AU Signees Enjoy Football All-Star Game

Auburn's six all-stars in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game are featured with their comments on the contest.

Mobile, Ala.--For the six Auburn signees in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Game, the general consensus is that they were very disappointed their team didn't win Saturday night, but said the whole experience was an excellent one.

The Alabama All-Stars came up short on a final do-or-die drive with a minute left as the Mississippi team hung on for a 21-18 victory at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

"I learned a lot this week and I am glad I did this so I can pick up on the speed I am going to see in college," said Auburn signee Jerraud Powers from Decatur High School. "It has been such a good experience that I encourage any junior who has a chance to play in the game next year to do it"

Powers finished fourth on the team in tackles with three solos and two assists. He had one tackle for a loss.

"The game was the best part--it was really exciting," added Powers, who was named Mr. Decatur High School. "I enjoyed playing with guys I normally don't get to play with or against. It was just a great experience."

Next on the agenda for the cornerback is getting ready to move to Auburn for summer classes. "I am going to get started on June 12th," he said.

Wide receiver Montez Billings, another Auburn signee, was open most of the night, but the Alabama QBs had a tough time getting the ball to him. He did catch two passes for 19 yards for an Alabama team that completed 13-22 passes for 150 yards with two interceptions. The Alabama team had three turnovers, one more than Mississippi.

Despite only catching two balls, the prolific high school receiver said he enjoyed the trip to Mobile. "It was great to get to know the guys and I think it will help get me ready for the next level," Billings said.

Billings, who plans to report to Auburn for mid-June classes, said he currently checks in at 6-3, 175 pounds and said he hopes to gain some weight when he gets to campus.

Gabe McKenzie is shown in action Saturday night.

Tight end Gabe McKenzie did a good job blocking and caught a pass for a two-point conversion on Saturday night. "It was a good week. We worked hard and were focused. We made good plays and they made good plays. I wish we could have won the game."

McKenzie said the disappointing part of the game was that he dropped a pass in the second quarter that was thrown across the middle. He had left the defense behind and had room to make a big play. "I know what I need to work on now," he said. "I thought I was gone. The ball just fell out of my hands."

McKenzie said the best part of the week was making friends and getting to know the other future Auburn players in the game.

Antonio Coleman, a quick defensive end from Williamson High in Mobile, attended high school a short walk from Ladd-Peebles Stadium. He said he grew up wanting to play in this all-star game and said the contest, watched by an estimated crowd of 10,000, was a good one.

"I got to meet a couple of players who I will be playing with in college and a whole bunch of people I will be facing in college. It was a great week. Unfortunately, we came up three points short. If I could do it again, I would do it again.

"I really enjoyed getting to play with my teammates who I will be with the next four or five years at Auburn," he said. "I really thought we should have won the game. Sometimes the best team doesn't win and I think that was the case in this game."

Coleman plans to come to Auburn next week, too, to get an early start on his freshman season.

Coleman, who currently weighs 220, says his goal is to get to 250 in college. "I am ready to get up to Auburn get to work. They might redshirt me or they might not. I am just going to work and see what happens."

Linebacker Rex Sharpe, who came off the bench, is the only one of the six players not coming to AU this summer. He said that he plans to go to Butler County Community College in Kansas to get his academic situation in order after coming up shy of freshman eligibility standards.

Sharpe said he is disappointed his entry into Auburn will be delayed, but if he handles his academics in junior college in can be at AU in a year and a half with three seasons of eligibility.

"It was a great experience meeting new friends, meeting new players and I got everybody's numbers so I can call them," he said.

The Fairfield High standout said the all-star game is "like a first step into college football because all of the players are so good and most of them are equal."

Sharpe, who says he is 6-1 1/2, 215 pounds, says he is determined to get to Auburn as soon as possible. He said when he found out this week he wasn't qualified to attend AU, it was a major disappointment.

Sen'Derrick Marks (68) had a sack for the Alabama all-stars.

Sen'Derrick Marks had one of the best plays in the game with a sack that forced a turnover in the fourth quarter at the Mississippi 29-yard line with 6:58 to play. That looked like it could set up the winning score, but on the next play quarterback Devin Goodwin threw a deep ball, but it was picked off Cornelius McGee from Clarksdale, Miss., who is headed to Southern Miss.

The Alabama team had one more chance to pull it out, but the drive stalled on downs at the Mississippi 31-yard line.

"It was a great week and there were players in the game who are going to be great players all over the country," Marks said. "It was a learning experience for me really."

Marks, a defensive tackle, handled himself well in the trenches against a very large Mississippi offensive line. He was credited with three tackles on Saturday and the 260-pounder said he didn't mind playing against linemen who were well over 300 pounds.

"It was all right, they come in all sizes and all shapes," Marks said. "At the next level, they are going to have some guys who are taller and bigger than them. When we saw them at the first week we knew they were big, but by the end of the night they were huffing and puffing."

Marks said he is excited about reporting to Auburn on June 12. "Playing college football is my dream," he said. "I can't wait to get started."

For the Alabama team, quarterback Jarod Bryant from Hoover was the MVP. He is a player who Auburn offered a spot as an invited walk-on, but the 5-10 (liberally measured) 185 QB is going to the Naval Academy.

Lee Klein from St. Stanislaus was MVP for the winners. The 5-11, 212 linebacker had six assisted tackles, including two for losses, and had a fumble recovery. He is planning to attend Air Force.

The most impressive play of the game was a 72-yard run by Derek Pegues of South Panola. He looked to be trapped in the backfield for a loss, but escaped and outran the Alabama defense for the longest run in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game's history. That put Mississippi up 10-3 in the second quarter 14-10 and that team never lost the lead.

The Alabama All-Stars netted 216 yards with just 66 on the ground. The winners totaled 247 with 147 rushing yards.

The leading tackler for the Alabama team was C.J. Brown from Prattville, who had four solos and four assists. He is a 6-1, 220 linebacker headed for Samford.

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