By DANNY P. SMITH
The city of Starkville has taken on an Itawamba flavor in terms of sports connections over the past few years.
Both schools in the city hired head football coaches previously from Itawamba County, while Mississippi State had some talented football players come out of Itawamba Community College.
The most noteable player who played for the Bulldogs after coming through ICC was defensive end Pernell McPhee.
McPhee became an All-Southeastern Conference selection during his time at MSU, was a fourth-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens and signed his deal last week.
The Ravens are getting a very physical player in McPhee, who can be very tough to block in a pass rush situation.
On the high school level, Starkville High School hired Jamie Mitchell as football coach in the spring of 2010.
The Yellowjackets finished with a record of 5-6 overall in Mitchell's first season and missed the playoffs by one game.
After a very encouraging spring and summer, Mitchell's program seems to be making strides and has a chance to compete very well in a new division and Class 5A this year.
Just across Lynn Lane at Starkville Academy, coach Jeff Terrill is also making progress with his team.
The Volunteers also found Terrill in Itawamba County after he previously coached at ICC.
After struggling to find wins prior to the Terrill era beginning, Starkville Academy managed to get a mark of 3-8 last season and was competitive in many other games. Terrill has continued to build throughout the spring and summer months and brought in veteran coach Bubba Davis to help that process along.
Starkville and Mississippi State has certainly been helped along with the existence of Mitchell, Terrill, McPhee and others.
It looks like Itawamba County has developed a reputation of producing good coaches, good players and good people.
On that note, our sports department has brought in a writer from Itawamba County.
Lee Adams, who recently moved to Starkville with his wife Morgan, has taken over as the Mississippi State beat writer for The Starkville Daily News. His first day on the job was Thursday and was thrown right into the fire as the Bulldogs opened preseason football practice.
As a member of the Itawamba County Times, Lee was responsible for coverage of Itawamba Community College, three high schools, five junior high schools and little league baseball and softball. With his experience of handling those responsibilities, we expect Lee to fit right into our staff for what we want to do in this area.
If you see Lee and Morgan out and about, please make them feel welcome in our city and community.
Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.