When looking at the past Clarion-Ledger award winners of Mr. Football, names like Aeris Williams and Tyler Russell stand out to me. Looking back at all the amazing players coming out of high school going into their college careers, I wanted to look at which ones had the biggest impact on their team in college.
Tyler Russell is known for being one of the best quarterbacks in Mississippi State University history. During his high school career at Meridian, he snapped South Panola’s 89 game win streak in the 5A state championship game. At State Russell played in 38 career games and threw for 5,441 yards and 42 touchdowns. In his senior year he injured his shoulder and was replaced by everyone’s favorite, Dak Prescott. As a junior Tyler had his best season when he threw 2,897 yards and 24 touchdowns setting school records which were broken by Dak Prescott during the next few seasons.
Aeris Williams won the award in 2013 where he ran for nearly 4,000 yards and almost 40 touchdowns in his career at West Point high school. Williams is now playing at Mississippi State and really started to hit his stride late in the season running for 140 yards vs. Texas A&M and almost 200 yards and 2 touchdowns vs. Ole Miss. Williams looks to have a strong chance of being the starting running back come next season for the Bulldogs. Williams may have the opportunity to be a key piece in Dan Mullen’s offense next season and hopefully finish a great career here at State.
The 2016 winner of Mr. Football that the state just started doing this past November other than Clarion- Ledger is future Florida State Seminole Cam Akers. Akers played quarterback in Clinton, Mississippi; however, will be switching to running back in college. In his high school career, Cam threw for 8,140 yards and 78 throwing touchdowns and also ran for 5,103 yards and 71 rushing touchdowns. With Dalvin Cook leaving to go to the NFL next season, Akers should be the day one starter for the Seminoles. Akers looks to find success at Florida State just like Cook did.
Jimmy Johns, won the award in 2004 after leading Brookhaven high school to the Class 4A state championship and went on to attend the University of Alabama, hoping to be the next great dual threat quarterback. Johns once looked to be a promising young star for the Crimson Tide unfortunately stumbled and was arrested and charged of distribution of cocaine. After being sent to prison of 13 months, Johns turned his life around and now uses his free time back on the football field as a member of a local semi pro team.
Mr. Football of 2005, Terry Grant the star running back from Lumberton, Mississippi at 5’-9” and 190 pounds, like Johns, went on to play college football at Alabama. In high school, Terry had 113 total touchdowns and more than 2,700 rushing yards. Terry’s career at Alabama did not go as well as he had hoped. His sophomore season he ran for almost 900 yards to go along with 8 touchdowns and 1 receiving touchdown. Unfortunately, due to a series of injuries his playing time was limited during the next couple of years and he was unable to regain his position as a starter.
In 2006 Chris Strong out of South Panola high school was one of a few defensive players to win the Mr. Football award. Standing at 6’-2” 240 pound this inside linebacker decided to attend Ole Miss. During his first year at Ole Miss he played in nine games and started in three. He finished the year with 19 total tackles; with 10 solo tackles. Going into his sophomore year Strong decided to withdraw from the University of Mississippi.
Darius Barksdale prefers to go by Tig is a 5’-10” 215 pound running back also from South Panola high school. He never lost a game in his high school career and set a 5A record with 2,917 yards and 35 touchdowns as a senior 2007. Tig was rated the number 9 best running back in the country and the number 3 best safety according to Scout.com. Tig went on to further his career at Ole Miss and played safety. Tig also had troubles with the law and was arrested with a DUI charge and would not return to Ole Miss. He later transferred to UL Lafayette.
Dylan Farve, Mr. Football of 2009, out of Kiln, Mississippi is the nephew of Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Farve. During Dylan’s high school career, he threw for 5,511 yards and 63 touchdowns and 18 rushing touchdowns. He went on to play for Mississippi State for one season before transferring to UTM Skyhawks. His college career did not go as he would have liked only throwing for 1,865 yards and 20 total touchdowns.
Looking back at all the players that won Mr. Football for the state of Mississippi all had outstanding high school careers unfortunately most fell off when going to college. Players like Tyler Russell and Aeris Williams found success in college after being named Mr. Football. Hopefully, Cam Akers can find greater success at Florida State and finish his dream of going to the NFL one day.