"Naturally, a kid that is 6-5, 215 is the thing they (college coaches) look for. The thing that sets him apart from a lot of kids is he has an unbelievably strong arm. He can make all the throws you want him to make. He has the ability to throw the ball on the money when he has to or he can lay it up for the receiver to run under down the field. His physical size and arm strength is what is so impressive about him. He also has a tough mentality about him. He doesn't take anything off the defensive linemen and linebackers. He will mix it up with them if he has to. The more he plays on a higher level, the better he will get. He started for us during the middle part of his freshman year. He has played about 27 games and won 23 or 24 games and lost 4 since he has been starting. He is a winner."
Is he the best that you have ever seen in your 10 years of coaching?
"Oh, there is no doubt about it. His talent is unbelievable. It is not even close to being tapped."
I know recruiting analyst Tom Lemming visited him this spring. What did he say about Cliff?
"Tom Lemming said he is not as nationally known as some of the bigger city kids but he ranks him right up there with the best because of his ability. He just doesn't have his name out there right now. I think that is coming. I think Cliff Davis, before August gets here, will be known across the South and maybe in other parts of the country."
What have the college coaches said about Cliff?
"I have been contacted by every coach in the Southeastern Conference. Everyone of them that I have talked to have said he is, without question, an SEC-caliber player. I feel he will be recruited by every school in the SEC."
He is also a great baseball player, isn't he?
"He really is. He throws 92 to 93 (mph) sometimes. I believe he started for the baseball team as a pitcher since his 9th grade year. He has a heck of a future. I think he may one of those special recruits that gets the opportunity to play both sports in the Southeastern Conference. That is a heck of an honor to be in that category."
Talk a little about your senior-to-be wide receiver Eric Marshall.
"Eric is 6-2, 190. He is one of those big wide receivers all these guys want to have to match up against those corners. He is an exceptional athlete. He has great hands. He can run and jump. He can dunk (with two hands) a basketball. He is physical with the DB. He can use his hands to get himself into position to catch the ball. It is hard for a DB to guard him one on one because he can use his hands so well to get a guy off of him. Another thing about Eric is he has the ability to make the big plays, not just the average plays. He can change a game with his plays. He is the kind of guy who can go up in a crowd and bring the ball down and run it 40 yards for a score."
When did you first see Eric's special talent?
"We knew in junior high he was talented but he was a sophomore when we really though this kid has a shot to be great. In practice, as a sophomore, he was making big plays. Last year he had a great year. Since the end of last year until now, he has really progressed. He has gotten a lot stronger and has gained some weight. Eric could wind up being 200 to 205 and still be as fast and athletic as he is now. I feel like his future is unbelievable."
What do the college coaches say about him?
"The same thing that I have said. They feel he has a chance to be a big, physical wide receivers."
(Eric caught 28 passes for 658 yards and 12 TDs his junior season.-Gene)
The next guy is senior-to-be running back Kentrell Brooks.
"When you first see him you notice that he is not very tall (Kentrell is 5-9.-Gene). But people don't understand what kind of body this guy has. He is 205. He set two state powerlifting records. He is so compact and powerful. He is so physical that it is hard for people to tackle him. His speed is 4.6 all day and sometimes even faster than that. The thing about him is he is a true north-south runner. He will never lose yardage. You will never be second and 15 with him. He has been starting since his sophomore year."
What were his stats last season?
"He gained about 2,200 yards last season and 1,100 as a sophomore." (He also scored 20 TDs as a junior.-Gene).
The next guy I want you to talk about is senior-to-be offensive tackle Chad Tedder.
"He is a big kid (6-3, 295) with great strength. He has a lot of ability. If he becomes a little more aggressive, he has a bright future. He will be a three-year starter for us next year."
What are the college coaches saying about him?
"The same thing. They say he has good size, talent and feet. They just want him to become a little more aggressive."
Have you noticed if he has become more aggressive this spring?
"I have. I think that the strength that he has gained has made him more aggressive. I think if he will continue doing that through his senior year, somebody will really be interested in him."
Does he also play defense?
"He plays defensive tackle some but he will be an offensive lineman in college."
Next up are your juniors-to-be. The first one is LB/RB Michael Johnson. You mentioned earlier that the Alabama coach mentioned him to you when he saw him in practice.
"The Alabama coach thought he has a lot of potential. He will start for us at linebacker and he is a reserve tailback. He is 5-11, 190 to 195 and a 4.5 forty." (Benches 275, squats.-Gene)
What sets him apart?
"He has the ability, if the ball is on the other side of the field, to run the ball carrier down. He is always around the ball. He is relentless. He is a great pass-rusher. He can make plays, he is a playmaker. I knew in the 8th grade he had a lot of talent but his 9th grade was when we really knew we had someone special. His ability is unlimited."
What do you like about junior-to-be DE/RB Phillip Drungole?
"He is a strong-side defensive end for us who also plays linebacker. He started as a sophomore. He also plays a little fullback for us. He is a load at fullback. He is 6-0 and about 250. He has great strength and is a very tough kid. It is difficult for these high school kids to handle him because he is so strong he overpowers them. Two years from now, if he gets a little taller, he will be what (the college coaches) are looking for. Even if he doesn't get any taller, he could still play on the next level as a noseguard type guy at the 280 to 290-pound range. I've seen Mississippi State over the years play with players like that. He is also a 4.0 student." (Benches 370, squats 510, 4.8 forty, 20 inch biceps. In size and frame, he reminds me of MSU freshman noseguard Ronald Fields.-Gene)
The last junior-to-be is Curry Johnson (5-7, 160, 4.4).
"For us, he is a utility type guy. He started at free safety last year but he is primarily an inside receiver for us. We'll play him a little at tailback also. I see him in college as one of those small, inside receivers that a lot of coaches like to use. He can fly. He is a 4.4 forty. He has great quickness and change directions on a dime."
Thanks for allowing me to interview you, Coach Pogue.
"More than happy to help out."
Note: Many players physically develop later than others and there is no way to know this until it happens. Therefore, the players mentioned above may not be the only potential D-I prospects on the team.-Gene
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com), the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports and Mississippi high school sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.