How does a high school football player make the roster for an All-Star Game?
It's like a motto an old-time commercial used to promote, "you earn it."
Starkville High School senior quarterback Jaquez Johnson has done just that as it was announced Wednesday that he was one of two signal callers selected for the Mississippi team for the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Classic.
Also on Wednesday, the Yellowjackets were notified that senior linebacker D.J. Jordan was selected for the North squad of the Bernard Blackwell Game.
"Both of those guys are representing us with one in Mobile and one on the coast in the Bernard Blackwell Game and we're proud of both of them," Starkville coach Jamie Mitchell said. "It's just a great thing for our school and community. "
The Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Classic will be Dec. 11, while the Bernard Blackwell Game takes place on Dec. 18.
Johnson and Jordan have led the Jackets to records of 5-2 overall and 3-1 in Class 6A, Region 1. They travel to Olive Branch to continue region play Friday night.
Since the inception of the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Classic, there have been 18 first-round National Football League draft picks and 120 drafted players overall who have participated in the game. The list of players includes Antonio Langham, Deuce McAllister, Jason Campbell, John Copeland, Cadillac Williams, Steve McNair, Willie Anderson, Andre Smith and Rolando McClain, the eighth pick of the 2010 NFL Draft.
Johnson was speechless to join such an elite group.
"When I heard about it, I really didn't know what to say," Johnson said.
The entire 40-member roster was chosen by a special committee of the Mississippi Association of Coaches. The team is comprised of at least one player from each of the state's eight districts and one player from each of the six classificiations.
Johnson knows the success SHS has enjoyed on the field recently has sent the attention his way.
"When you start winning, you start getting recognition," Johnson said.
Johnson's numbers have also gone a long way in getting him noticed.
Through seven games, Johnson has completed 45 of 104 pass attempts for 875 yards with 12 touchdowns and only two interceptions. It was a focus of his over the summer to cut down on the picks.
Johnson has also rushed 99 times for 488 yards and nine more scores.
"Quez has worked as hard as anybody we've got and is tremendously deserving," Mitchell said. "A lot of people are probably going to scratch their head when they see his name there, but if you look at his numbers and what he's done this year, he's probably as deserving as anybody.
"He's probably the one player who has earned it for what he's done on the field on Friday night because I guarantee when the year started, he would have never been mentioned. He's earned every bit of it."
Johnson, who gave credit to his offensive lineman and running backs for their help this season, has been contacted by Southern Mississippi, UAB and Memphis.
He's still yet to be seriously recruited which is a mystery to Mitchell.
"I'm still a little puzzled why we don't have some offers on the table," Mitchell said.
Just as Johnson is the unquestionable senior leader on offense, Jordan holds the same stature on defense.
Jordan leads the Jackets with 65 total tackles and five of those are for a loss. He has two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries to his credit.