[Premium article] Read what several of the top football underclasmen in the state of Mississippi said about how their seasons are going and who is starting to show recruiting interest in them.

One of the top 20 junior players in the state of Mississippi, according to The Clarion-Ledger, Steve Pahlman is a 6-foot-4, 275-pound offensive lineman from Forrest County High School with 5.3 forty speed. Steve has helped lead his team to a playoff berth this season. "Our season is going good, we are in the playoffs," said Steve. "We play Wilkinson County at Wilkinson County. If we win this weekend, the main team that we will have to face is probably Greene County. We played them last Friday and they beat us about 21 to 14 on the road. We were beating them in the first half."

With his team playing well and in the playoffs, Steve also said he has done well this season. "I am doing pretty good. According to The Clarion-Ledger, I am one of the top 20 to 21 juniors in the state of Mississippi."

Also participating in power-lifting, Steve benches 295 pounds while squatting 450 and dead-lifting 570. "I'm about to go through power-lifting, so I'm sure that will jump up," Steve mentioned.

With Steve being a junior, he can now receive letters from colleges. "I have gotten several," said Steve. "I got a letter from (Mississippi) State today. I've gotten a lot from Auburn and Ole Miss. I also got invited to one of Auburn's games, the junior prospect game. I wasn't able to make it because most of our games have been away so I didn't get to make it."

As far as camps, Steve attended State's last summer. He mentioned that, "I am planning on going back to (MSU's) camp because I am very interested in State."

Another player on the Forrest County High School team that is a possible prospect is Brandon Roberts. He is about 6-foot-0 and weighs 240 pounds. He is very good on defense and plays the defensive end position.

Blake Barnes Blake Barnes is a 6-foot-3, 190-pound sophomore quarterback from Baldwyn (MS) High School. I talked to his dad on November 7th. According to David Barnes, "(Blake) is second in the state in touchdown passes and among the top two or three in total yards for a quarterback. He has been very fortunate this year. He has been in the Clarion-Ledger four different times this season in the (top players section). Baldwyn plays in Baldwyn against Water Valley."

David mentioned the fact that, "(Blake) has a lot of good players around him this season. Things have really worked out well for the team."

Although football has been his main focus this fall, David mentioned that, "(Blake) is in the punt, pass, kick contest. We are going to New Orleans in two weeks to compete in that. He has advanced in that mostly due to his passing." When asked how well he passed, he said, "he threw one a little over 60 yards at the Batesville punt, pass and kick regional." What is so amazing about this number is Blake is just 15 years old. He won't be 16 until January.

Not just resting on his play during the regular football season, Blake has been to several summer football camps. That was where the coaches first became aware of him. "He went to the seven-on-seven (camp at Mississippi State)," David said. "Coach Sherrill and Coach Woods both talked to him. He was encouraged by them. We then went to the Alabama camp. Coach Koenning talked to him there. He wanted to meet me. He said that they were impressed with Blake. He wanted me to keep them updated on him. When he went to the Bowden Camp, he won the junior award. Tommy Bowden was impressed with him at the Bowden camp. He wanted to be kept up to date on his progress. Everywhere he has been, he has received a lot of encouragement from all of the coaches. He also went to Tennessee. They were really the only one that didn't indicate that they were really impressed with him. It was such a large camp, and he was with junior players, so he was down in the younger group and didn't get a lot of attention there."

When asked what camps he would be attending this coming summer, David said, "(Blake) wants to add Florida and has talked some about Purdue because they have a really passing offense. That is the kind of offense he is interested in."

While discussing Blake, David Barnes mentioned a junior on Baldwyn High School's team that hasn't been publicized that much this year but is very good. His name is Willis Bean. Willis, according to David, "is exceptional. He is probably a 5-foot-11, 175-pound running back/wide receiver. He had about 268 total yards this past Friday night. He is an exceptional running back."

Pass Christian High School's Brad Steube (6-4, 285, 5.5) is an up and coming junior offensive lineman. Brad, who turns 18 next June 2nd, has helped lead his team to the Mississippi playoffs this season. This Friday night they play Laurel High School. Laurel, coming in with an 8-2 record, is ranked in the top twenty in Mississippi. While Laurel will be excellent competition for them, Pass Christian has also played well this season, posting a 9-1 record. According to Brad, of the teams that they have played this season, "there have only been a couple of games that were close. Amite County was close. D'Iberville was a tough team to play. We lost to them 14 to 0. They had been winning 40 and 50 to nothing. Our defense really put it out that game. Our offense just couldn't get it started against them."

