[Premium article] Aires Nelson, a Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen selection, is a 6-3, 200-lb quarterback who attends Cleveland (MS) East Side High School. I caught up with Aries on Tuesday night, December 4th. What follows is the substance of our discussion.

When asked how school was going Aries responded, "It's going fine, I got the points I needed to qualify academically, but I plan to take the ACT again in February."

That's good news for the Bulldogs and Bulldog fans because Aries has verbally stated that he will attend school and play football next year at Mississippi State.

When asked why he chose Mississippi State, his response was one of hopes for the future and love of family. "They're putting together a nice recruiting class, and I am an athletic quarterback similar in style to Wayne Madkin but faster, I think. It's important to me to stay in-state, because, although I have a younger brother, I'm the baby. People say my brother is a better athlete than I am. He was the kickoff man this year and is just a freshman. Another reason is that I want to stay (close to) home and I also chose State (because) we can do something special such as win a national championship. We have the athletes. People talk about Florida athletes, Florida State, Miami and Florida. They (Florida) probably recruit mostly in their state, but of all the other schools in the south that are winning, many are winning with Mississippi players. For the most part, I think Mississippi players are the best players."

I've seen Aries play three times in the last year, and must say that each time I was impressed that he has the quarterback skills and athleticism to play major college football, including the highly competitive SEC. At Shannon last year, I saw him throw 'bullets' accurately while running to his left, and break three tackles while running from the 20-yard line on a touchdown run that was wiped out by a penalty. In short, for whatever it's worth, I think the young man is more athletic than our very own Wayne Madkin.

I asked Aries what schools were still contacting him. His response, "Ole Miss, Grambling, Jackson State, and Marshall are the schools still calling me. Grambling seems to be after me the hardest. They're recruiting me to play quarterback. Ole Miss was recruiting me earlier as an athlete, but now they are talking as if they want me as quarterback, but I can't be sitting behind Eli (Manning). But really, as long as I get a real shot at the (quarterback) job, that's all that matters."

Aries has been to Starkville to watch the Memphis and LSU games this season. He will visit Mississippi State officially Jan. 13-14. Although he has not set dates, the only other visits he plans to take are Grambling, Jackson State, and Marshall. The coaching recruiting Aires are: Mississippi State (Smith), Mississippi (Hobby), Grambling (head coach Williams) and Marshall (McHale).

I asked Aries what his statistics for the year were. He told me that, "I had 13 touchdowns passing to 5 interceptions and 10 TD rushing." Aries gives former East Side head coach and Mississippi Valley State star and current interim head coach Coach Totten the primary credit for molding him. "He's the one who balanced me out offensively. We ran the power I and ran the ball to set up the pass." (he should feel right at home quarterbacking the Maroon and White then).

Aries said that Coach Totten, prior to leaving, told him that by the time he was a senior, big schools "would be knocking down your door." Well, he turned out to be a true prophet. Mississippi State, Memphis, Mississippi, and LSU have all offered scholarships, according to Aries.

Charles Johnson is a recruiting correspondent for Gene's Page (, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet.

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