Future Rebels perform bright in MS playoffs

One thing that jumps out at you about the '07 commitment class is one thing; they play for winners. As the old saying goes, winning breeds winning.

As I got out my Clarion Ledger this morning, the front page had a headline that read, "FB Griffin steps up, LB Strong holds on."

I thought to myself, yep, they have been doing this their whole careers. They are winners, in every sense of the word.

Then I look down to read the article and it goes like this in the very first paragraph.

"South Panola's Chris Strong and Jeramie Griffin have lost just one football game since the seventh grade."

There is that word again, winning.

Griffin, oh by the way, rushed for 3 TD's in a 28-21 victory. He literally carried the Tiger's on his back against a very tough and stingy Provine defense. It is this type of versatility that has the Rebels believing that he can be a multiple back, where he can play both the fullback and tailback positions. Jeramie now has 1, 166 rushing and 17 Td's while sharing the carries with do it all LeRoy Diggs (Ole Miss commit) and Top 100 junior Darrius Barksdale.

This is one quote that says it all about Griffin's will to win,

"I had to step up my game, said the 6' 0", 230 pounder to the Clarion Ledger. "Sometimes when your team is down, you have to step it up and be the backbone for your team."

And what about Chris Strong, the Army All-American that is a consensus Top 5 linebacker in the country.

The 6' 3", 260 pounder was the catalyst for the Tiger's defense. Here is what the Clarion Ledger said about Strong:

"The hard hitting Strong led the defense, which had to step it up to help the Tigers overcome four turnovers. His biggest play came early in the third quarter on fourth and one when he stuffed a Provine run with the game tied at 14-14."

Then you had to love what he had to say about the game and what he plans on doing next year at Ole Miss.

"I had to step it up and show Patrick Willis (P-Willie attended the game and stood on the sidelines) that Ole Miss will still have a good linebacker that can average 13-15 tackles next year when he leaves," said Chris to the Clarion Ledger.

Is that music for your "Ole Miss" ears or what!

And do not forget, the third Ole Miss commit off of the Tiger's squad, LeRoy Diggs, has been the starting QB for the Tigers last two state championship teams and has led their team in rushing the past two seasons.

***I flip to the high school playoff section of the Clarion Ledger after reading the story on South Panola/Provine.

The next title read "Eagles make the next move toward restoring tradition."

This was a story on the West Bolivar (Stanley Porter) and Okolona (Robert Elliott) game. West Bolivar won 27-8.

As I am reading about the game, I come across this quote.

"There's a lot of confidence in this defense," said senior defensive lineman Stanley Porter, an Ole Miss commit whose tackle for a -7 yard loss on fourth and goal ended a 19 play Okolona drive in the 3rd quarter. "That's our strong point. Our offense has to get a lot better."

Okolona is led by Ole Miss commit, Robert Elliott.

Robert is pretty much a one man team for Okolona, and if truth be known, they would not even be sniffing the playoffs it were not for their dynamic running back.

This is what the Ledger read,

"Elliott carried the ball 27 times for 160 rushing yards, the most allowed by Rosedale in 2006. Despite Rosedale's speed, Elliott turned in one of the most spectacular plays of this or any season, taking a lateral 64 yards for a score in the 4th quarter after appearing to be stopped in his tracks for a minimum gain."

"That's Robert," Okolona coach Andrew Aldridge said to the Clarion Ledger. "He's a competitor to the end and always will be."

See a common theme here?

I certainly do. It is called playing with a winning attitude. And folks, there is no bigger time to see a man's will to win than the playoffs.

***I head to the box scores on the Ledger's back page next. I run across the Charleston/Senatobia game.

Charleston won 26 - 20 over Senatobia in large part to another Ole Miss commit, RBJohnny Brown.

Johnny has had a high ankle sprain all season and missed the majority of the season due to the injury. But when it came playoff time, Brown has carried them on his back. In the first round, he rushed for 187 yards and 3 TD's. This past Friday against Senatobia in the second round, Brown had 168 yards rushing and 2 TD's, including the go ahead touchdown in the second half.

***Last night I had the chance to scout the Oxford/West Point 2nd round match up at the Charger's stadium.

The Rebels currently have one commitment off of Oxford's team, Jamison Hughes, and they are pinning their ears back to gain a second from their star linebacker, Jonathan Frink.

To put into perspective what these two mean to their team, I will give you a little history lesson. Oxford had never gone through a season undefeated until last season. This year they they won their first 8 regular season games. If you are not counting, that equals 18 reguar season games in a row they had won until their loss to #2 ranked Clarksdale.

