After starting eight games for Hinds his first year (the only freshman starter on defense) and recording 56 tackles (4th on the team), 8 sacks, 5 pass deflections, 3 caused fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries, he injured himself during spring training. "I injured three herniated discs during spring training at Hinds," said J.J. "I did therapy before I had the surgery in June. I am coming along good. My muscle mass and strength have come back."
J.J. initially was going to come back and play football at Hinds CC this fall but the doctor wasn't going to clear him until after the fourth game had been played. Because of that, he decided to go ahead and red-shirt this year, allowing him to not only work out and continue to get his back stronger but also allowing him three years to play three at State.
Mississippi State, according to J.J., recruited him to play the same position that Conner Stephens and Robert Spivey play, the defensive end/outside linebacker position. However, what position he plays is not that important to J.J. "It doesn't really matter to me," said J.J. "I just want to get on the field."
J.J., who hopes to enroll in a junior college closer to State so that he can be around and workout with his soon to be Mississippi State teammates in the spring and summer, has not let the bad season Mississippi State is having this year effect his commitment to MSU. "It is nothing," said J.J. "Some things you can't control. I just want to be a part of Mississippi State. I know that they have something good up there and I want to be a part of it. Plus, they have stuck with me so I'm going to stick with them."
MSU commitment Otis Riddley, a defensive lineman who plays for Provine HS in Jackson, Mississippi, has recorded 55 tackles and 5 sacks this season in helping lead Provine to a 7-1 record. Because of the season he is having, Otis continues to receive calls from college coaches other than Mississippi State. Otis, who is nicknamed O-Dawg, said that he is receiving calls from, "West Virginia, Tulane, Auburn, Alabama State, Tennessee State and a couple of calls from the University of Tennessee and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. I think that the calls are going to pick back up since I am having a real good season."
With the number of colleges that are calling Otis, some folks might think that the season that Mississippi State is having might cause Otis to reconsider his commitment to MSU. "The way I look at it is people can't look at what Mississippi State is doing now," said Otis. "Mississippi State has been great for a long time and have been winning in seasons prior to this one. People shouldn't turn their back on them and I'm not going to turn my back on them because I know what they can do. I have seen what they can do. I still think they are one of the more talented teams in the SEC. Things just need to jell for them. I have seen teams go from nothing one year to champions the next year. Just look at Oklahoma the past few years. I have told others that it is just a matter of Divine Destiny. Maybe God had it planned this way because better things may be coming. I have always been taught that things happen for a reason."
Otis expanded on his commitment to Mississippi State by telling me that, "I knew what was in my heart and I knew if there was any school out there that could be competitive, it was Mississippi State. Coach Sherrill talked to us Saturday night and told us that the class he has coming in next year could be the class that takes Mississippi State to a National Championship. I also believe that because you have some of the top recruits in the nation right here in our state and (Mississippi State) is getting all of them."
[Otis, like J.J., was an absolute delight to talk to. Only 17 years old, Otis is mature beyond his age. He, like J.J., is very articulate and a very nice young man. While talking to him, I got the impression that he has that hard to find quality of being a leader. A trend that I have noticed while talking to the youngsters that have committed to MSU is that they are not only really nice kids but kids who come from winning programs and very disciplined programs like Provine, Brandon, Weir, Clarksdale, Warren Central, and Clinton. BTW, like a lot of our recruits, and other high school players for that matter, both young men check out Gene's Page and other MSU sites on the internet. - Gene Swindoll].
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com), the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.