Recruiting Update

Many of the top recruits in Mississippi will continue the 2003 postseason next week in Jackson while a few others witnessed their prep careers coming to a close last weekend.

With the recruiting switching gears in December with official visits and contacts increasing, several prospects have turned their attention to the next level on the gridiron.

South Panola and Wayne County, both loaded with numerous Division 1-calibur players, each have a shot at state titles. That alone will hamper several kids from visiting anywhere on December 6th.

But for those who are finished with high school football, it seems the race is on.

Heath Grant and Antonio McCoy of Starkville High School were disappointed to see their prep careers fall short of another state crown last Friday at South Panola. But both still have plenty of football to play at the collegiate ranks.

Grant, 6-1 and 220 pounds, has been tabbed as one of the best linebackers in the Magnolia State, combining his agility and intelligence to stand out on the Starkville defense the past three years.

A starter since his junior season kicked off, Grant has posted 120-plus tackles the last two seasons, collecting five interceptions and seven fumble recoveries as well. Although the son of MSU strength coach Mike Grant has lined up as a fullback on several occasions, he is projected to remain at linebacker in college.

Grant has received offers from Memphis and Southern Miss along with interest from Marshall and Texas A&M.

"I am still looking so I really don't know which school I will choose right now," said Grant. "I don't want to go too far from home. I'm also looking for a university that has a great overall athletic program. That's really what I am looking at, that and all the things with the campuses.

"I am looking to visit Memphis, Marshall and Mississippi State. All the schools contacting me are recruiting me as a linebacker, and that's exactly where I want to play in college."

McCoy, 6-1 and 190, just completed his first full season at receiver, leading the Yellow Jackets with 29 catches for 593 yards and five touchdowns.

As a junior, McCoy started at defensive back and saw very limited action on offense with just five receptions for 100 yard and one score. McCoy did lead the team with six interceptions, however, including three pass thefts in one game, and returned two for touchdowns.

McCoy has Mississippi State, Memphis, Southern Miss and Ole Miss among his schools of interest.

"I know I have five official visits and I will take all of them," said McCoy. "I know I will visit those schools interested in me the most and then just pick another school later. I am looking at the different environments, coaches and just basic things like that. But I don't have a leader right now."

Another highly-touted player whose season came to an end was Noxubee County receiver Brandon Tate.

Tate, 6-3 and 225 pounds, had another productive season for the Tigers, presenting numerous mismatches with his blend of size and speed. Tate led Noxubee County with 10 receiving touchdowns after notching six a year ago despite playing second fiddle to current MSU wideout Joey Sanders.

Tate noted of his interest in West Virginia, Ole Miss and the Bulldogs.

"I like the coaching staff at Ole Miss," said Tate. "And of course, they were winners this year and went out and had a good season. Everybody wants to be on a winning team. Ole Miss is a school not far from home and they have done a good job of recruiting me. West Virginia and MSU are also in the mix.

"I still have interest in Mississippi State," noted Tate. "It would be nice to play with Omarr (Conner) and Joey (Sanders) again. But that is not going to affect my decision one way or the other. And like everyone else, I am still interested in State and waiting to see who the new coach will be."

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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