Football players like Gabe Myles don't come along very often.
Starkville High School coach Jamie Mitchell was able to put the talents that Myles possessed to good use the last two years.
Myles has been selected as The Starkville Daily News High School Player of the Year for his accomplishments on the field last season. It is the second-straight year for Myles to be honored in such a fashion.
Seeing his quarterback recognized for his abilities does not come as a surprise for Mitchell. Having coached Myles for the last few years, Mitchell mentions just how “rare” an athlete like Myles is.
“It is more about his personality and his character than his playing ability,” Mitchell said. “You run across a lot of good players, but it is rare that you get great people that are great players as well and he is just that rare blend. He is a straight A student, has a great momma and daddy and he is just so blessed on the field. We were just lucky to have him. He is the complete package.”
Mitchell may attribute Myles’ talents to the player and his work ethic, but the quarterback knows that without a coach like Mitchell, he would not be where he is today and for that he is truly grateful.
“He is pretty hard on you sometimes, but he is only going to make us better and I thank him for that,” Myles said. “He made me a better player, taught me to just have confidence in myself and not to worry about what other people are going to say about it. Just to play your game and it would all work out.”
It seems that the senior has put what his coach taught him to practice. Throughout the season Myles went 81-for-171 for 1,153 yards, 21 touchdowns and was only intercepted three times. On the ground, Myles had 127 carries for 554 yards and nine touchdowns.
While Myles had some impressive statistics that earned him a spot on the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Classic, things did not start out well for the Jackets who began the season 1-3. For many that would be discouraging, but instead of letting it get them down, Myles and his teammates pulled together and never gave up.
“I know it didn’t hinder the upperclassmen,” Myles said. “We have been through those things before and we knew it wasn’t going to stop us from getting to Jackson and winning a state championship. We just had to pull together and remind ourselves that we are still Starkville and we can compete with anybody.”
Starting the season 1-3 was not the only thing Starkville was battling this season. After the 2011 season concluded, the Jackets suffered a great loss as Devin Mitchell tragically lost his life on New Year’s Eve. Some might have let this tragedy get them down, but not this team. Instead the 2012 Jackets chose to play “full speed” to honor their fallen teammate.
“Most definitely we missed Devin,” Myles said. “Anytime you lose a friend, it hurts and we just wanted to make sure we played every play like he would play. He played full speed, so we wanted to make sure we played full speed.”
Starkville clung to Mitchell’s memory as they entered the season and after losing to rival West Point, Myles said the team decided to “turn it up a notch” which they certainly did. Following that loss, Myles says the Jackets began to play “Starkville football,” which led to the team winning all seven of its Class 5A, Region 2 games.
Things turned around for Starkville following the West Point loss, but before the team could travel to Jackson they had to face their rival again one last time. This meeting was even more intense than the first and when the battle ceased, the Jackets found themselves headed for state championship contention.
“Beating West Point felt great,” Myles said. “That’s a rival and beating them when it counts feels good. Yeah they beat us during the season, but when you beat them to stop them from going to Jackson, that feeling tops just beating them during the regular season.”
Following its win against West Point, Starkville traveled to Jackson where it claimed the Class 5A State championship beating a strong Pascagoula team.
“It is a good feeling to be on the winning state championship team,” Myles said. “That is what every high school football player wants to do and if you don’t want to do that, then you are not playing football. It is just the ultimate prize in high school football.”
The season may be over for Myles and his Starkville teammates, but the senior’s football days are far from over. Fulfilling what he refers to as a “dream come true,” Myles committed to play football for the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Myles commitment will mean some changes for the athlete who has been playing quarterback all his life. In his new role as college athlete, the Bulldogs are going to ask Myles to step to the other side of the ball and play defensive back. It is a change the senior says he is ready to make as he plans to “give (his) best” and go “where they want (him) to play.”
Having watched Myles work hard in all that he does, Mitchell is confident that his quarterback will be able to make the change and will “do a great job at Mississippi State.”
“He will have to learn some new fundamentals and techniques, but he will catch on quick,” Mitchell said. “He is very intelligent and it won’t take him long to adjust.”
Before he joins MSU, Myles is enjoying some rare time off the field where he can “relax and chill.”
“Off the field I like to keep things mellow,” Myles said. “(I like) just having time to myself to relax and chill. Having that time to be around the people you love is nice.”
Myles had better enjoy this precious downtime, because if the past is any indication, this Jacket has a prosperous future ahead of him as a Bulldog.