Individually, Brad has played well this season. "The first couple of games I was getting 3 and 4 pancake blocks a game," Brad told me. "I haven't made below 80% blocking in any game except for one and that was 78 or 79%." Although he hasn't played against any guys with his combination of height and weight, he has played against quite a few players who weighed in the 300 pound range. "The defensive end from D'Iberville was 6-foot-2, 225. That was the tallest player that I have faced. There have been tackles that weighed 300 pounds but they aren't that tall." Speaking about what he does well, Brad mentioned that, "I do pretty good coming off the ball. My only real problem is my finishing. I move them out of the hole pretty well. I'm working on my feet. I keep getting better as I go along. I am better than my past years. I am definitely going to work on my feet more to try and get faster." While Brad will work to improve his foot quickness, he already has excellent strength. Speaking of his strength, Brad said, "my last bench press was 305 to 310. My squat is 450 to 460." What is amazing about Brad is how far he has come during the short time that he has played organized football. Brad said, "I never played middle or pee wee football. The first time I played was in the 9th grade."

Switching to recruiting, Brad talked about the schools that are sending him letters. "I got (a letter) from Mississippi State. I am also getting letters from Michigan, Tulane and Ole Miss. Those are the only ones right now. USM was sending letters to me but quit after a while."

Brad camped at several college football camps this past summer. "I went to the MSU and LSU camps this past summer. At LSU, Maurice Hardnett (A teammate of his. See Hardnett info below.) and I got camp all-star, me for offensive lineman and he for linebacker. (Terry Lewis) talked to me at the MSU camp and another (MSU coach) talked to me even more. He told me that they would try to come and look at me when they got a chance. The head offensive line coach at LSU, George Yarno, spoke to me at the LSU camp."

While talking to him, Brad Steube mentioned a teammate of his who he considers to be a possible prospect, Maurice Hardnett. Maurice, a junior fullback/linebacker, is approximately 5-foot-11 in height and weighs 225 pounds. According to Brad, Maurice has also been receiving letters from most of the schools that he has been receiving them from. When asked what he saw in Maurice that made him feel that Maurice is a prospect, Brad said that he, "has good pursuit to the ball when on defense."

Andy Bunkelman One of the top junior offensive linemen (quick tackle) in the state of Mississippi this year, the 6-foot-4, 265-pound Andy Bunkelman plays for the Ackerman (MS) High School team. According to Andy, he is receiving letters from Mississippi State and the University of Florida. Andy wasn't sure how Florida found out about him since he has never been to any of their football camps. "The only camp that I have ever attended was Mississippi State's," said Andy. "I really didn't know anybody knew about me. I figured that my being so close to Mississippi State, they would see my games. I was surprised when I received the letter from Florida because I didn't know they knew about me." As stated earlier, Andy plays offense. He does not play on the defensive side of the ball. Andy attended the Mississippi State vs. Kentucky game.

Trey Powell Baldwyn High School's offensive lineman Trey Powell (6-foot-4, 310) is a top junior offensive lineman (left tackle) in Mississippi this season.

Trey has helped lead his team into the playoffs against Water Valley. Not only has his team done well but Trey has also done well individually. "Everybody says I am doing pretty good," Trey said. "I have 90-something pancake blocks this season." Baldwyn has made those 90+ pancake blocks in ten games.

One of the reasons that Trey has had so many pancake blocks can be attributed to his great strength. "Before football practice began I benched about 350 pounds and squatted 500 pounds," Trey mentioned. Trey has built that strength from being on Baldwyn's power-lifting team. "Last year, I made it to the state (tournament) in power-lifting," Trey said when talking about his strength.

Trey, since he is a junior, has begun experiencing the recruiting process by receiving numerous letters from colleges. "Ole Miss has sent me letters and (Mississippi) State sent me one Saturday," Trey said when asked who was sending him letters. Although a Mississippi State fan growing up, he said, "I'm really open-minded at this point." Ole Miss and Mississippi State were the only two schools whose summer camps he attended this past summer.

Trey has been to several college football games this season. "I have been to two Ole Miss games, the Alabama and Murray State games," Trey said. He, along with teammate Blake Barnes, have also attended at least one Mississippi State game this season.

Another junior player to watch in Mississippi is Tupelo's Davious Gillespie. Davious is the first cousin of the Universtiy of Florida's running back Robert Gillespie. According to his teammate, Bo Baxter, "he is something else. He is a 6-foot-1, 205 pound running back. He didn't play much as a sophomore but got really big this past summer. He has 1,100 yards. He also makes good grades. I think he will be a definite division-one prospect."

Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at

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