It's not unusual for me to hear about youngsters as early as their 8th or 9th grade years. It's always fun to follow those kids to see if they develop into D-I prospects. Some do, some don't.
One of those players who really made a splash in the football world is former MSU tight end Donald Lee. As any MSU fan knows, Lee is now playing for the Miami Dolphins in the NFL. I first found out about Lee when he was just a freshman at then Maben (MS) High School. If you looked close enough, even back then you could tell he had something special.
Fast forward to this year.
Another player that I heard about when he was just in the 8th grade is Starkville High School's Derrick Outlaw. While you can tell he has talent, he hasn't quite reached the status of a Donald Lee yet. But that could very well change soon, because there is no doubt that Derrick, one of the top senior-to-be defensive ends in Mississippi, has all the tools to be a D-I player. Not only do I believe that, but, obviously, several college coaches do as well, at least based on the number that visited Starkville High School this past spring.
"Coaches from Memphis, Ole Miss, Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech, Alabama, Tulane and Mississippi State have come by," said the 6-3, 250-pound Outlaw. "Mississippi State's Guy Holliday and J.B. Grimes came by. Ole Miss really looked everything over throughout the practice."
A couple of those same coaches have called him the past couple of weeks, letting him know that they are definitely going to keep an eye on him this summer and next fall.
"I've received a couple of phone calls, one from Southern Miss and one from Ole Miss," said Outlaw.
Derrick, who enjoys playing defensive end, admitted he was a little surprised when the Southern Miss coach said that he wouldn't mind seeing him play tight end.
With spring football practice complete and this year's academic school year finished, Outlaw, who can bench press 325 pounds and squat 400, can now turn his attention to the all important summer football camps. He's already got in mind which ones he plans on attending.
"I am definitely going to Mississippi State's camps, the Senior Day camp and the passing camp," said Outlaw. "I think I am also going to Alabama and Ole Miss. If they have it the same time that I'm up there (visiting Travis Outlaw), I may go to Oregon's. I'm also thinking about Auburn."
Although it is still very early in the recruiting process, Outlaw has several colleges that he is most interested in at this point.
"My favorites are Mississippi State, Southern Miss, Ole Miss, Auburn, Alabama and Memphis," said Outlaw.
As for the all-important academics, Outlaw, an average student in the classroom up until this year, has really stepped it up in the classroom this year. Because of that improvement, he shouldn't have any problem qualifying.
With a combination of excellent 4.9 speed, good size, excellent strength and improving academics, don't be surprised to see this young man's recruitment continue to pick up as the year goes on.
Gene Swindoll is the publisher/owner of Gene's Page (http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com), the source for Mississippi State sports on TheInsiders.com sports network on the internet. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.