Recruiting Update

Many high school football teams have concluded the regular season, with some continuing postseason dreams.<P> Although prep football is nearing the end in 2003, the recruitment of the top players across the South is also changing gears, with loads of official visits being thrown in different directions.

We start with our brief update looking at two of the top receivers in the state of Mississippi, one in the high school ranks and the other hailing from the talent-laden Mississippi junior college system.

Tony Burks, a 6-4 and 205-pound receiver from Harrison Central, has seen many scholarship offers over the past few months. Listed among the top two receivers in Mississippi by most recruiting publications, Burks has received scholarship opportunities at LSU, Ole Miss, MSU, Southern Miss and most recently, Florida State.

"I may commit soon or wait a little bit longer," said Burks. "Right now though, I would have to say that LSU is my leader along with Florida State and Ole Miss."

Burks plans to officially visit LSU, USM and Ole Miss and admits that Mississippi State may fall back into the picture once the coaching situation is finalized.

"I haven't heard from Mississippi State in awhile," noted Burks. "I am interested in who they might bring in (to replace Sherrill). That is something that might change my thoughts and increase my chances of going there."

Anthony Brown of Mississippi Delta Community College does have the Bulldogs on his short list, however. The 6-6 and 205-pound Brown has MSU and Arkansas atop his list of offers at last check.

"I have gotten offers from Alabama, State, Ole Miss and Arkansas," said Brown. "But Mississippi State and Arkansas are my final two choices right now. I will make my decision soon because I will graduate in December."

Brown notes of the possible early playing time in Starkville, and like all receivers, prefers a passing-oriented offensive attack.

"I like the offensive scheme at State because it is a lot like what we run here," said Brown, a native of Hot Springs, Ark. "I feel that I could pick that up pretty quick. I also feel I could step in right away and be able to play at receiver, you know with the guys they are losing. Coach (Steve) Campbell said that the offense would not change without Sherrill there.

"I want to go somewhere they pass more than they run, and a place I can be comfortable with. Even though Coach Sherrill is leaving, it doesn't matter as long as you prove yourself to the new coach. If you do that, you will get noticed and playing time."

Moving to the other side of the football, one of the South's most coveted offensive linemen is Geoff Berniard. The Lafayette, La., native has been offered by 13 schools, including heavyweights such as Tennessee and Florida State.

"My main three schools right now are Tennessee, Florida State and South Carolina," said Berniard. "I hope to visit all those schools along with Ole Miss possibly."

Berniard attended the Mississippi State football camp over the summer and admitted of his early interest with the Bulldogs' gridiron program. But like others, he also wants to wait and see how the new staff in Starkville shakes out.

"I was interested in Mississippi State and they offered me early on," noted Berniard. "I went to their camp this summer and we really talked a lot with the coaching staff. But since the season has started, they have really stopped calling.

"I heard about Coach Sherrill leaving and I wasn't real sure about that whole deal and everything. It may change if they get a new coach soon but I really haven't talked to them since August."

Heading back to the Magnolia State, Philip Tobias is considered one of the top defensive linemen in Mississippi, a coveted position for any team during any year. The Brookhaven High School product has offers from USM and MSU with plans to officially visit all three in-state Division 1 universities.

Tobias, 6-4 and 290, has already visited the Golden Eagles and Bulldogs unofficially.

"My leader right now is probably Southern Miss, really because they are so close to home and everything," said Tobias. "But I also have interest in Arkansas, Virginia and maybe MSU. I know that State lost their coach but whoever their new coach is may change my mind a little bit.

"I really would like to stay in-state. But if it comes to it, I probably would not have any problems going out-of-state. I will be happy wherever I get a chance to play at the next level. I will probably commit pretty late to make sure I know all my options so I can make the best choice."

Paul Jones is a recruiting correspondent for Gene's Page. Paul, also a sports writer for the Columbus Commercial Dispatch, can be reached by email at

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