Rivals.com released their top-25 football players in the 2012 class from the state of Mississippi today. It's a list that's top-heavy which, when considering the dearth of BCS-level talent in Mississippi this year as compared to years prior, is both an overstatement and not necessarily a good thing.
Juco and I bounced some thoughts around and came upwith our annotations for each of the ten most highly rated prospects, as well as our thoughts on Recrootin' Dale's chances to land the blue-chippers.
1. QB Anthony Alford - Petal 6'1" 205 lbs
Alford has been a college recruiting target for a while now, having led the Petal Panther (they're the Panthers, right?) offense with significant success. He was named Gatorade's Player of the Year in Mississippi last season, being the first junior to ever receive that accolade. He is probably LSU's to lose at this point, but don't be surprised if he turns NCAA football down altogether. Alford's an elite baseball player who will likely go pro after next year's MLB draft.
2. DE Channing Ward - Aberdeen 6'4" 230 lbs
So scratch one off of the list, and now we're down to Channing Ward at the de facto number one. Ward, along with Quay Evans, will be the most highly recruited pair of defensive linemen in Mississippi in quite some time. It is tough to call where Ward will end up at this point. He has a brother who already "plays" for Ole Miss and is named either for a sign of the Zodiac or an old Ford sedan, you choose. If we're going to toss issues of geography in the mix, Aberdeen is a town which is wrapped rather tightly in maroon and white, the poor souls, so we're guessing it's a tossup between Ole Miss and State for who gets the defensive end prospect.
3. DT Quay Evans - Morton 6'3" 295 lbs
Between Bama, MSU, OM
Surely you remember this guy. He committed to Ole Miss as a sophomore, making a headline or two in the process, but has since backed out ever since Alabama and Mississippi State have come calling. He seems to like all three schools and is wavering wildly amongst them for his college choice. For the benefit of Ole Miss, he does have a landshark tattoo, so unless he wants to look stupid with an out-of-place tattoo, he should sign with the Rebels.
4. DT Isaac Gross - Batesville 6'3" 270 lbs
This guy's good. He's a Rebel. South Panola feeds us once again.
5. DE AJ Jefferson - Summit - 6'4" 240 lbs
Pass rushing specialist. We're hearing so little about him, which makes Juco think he's headed to MSU, but that's pure speculation. I'm gonna speculate that, since he's from Pike County, he'll go to LSU if they offer, will take Ole Miss as a second choice, and begrudgingly enroll at Southern Miss if shit doesn't work out for him in SEC country.
6. DT Nick James - Long Beach - 6'4" 335
Nick James is probably as highly regarded as Quay Evans by most recruiters due to his size. The dude's a behemoth. Wild e-speculation has said that he will have to attend a prep school or junior college before playing, which has kept a high-profile BCS recruitment out of the mix for James. I'm guessing he's LSU's to lose.
7. QB Jeremy Liggins - Oxford (Lafayette HS) - 6'3" 270 lbs
Even though Lafayette High School is on the edge of town, don't be shocked if Liggins doesn't stay in Oxford. Ole Miss hasn't recruited Lafayette HS well over the past several seasons. He is believed to favor Alabama nad Ole Miss with the Rebels having the edge right now. He's a 270 pound quarterback so he'll be an awesome tight end one day.
8. LB Richie Brown - Long Beach - 6'2" 207 lbs
The linebacker has camped at both Ole MIss and State, so who knows where this guy is leaning. He'll be a purple shirt and yella britches wearin' LSU Tiger if they offer him.
9. OT Cordarrly Gaines - Jackson - 6'5" 320 lbs
You know Houston Nutt looooooves him some gigantic offensive tackles. Would be nice to continue last year's trend of Jackson Public School offensive linemen coming to Ole Miss. We haven't heard much of anything on this guy, so let's just say he's 50/50 between Ole Miss and State unless any of y'all have anything else to share.
10. WR D'Arthur Cowan - Olive Branch - 6'1" 172 lbs
The red flag's right here ^^^^^^^^^^^^^ He's a player for Olive Branch which, if you know Mississippi recruiting, means he's almost certainly not going to Ole Miss. Some believe, though, that new wide receiver coach Gunter Brewer is helping out a lot with that issue. It would be nice to get him, but it's not essential when considering that, over the past two years, the Rebs have brought in four highly-recruited wide receivers from the Magnolia State.