Lance Pogue is a five time State Champion at South Panola. He's seen so many great players come through his program. Players like DT Peria Jerry (Ole Miss/1st round pick by Falcons), S Jamarca Sanford (Ole Miss/played 8 years in the NFL), and OL John Jerry (Ole Miss/ 8 year veteran of NFL) have all gone on to have successful careers in college and the NFL.
There have been countless others under Pogue's tenure that have gone on to have successful college careers as well. S Derek Pegues was an ALL-SEC selection for MSU. LB Tony Conner for Ole Miss has been a two time All-SEC performer and is expected to make a lot of money in the NFL after this season. DT Issac Gross has been an All-SEC performer. S Kendrick Market was a key component for MSU's secondary before injuries took it's toll. DB Demario Bobo lettered for MSU as well. RB Jeramie Griffin lettered for Alabama. DT Chris Strong, LB Temario Strong and WR/CB Nick Brassell have all contributed to the Rebel squad. DT Terrence Pope was the main cog for USM's defense for a number of years. OL Jermarcus Hardrick was a two year starter for Nebraska's offensive line. The list goes on and on and on.
There's no question that coach Pogue has set the gold standard inside the state of Mississippi. Five state championships in nine years will do that. He's seen his share of SEC talent come through his program and others as well. The first part of the series we conducted with coach Pogue we went over some of South Panola's top players on his current squad.
Today Pogue goes over a few players that play for other programs that he believes are going to be big time players on the next level. He also talks about a few that are being overlooked. We start with a pair of defenders from Grenada named LB J.J. Russell and S C.J. Avery.
"RB Darrell Henderson is a guy who played here that I think maybe got overlooked. I understand he's doing really well at Memphis. He enrolled there in January. Those two linebackers at Memphis that were at Grenada a few years back, Shareef White and Genard Avery, those guys are doing really well at Memphis. The two at Grenada now (Avery/Russell), we've played them in the past. I think they are rangy. I think the safety, Avery, is a rangy and athletic guy. I think he will be a safety on the next level although they use him more like a linebacker at Grenada. It's just like the things we have talked about all the way through. There's a lot of really good football players in Mississippi that are sometimes not high on someone's recruiting ranking, but they are good home grown football players. I hope that people stop and take a look at them. I think the production of Avery and White have had the last couple of years at Memphis is going to help. I think (Darrell) Henderson is going to show people that too. They will say, man, some of these guys sure did get away from us. They might look into that a little bit more. I sure hope so. You and I both know that you don't always have to be on the star list to be a really good player. Mississippi kind of prides itself in that, in my opinion."
The recruiting rankings have taken on a whole new level in today's era. Fans take these rankings as the bible. College coaches can be guilty of that as well. The lack of media exposure in Mississippi leaves some stones left unturned.
"Well you sure hope not," Pogue said when asked if the rankings have caused some of these Mississippians to get overlooked. "But you kind of think that in a way. You know recruiting, well you know first hand, recruiting has changed a lot here in the last several years. When you get into all of the rankings, and I understand that. It's fun to talk about and do those things, and we are all guilty of looking at what this or that guy is ranked. But I sometimes think the old fashion Mississippi guys. What I mean by that is that guys that are tough and have heart and guts. I think that sometimes those are the guys that are getting overlooked, and those are the players that will benefit your program the most. They should be the heart and soul of anyone's team. I might be biased, and I probably am, but I'll take an old fashion Mississippi boy over any player from any state."
A couple more players that Pogue has competed against have caught his eye as well.
"Obviously the outside linebacker at Starkville, Willie Gay, he's a top notch linebacker and playmaker. I remember him in 2014 when we played them. He was just a sophomore. Everybody knew then that he was such a great talent. For sure he'll be a highly recruited guy. You know that it's been crazy the last several years in Mississippi. What an outstanding crop of receivers Mississippi has had the last several years. You think about (A.J.) Brown, (D.K.) Metcalf, the kid at Oak Grove (Jordan Duncan) that signed with California. The year before that Starkville had a great receiver (Ralph Leonard) that went to Florida Atlantic that just transferred to East Mississippi CC. You know Southaven had a great one (Terrence Davis) that is playing basketball at Ole Miss now. We played all those guys in 2014. It was a phenomenal crop of receivers. I'm not sure we are going to have that type of crop in the future, but the thing I know about Mississippi. You are always going to find some defensive linemen. Always some DB type guys, corner and safety type guys. Always be some linebacker type guys. Offensively it seems you can always scratch up a couple good linemen and a stud receiver or two and get a good (running) back. In Mississippi you can always find some guys like that. They may be diamonds in the ruff. They may not be highly ranked but historically our state always comes up with those type kids."
Pogue's top pass rusher on his defense last season, Dre Porter, signed with MSU but failed to qualify. He enrolled at East MS CC in January with hopes of getting out next summer.
"He's the best pass rusher that we've had, and we have had some good ones. But you are talking about a guy that is 6-foot-4 and when he gets to about 240 with his speed and range and off the ball first step; the sky is the limit for him. I'm looking for him to develop, and all the sudden, really soon, be at an SEC school and be one of those dominate pass rushers every Saturday. He's trying very hard to get out after one season there. He's already enrolled so he's getting a jump start on it. His goal is to have four years to play three. That's his goal and he's working really hard to achieve it."
Which schools are showing the most interest in Dre right now?
"Ole Miss and MSU but you name it and they have requested about Dre. All of the SEC schools are looking for guys with that kind of pass rushing ability. He's got those skills that can't be taught. He kind of reminds me a little bit of Ole Miss defensive end, Marquis Haynes. When he gets his size. Dre has a great frame. He just needs to put on some muscle and girth. His speed and athleticism is crazy. His arm length allows him to be a real rangy guy. Dre's motor is really good. When he gets to 235 to 240 pounds I think you will see him do a lot of the same things that Marquis has done for Ole Miss' defense. I see so many similarities with those two guys."
Yancy Porter is the recruiting analyst for the Ole Miss Spirit and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org