Recruiting trail: Magnolia State produces another strong group of players

Robbie Faulk

Staff Writer

It’s been said for a couple of years that 2019 was going to be one of the best years for Mississippi football talent in recent memory. So far, it’s living up to the hype.

Looking across the in-state rankings for this season, 16 players hold a four-star rating or better by the 247Sports Composite rankings. Horn Lake linebacker Nakobe Dean is amongst the elite players nationally with his five-star rating and is the No. 14 player nationally regardless of position. He’s still uncommitted to this point with Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Ole Miss in the mix for his signature, but many of the top talent in state has already made the call as signing day approaches.

There are 17 of the top 20 players in the state that have picked Southeastern Conference schools. The other three are waiting to make their decision next Wednesday when national signing day approaches. It goes further from there as 30 Mississippi players will be playing ball in the SEC next season, but it’s not just Mississippi State and Ole Miss who will be lucky enough to have them.

There’s Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Georgia and Arkansas that have come into the state and pulled some of that talent away. It was bound to happen with Ole Miss’ recent NCAA issues causing pause with some recruits and the coaching change at MSU has led to an easier decision for some of those players to make a call elsewhere.

It hasn’t stopped the Bulldogs and Rebels from getting their share of the talent, though, and there was plenty to go around.

MSU has earned commitments from three of the top 10 in the state with Seminary defensive tackle Nathan Pickering, Laurel offensive tackle Charles Cross, and Louisville defensive tackle Charles Moore all in the fold. Alabama has two commitments in West Jones’ defensive tackle Byron Young and Lafayette cornerback Brandon Turnage, Ole Miss also has two commitments to this point with Jackson Prep running back Jerrion Ealy and Sumrall wide receiver Dannis Jackson.

Ole Miss does boast the most Mississippi players committed with 14 on board while the Bulldogs have nine commitments from Mississippi in Joe Moorhead’s first season. Of course, there’s so many out there that could also follow down the same path of those that MSU, Ole Miss and other SEC schools overlooked like Darrell Henderson at Memphis and Gardner Minshew at Washington State, who owned headlines this season for monster offensive years.

Neither of those players were given an opportunity by SEC schools but they made the most of their chances elsewhere and both are likely headed for the NFL next. Starkville’s Zach Edwards and Rodrigues Clark could be heading down that road. Clark is set to sign with Memphis next week and Edwards could be a candidate to join him there which would be another win for coach Mike Norvell as he pulls in Mississippi talent.

SHS kicker Garrin Boniol was overlooked by big time schools after his huge senior season kicking the ball, but he’s following in his father Chris’ footsteps and joining Louisiana Tech. He will have a chance in the next couple of years to lock down the place kicking spot and could be a steal in that class for the other Bulldogs. He’ll also be after his father’s stats that he accumulated over his historic career in Ruston.

All of the players and numbers mentioned are an example of just how good the talent is in this state. We’ve all seen numerous players shine on the high school level here only to do the same when they get their chance wherever it may be in college.

I enjoy seeing these players that I’ve had a chance to watch and cover over the years succeed wherever it may be, but I always wonder what the landscape in this state would look like had they all chosen to stay in Mississippi.

I look at those committing to Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, Tennessee and others and it is a bit disheartening to see MSU or Ole Miss not landing those players. The talent that the Magnolia State produces from its strong roots is as good as there is anywhere in the United States. This class is here to prove that. 

Robbie Faulk is the high school writer for The Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are Faulk's and not necessarily the views of the SDN or its staff.