Around Batesville, Miss., South Panola High is all that matters. One of the nation’s premier high school football programs, the Tiger way is winning championships.
Last fall, Nickolas Brassell helped South Panola do just that, leading the Tigers to the Mississippi 6A state title. From 2003 to 2007, the school captured five straight 5A titles.
“It was great to be back on top,” Brassell said. “Around here they expect you to be the best team in the state. It is the kind of environment that wants nothing but success, and that is helping set me up for big things down the road.”
Brassell finished the year with 1,272 yards and 16 touchdowns on 63 receptions, good enough numbers to earn first-team All-State honors from the Clarion Ledger.
Soon after the offers started to pour in, leaving the 6-foot-2, 175-pound receiver dizzy from the constant attention.
“I have gotten so much mail, from the scholarships to interest letters, that I couldn’t even remember all of the schools that are after me,” Brassell said. “It is not too overwhelming, because it is an experience that I have always wanted to have. But for this many big schools to be on me before my junior season is over, that was kind of a surprise.”
The top offers Brassell pointed to were from Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, Tennessee and USC. While he has already checked out the campuses at Tuscaloosa and Oxford, a trip to Baton Rouge is quickly rising on the to-do list.
“I talked with [wide receivers] coach [Billy] Gonzales, and I definitely am trying to get down there this spring or even in the summer,” Brassell said. “I have never been to LSU, and they are definitely one of the top schools that is showing me love. The trip is one that I really want to happen soon. LSU is a serious option for me.”
The Tiger scholarship offer arrived at school for Brassell in early February, a day that the junior prospect said stands out on his recruitment calendar.
“When I got that offer it was special because I have gone through high school as a fan of LSU,” he said. “I have watched them on television these past few years, and I see that they have big-time receivers that go on to play on Sundays. That is a good thing to me, because I want a chance at the NFL.
“LSU is also in the SEC, and growing up in Mississippi you really follow what that conference is all about,” he added. “It would be a good fit, and I feel like that about a couple of schools around here. I just want to get out and experience each place and see where I feel at home.”
While playing at South Panola will certainly give you an up-close look at the recruiting game, Brassell credits cousin Darius “Tig” Barksdale – a defensive back from the Class of 2008 – with his desire to reach the top of the high school athletics scene.
“I saw what Tig was going through, and I wanted those same offers and those same coaches coming by the school to check me out when I became a senior,” he said. “Basically, I wanted to be the best. After putting together a great season, I am kind of seeing that happen.
“I want to let all this play out without rushing into anything,” he added. “My coaches are telling me to take visits in the fall and see as many places I can, because I can only decide once. When I find that place, I think I will know. Right now I am wide open, no favorites.”