Itawamba coach Sean Cannon says there is no particular reason, other than track record, that a pipeline of sorts has emerged the 190 miles between Arkansas State and north Mississippi Junior college.
‘I think there are a number of factors,’’ said Cannon, who team has one player who joins the team next month and two who are committed to sign with the Red Wolves in December.
“We’ve had guys go up there and who have been successful, and the school is close to where we are located. We recruit kids from north Mississippi and its close so there parents can go watch them play.
“And one thing I told our coaches here is we are going to be honest when coaches come through here and check our guys. They can do the evaluation for themselves but we will tell them the truth about character, work ethic and off the field stuff. I think we have done that and that is why coaches keep coming back.”
Offensive tackle Joe Bacchus, an ICC alum, is expected to start for the Red Wolves at tackle this fall. Center Alan Byrd is expected to join the team in August and defensive end Kenny Wooten and offensive lineman Dqmarquis Shaw are commits who said they will sign with A-State in December.
“They are all good football players,’’ said Cannon. “Joe Bacchus came here as a 6-foot-3, 235-pound lineman who nobody recruited because of his size. We saw a frame that could gain weight. He was athletic. You project on kids sometimes and we hit on that one.”
Byrd (5-11, 290) is finishing one class so he can graduate and will report to Jonesboro when the team begins fall practice the first week of August.
“I tell coaches now he will not pass the eye test because of his height but he is a football player,’’ said Cannon. “He started for us for two years and he played very well against some very good football players. He works hard.”
Byrd earned first-team All-Mississippi Junior College Conference honors and declined several late Division 1 offers to stay with the Red Wolves.
Wooten (6-1, 233) committed to A-State during the spring. He and Byrd were high school teammates at Meridian, Miss.
“He has a good first year and has picked it up a lot since then,’’ said Cannon. “He is one of those guys who is a great leader and made great improvement in the spring. He is one of those guys where it clicked on and he knows he can do a lot better.”
The most recent commitment, OL Dqmacrus Shaw (6-5, 330), who made a pledge last week. Shaw is from Batesville, Miss.
“Anytime you can get a 6-foot-5 body that weighs 300 pounds you take it,’’ said Cannon. “He has really worked hard. He was around 330 and now he's in the 310-315 range and he was telling me how easier it was for him to move. I said sure, ‘you are carrying around an extra 30 pounds.’
“He is one of two offensive starters we have coming back. He’s worked hard this off-season for football and academics. He has a chance to be a much better football player.”