Steve Robertson - Genespage.com

A look at the top two prospects from last weekend's rivalry game.

Starkville and West Point are long time rivals. Despite playing in two different classifications, the two programs have elected to keep their annual feud on the schedule. The home standing Yellow Jackets won this year's contest, but both teams are expected to challenge for state titles this fall. Starkville is led by one of the state's top 2017 prospects and West Point by 2018 star Marcus Murphy.

Marcus Murphy West Point High School Class of 2018

Currently committed to Mississippi State Bulldogs

The name of the game for Murphy is versatility. The staff at West Point line him up all over the field. Last fall, Murphy took just about every snap behind center. With the arrival of former Saltillo quarterback Clayton Knight, Murphy can now be seen lining up in a variety of positions. With Murphy now more of a wild card in the West Point offensive efforts, the game plan is essentially wide open.

While Murphy will still take some snaps at quarterback and run some of the option elements of the Green Wave offense, he lines up at wide receiver and running back. Just a junior, Murphy makes West Point go and he is clearly the straw that stirs the drink. Football is a team game, but West Point's title run likely rides on the back of Murphy, a Mississippi State commitment.

At 6-1, 175 or so, Murphy has the size, speed and athleticism to play a number of positions on the college level, but a move to defense may be in order. Murphy currently projects as a free safety, but with his ability to play a number of spots his true college position will likely come down to where he helps the team the most. Signing players like Murphy, gives the Bulldogs some options. Should Coach Dan Mullen and his staff need him to be a receiver, then a spot opens up to take another safety. Should the Bulldogs find a receiver that they simply cannot pass on, Murphy can fill that slot at safety.

Steve Robertson - Genespage.com

Willie Gay Starkville High School Class of 2017

Currently committed to Ole Miss

I am not sure there is a player in the current in state crop who has matured physically at a greater rate than Willie Gay. Gay has begun to fill out his frame and thanks to a commitment to his strength and conditioning, Gay looks the part of an SEC prospect in more ways than one.

Long, lean and athletic, Gay makes his home at outside linebacker. His ability to run makes him a solid fit in coverage or in run support. A long strider, Gay is able to cover a lot of ground and maintain backside containment when opposing offenses look to catch Starkville with a counter or some misdirection. 

Last season, Gay appeared to defer to the seniors on defense that had a hand in leading the team to a state title. This season, Gay has become more assertive. During the ball game Friday night, Gay blocked a West Point extra point that snatched the momentum away from the Green Wave who had the mojo after grinding out a score. 

Gay will only get bigger and stronger over the course of the next few years. With his frame, the talented linebacker could carry another 25 pounds of muscle without hurting his dexterity or foot speed.


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