These two will leave their mark on the Charger's program for many years to come. They literally put this traditionally rich "basketball and baseball" school on the football map.

Oxford lost 27-23 against West Point last night on a heartbreaking fumble inside West Point's territory on a huge first down gain with 3 minutes to go.

Jamison gutted it out, I mean gutted this game out. Hughes had his leg bent backward while planted on the ground from a chop block. He went down hard and stayed on the ground for several minutes in what looked like a very bad injury. They carried him to the sidelines and Hughes was in tears. I was standing literally five feet from him where he was getting worked on. Hughes looked up at the doctor and said, "tape this thing up. My team has to have me out there. There is no way I am not going back out there."

Hughes was back in at left cornerback on the next series.

In the first half, Jamison picked off a West Point pass when the Green Wave were driving to take the half time lead. It was a beautiful read by Jamison, as he seemed to know where the route was going before the receiver. Hughes returned it for 27 yards, but he probably ran a total of 75 yards east and west to gain what he did.

Frink, on the other hand, continually "pounded" the Green Wave's running backs and qb's when going down the middle.

Johnathan is a 6' 1", 228 pound middle linebacker and plays a very physical game. He is a true run stopper that can really get off of his blockers well and has good enough speed to move side line to side line. Frink is everything you are looking for on the next level.

When it was 3rd and 5 with 3 minutes remaining and Oxford had to have a stop, Frink grabbed his teammates in the huddle, slapped them all on the heads, and said, "we have to make this play. I do not care if you break a leg making it, we have to make it."

Frink was growling as he was waiting on the snap. Then boom, the snap was made. West Point' do it all, Jamar Shelton, ran off tackle and Frink made the biggest hit of the game. I shook my head thinking they would literally have to wheel me off in a ambulance if that were me taking that lick.

Johnathan can flat out lay the wood on you and he is an emotional leader, exactly what the Rebels need for their defense.

***Lastly, I would be doing an injustice if I did not speak about West Point's RB Jamar Shelton.

Folks, we missed the boat on this kid when we did our rankings. This kid is a difference maker.

Jamar is a 5' 11", 185 pound tailback for the Green Wave.

Shelton had to sit out the first half suspension for an incident in a game last week. Oxford carried a 10-7 half-time lead while Shelton was out.

Then comes Jamar to return the opening kickoff of the second half. He was jumping up and down in his stance just itching to get the ball to make a play. You could see the determination in his eyes. Luckily for the Chargers, they kicked short and away from Jamar.

I say it was a good thing, but then again, on the first play they pitched the ball to Shelton and he danced through the Oxford defense and turned on the jets for a 65 yard TD and more importantly, the Green Wave took the lead for the first time.

Oxford answered back with a 75 yard drive. But on the next possession, he took a hand-off, ran over two defenders, made a couple more miss and he was off for a 73 yard run and West Point regained the lead.

The game went back and forth. Oxford scored again to retake the lead. It was 3rd and 13 for West Point with 7 minutes remaining. They threw a screen to Jamar, he literally broke 4 tackles, made three more miss, and outran the Oxford defense for a 52 yard TD.

Jamar has the ability to run through you, around you, make you miss, and has breakaway speed. And even more importantly, he can cut on a dime and has great quickness and can get back to top end speed in a bat of an eye.

As we said before, he is what you term as a difference maker. It will be interesting to see what develops with this talented youngster during the second half of the recruiting season. One of the West Point coaches told me that he is not receiving "consistent" interest from any D1 program right now. The coach did inform me that Ole Miss was waiting on his ACT score, and that USM had come to scout him two weeks back.

Film from Jamar Shelton's Jr season

***'08 running back commit, Ken Davis, returned to action in Tupelo's 19-10 loss to Clinton.

Ken was simply tearing it up before he had a severe MCL sprain, which was once feared as a tear.

The 6' 2", 220 pound back was averaging over 160 yards a game in Class 5A before injury. And get this, Ken was only playing in one half during the majority of the games due to cramping problems.

Ken will head into next year as Mississippi's top back.

***This was just a recap of how the Mississippi commits performed in the first and second rounds of the playoffs.

OT Bradley Sowell's team, Hernando, did not advance in the playoffs. But Sowell really developed his senior season and the 6' 8", 340 pound lineman is itching to make an impact for the Rebels team next season.

In closing, the Rebels are bringing in a crop that is not only talented, but they are also "winners".

Remember, winning breeds winning.


To watch video on all of the Ole Miss commits, click here.


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