MS/AL All-Star Classic Update

[Premium article] MOBILE - A total of 12 Mississippi State football signees are on the Coast this week for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star football game. It's the 15th year for the Classic, and Mississippi trails 9-5 in the overall series.

In fact, the Mississippi team hasn't won in three years. It has lost five of the past six games.

"Maybe some of these guys we've got here can help us end the streak," said South Pike's Greg Wall, who heads the Mississippi team. "We are preparing them to try and do just that."

Mississippi State's 13 signees, including a prospective manager, are the largest contingent pledged to any college. That number could dwindle by game time with Brandon runner Jerious Norwood already having backed out due to foot problems and several other Magnolia State All-Stars not expected to play.

Ole Miss signee Chris Herring of Ole Miss was one of the smattering of Mississippi people who have opted out.

The same is true on the Alabama team, where as many as three players backed out prior to or during this hot week on the Coast.

"There is no comparing one year's team with another," said Daphne High coach Steve Savarese, leader of the Alabama All-Stars. "Every year you have people who get injured or can't play for one reason or another. You go with what you've got. The offense and the defense are always dictated by the game itself. You try to build toward your strengths and hide your weaknesses."

Mississippi wide receiver Tee Milons, one of the MSU signees, said winning was important but competing was imperative.

"You have to be focused and I expect we will be," Milons said. "I'm anxious to go up against some of these (Alabama) players."

Darren Williams, a Parade All-American player at Clarksdale, said an element of his game is being taken away by All-Star rules changes.

"You can't jam your man at the line of scrimmage, unless it's inside the 10-yard line," said Williams, who will look to bolster MSU's defensive backfield when he comes to campus later this summer. "I'm a physical-style player and I want to hit those guys but they don't let you do that here except right by the goal line. I'd rather be hitting a little more."

Kicker Scott Shurden of Neshoba Central will boot any extra points or field goals the Mississippi team trys on Saturday. Kick-off is at 7 p.m. inside Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

"He's my ace in the hole," Wall said of Shurden, who holds the state record for most field goals by a prep player in a season with 18.

Shurden made 37 of 66 FG tries over his career but was 155-of-160 on extra points. His longest FG was 48 yards and he'll battle two or three other kickers in camp for MSU later this summer.

"There was a guy that transferred in from Northwest Community College who really had a good spring and I know it will be some tough competition there," Shurden said. "My thing is to let God handle it and just kick as well as I can. I'll go to State on July 1 and get myself ready to kick."


Pat Wright is a free-lance correspondent for Gene's Page.

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