Linebacker Prospect Down To Four Colleges

This Mississippi high school football one-man wrecking crew will visit Auburn in January.

Moss Point, Miss.--Moss Point High has one of the top athletic programs in the South regardless of sport. Whether it's football, basketball or baseball, they have had their share of top players to come out of the Gulf Coast town.

That's what makes the accomplishment of linebacker Marquis McBeath more impressive than normal. The all-time leader in tackles for Moss Point with 334 in his three seasons as a starter, the 6-1, 225 McBeath finished his career in style as a senior. Leading the team with 104 tackles along with nine sacks, 10 quarterback hurries, five caused fumbles, five fumble recoveries and one interception, he was a one-man wrecking crew this season.

His play and leadership both on and off the field led schools from all over the country to come to South Mississippi to see him in action. With offers from more than a dozen schools, McBeath says that he's narrowed things down to four schools and will visit each of them in the month of January before making a decision.

"Right now I have narrowed it down to four schools," McBeath tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "I have narrowed it down to Ole Miss, LSU, Auburn and Nebraska. Basically, LSU and Ole Miss are my top two. They are equal right there at the top for my signature. Right behind them is Auburn and Nebraska is making a late push. They didn't have any defensive coaches so they're putting their staff together and I'm getting used to their coaches."

Scheduled to visit Ole Miss Jan. 10, Auburn on Jan. 17, LSU on Jan. 24 and Nebraska on Jan. 31, McBeath hopes to find that something on his trip that will help him make a final decision. Being recruited for Auburn by linebacker Coach Joe Whitt, McBeath says that Whitt has given it to him straight and he appreciates that approach.

"Right now they have a pretty good tradition," McBeath says of the Tigers. "This year they had a pretty good season. If they wouldn't have had the running back problems they would have won even more games. The situation they are in, if I went I would be playing a backup role at middle linebacker. One will be leaving and one will be a junior next season. That would mean I would get playing time or I might get redshirted. That's two years behind another linebacker, but he said that's a choice I'm going to have to make. I'll either sit for two years or try to come in and take his spot. That's something I'm going to have to think about."

Although he considers himself a speed linebacker and that could certainly be the case with a personal-best time of 4.6 in the 40-yard dash, McBeath can handle himself between the tackles as well. With a bench press of 330 pounds and a squat of 450 pounds, he says that he likes to play teams that run the ball right at the defense.

"I play the run first and the past second," McBeath says. "My game is very aggressive. I play an intense style of play. If the people around me aren't playing intense I know how to get them in the game by making a big play. I read offenses very well and I study film before and after practices. The majority of the time in a game I know where the play is going to go by the way they line up, especially if it's on the ground."

Tiger Ticket Extra:Mark Brown gone, the Tigers will be looking for some immediate help at middle linebacker. Add to that the loss of true freshman Tyrone Martin, who had to give up the game because of a medical condition, and the linebacker position becomes one of the most important for the Tigers in the signing class of 2003.

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