, and Ole Miss has offered."

Robinson said he hoped to travel to Mississippi State's camp Friday, but he wasn't sure about any others.


Kaleb Eulls recently chose Mississippi State as his college destination, but the Yazoo County star will still test the waters before National Signing Day.

"I'm definitely going to visit a few schools I'm curious about with my official visits later on," Eulls said. "You never know, I might have missed something, and you don't want to leave any options out there or information unknown.

"I'll look at Ole Miss and maybe another school or two. Right now, though, I feel like I made a great decision."


Travis Dickson is looking forward to sleep and a decent meal.

The Ocean Springs tight end barely made it to Jackson, due to a mission trip in Atlanta with the Atlanta Dream Center. The charitable work and a fishing outing on the Mississippi coast has Dickson drained and out of energy.

"People ask me about visits this weekend, but I'm exhausted," Dickson said. "Atlanta was wonderful, and the kids were great. I really don't know what I'm going to do next. I need to sleep in my bed and eat something besides peanut butter and jelly sandwiches."

However, with football season approaching quickly, Dickson anticipates his energy level to be high in the near future. Ocean Springs' schedule is first priority, and then he'll focus on recruiting.

"I'm so ready for football season, and then I guess I'm excited about official visits and all that stuff. The in-state schools are still up there, and I want to get a closer look at Oklahoma, LSU and Georgia as well -- teams that continue to show interest."


Tony Hughes is in his initial year as an assistant coach under Dan Mullen at Mississippi State, but his son, Jay, isn't ready to make his recruitment a simple matter of family ties.

Jay Hughes, an athlete out of Oak Grove, has offers from MSU, USM, Tennessee and Vanderbilt, while Ole Miss continues to recruit him. The elder Hughes previous two coaching stints were at Ole Miss and USM respectively.

"People think just because my dad is at State, that it's a done deal, but that's not the case."

Nevertheless, most believe that statement doesn't relate to Ole Miss.

Hughes did give props to a current Rebel wide receiver when asked about the players he models his game after.

"C.J. Spiller at Clemson, I wear the same wristbands and stuff as him, and also Shay Hodge at Ole Miss," Hughes said. "I talk to him a lot."


Carlos Thompson isn't guaranteeing to end up at a Mississippi university, but the miles from home are a factor.

Thompson, a defensive end from Hollandale Simmons, has scholarship offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, USM, Vanderbilt, Baylor, Memphis, Auburn and Alabama.

"I'm not worried about going out-of-state, but I don't want to get too far away from home," Thompson said. "Out of my offers, I like Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Baylor and Auburn not in any order. I think I'll wait and check out the schools more before deciding."


Carlton Martin and Bryon Bennett are planning to lead Madison Central to the 6A state championship this season. They are also entertaining the idea of heading off to the same college.

"We've looked at it and toyed with the idea," Bennett said. "It's certainly possible, but we just have to see what is best for us individually. I could see it happening though."

The pair is planning to take in two in-state camps this weekend.

"(We're) going to Mississippi State Friday and Ole Miss Saturday," Martin said. "It's return trips, but you always find out something new and get to test yourself against other players. It's been a busy summer, and it's an important weekend."


South Panola running back Nick Parker is more concerned with the Tigers' season than anything else.

South Panola had its 89-game win streak snapped by Meridian in the 2008 state finals, and Parker named one ingredient that could have the Tigers back on top in 2009.

"They've got me," Paker jokingly boasted. "I'm healthy, and as a team, we're using that loss as motivation. Finishing second can't happen again at South Panola."

As for his recruitment, Parker is staying mum.

"I don't have any leaders or really know what all is in store soon," Parker said. "I'm going to Ole Miss' camp Saturday."

Parker named LSU a leading candidate just more than a month ago, but that has since been taken back.


Oak Grove wide receiver Robert Johnson is planning to enjoy his chance to be recruited.

"I won't do anything until February -- National Signing Day," Johnson said. "I'll take all five visits and then figure it out."

Johnson places Ole Miss, Mississippi State and USM at his top, along with Florida State, Louisville and West Virginia. He'll take part in two camps this weekend.

"I'm heading to Mississippi State Friday, and I'm hoping to get a ride to Ole Miss' Saturday. I think I should be able to get one."

Johnson is looking for the right fit, whether it be close to home or not.

"People try to make it a big deal to stay inside Mississippi, but I'm looking, with my parents, at the best place for me. That might be one of the three here in Mississippi, but it may not be."

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