Mississippians in the SEC

Year in and year out Mississippi produces some of the top college football players in the south. Because of the fertile recruiting soil in the Magnolia state, many college programs cast their nets across state lines in an attempt to catch a prospect or two. The past five years several players have gone on to play in the SEC, but where in the state do they come from and where do they go?

In the past half decade, nine SEC programs have signed a high school player from Mississippi. The only three SEC schools who have not landed a Magnolia stater during this period are Arkansas, Florida and Kentucky.

2003 saw an amazing 33 Mississippi prospects ink with SEC schools. Mississippi State led that year with 18 youngsters agreeing to stay home followed by Ole Miss who had nine and Alabama, Auburn and LSU who signed two a piece.

Mississippi produced five four star prospects in 2003 and all five elected to sign with Mississippi State. (Quinton Culberson, Omarr Conner, Deljuan Robinson, Devrick Hampton, and Donovan Davis).

Future All-SEC players Quentin Groves and Will Arnold were rated three stars and both signed out of state with Auburn and LSU respectively.

The 2004 class fell far short of the 2003 numbers. With only 19 SEC signees, a downward trend began. Mississippi State and Ole Miss both signed seven in state prospects, while Auburn, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina lured away the other five.

The State's top two prospects Xavier Mitchell and Blake Barnes elected to go out of state to Tennessee and Georgia respectively.

Future NFL second round draft pick Brandon Jackson of Horn Lake was also in the 2004 class. The talented running back signed with Nebraska.

2005 brought the lowest total of the period with only 15 Mississippi prospects signing with SEC schools. Mississippi State led the way with 10 signees, Ole Miss pulled in three and Alabama and Tennessee both signed one.

Mississippi produced two U.S. Army All-American in this class with Jerrell Powe and Derek Pegues. Both prospects were awarded five stars and both decided to sign with in state schools, Pegues with Mississippi State and Powe with Ole Miss.

Two highly recruited players from the class, Jimmy Johns and Josh McNeil, both signed with out of state schools Alabama and Tennessee.

22 Mississippians made the decision to sign with SEC schools in the 2006 signing class. Ole Miss led the way with seven in state signings and Mississippi State had five. Alabama led all out of state schools with four prospects, LSU had two, Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee and Vanderbilt had one each.

Six players from the Magnolia State earned four stars including the state's top overall prospect Allen Walker of Olive Branch. Ole Miss signed three of these prospects, LSU two and Mississippi State one.

Mississippi State's one would turn out to be future All-SEC Freshmen running back Anthony Dixon.

The most recent crop of Mississippi's finest by and large stayed home. 20 of 24 SEC signees inked with either Mississippi State or Ole Miss. The Bulldogs led the way with 15 and Ole Miss landed five. Auburn was tops among the out-of-staters with two signees and LSU and Alabama both picked up one.

Seven players garnered a four star rating and Mississippi State nabbed three of them including Gatorade Player of the Year Derek Sherrod. Ole Miss signed the state's top overall prospect in Chris Strong who was also selected to the US Army All-American game.

The class was memorable for it's large number of total division one signees 43, but also for the last minute defection of the State's top running back, Robert Elliot, from Ole Miss to Mississippi State on signing day.

For the five year period 112 Mississippi High School players signed a National Letter of Intent to a Southeastern Conference school on signing day. 56 of those youngsters signed with Mississippi State, 30 signed with Ole Miss, eight with Alabama, six with Auburn, five with LSU, three with Tennessee, two with Georgia and one each with South Carolina and Vanderbilt. During the same time period Southern Miss signed 39 in state players.

When breaking down the signees by region and classification, the results are rather suprising.

Of the 112 signees, 56 players played their high school ball for a public school in the southern part of the state, 50 for a public school from the northern part of the state and six prospects came from the Mississippi Private School ranks.

The top classification was 5A with 43 players, 4A produced 34 prospects, 3A had 15, 2A sent 9 on to the SEC and just two 1A players put their pen to SEC paper.

To take things a step farther, 5A South schools produced 23 SEC signees to their 5A Northern counterparts 20. Tying for second was 4A South with 20, to the 4A North's 14.

While the south can claim two of the top three marks for SEC production, the top district was Region 1-5A. The Region is helped by top programs South Panola and Olive Branch, but South Panola gets bragging rights with eight SEC signees. Of the Tigers eight, four signed with Ole Miss, three with Mississippi State and one with Alabama.

The 2008 class is already coming together for the most part and the Bulldogs and Rebels appear to be doing a good job of closing the borders. At this time only Picayune's Drew Cole is firmly committed to an out of state school.

There is a lot of time until signing day and the outcome of the home teams' seasons could certainly play a large part in where the top Mississippi products end up. Stay tuned.

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