Scouting the South Panola/Olive Branch game

The top two 5A teams squared off Friday night in a showdown between the heavyweights. The game pitted Mississippi's only 2 Army All-Americans and as many as 10 D1 prospects were on display. To get an analysis and video on each player, click below.


South Panola

Chris Strong
(LB, South Panola, MS) - The 6' 3", 260 pound linebacker is the best high school prospect I have seen come through Mississippi since Jerrell Powe.

Chris had three sacks, batted a pass that ended up being intercepted by #9 Kevin Young, 8 solo tackles, countless times he blew up the gap, and made the biggest hit I have ever seen in high school football. He came through untouched and simply drove QB Cannon Smith into another world. Cannon laid there motionless for around two minutes, but give the kid some credit, he walked off the field on his own.

The Ole Miss commit has the ability to fight through double teams, through offensive linemen, or anyone who happens to get in front of him. He also has enough speed to be a "sideline to sideline" middle linebacker.

There has been some debate as to whether will play linebacker or a position on the defensive line on the next level. If Chris can maintain the weight he is at now, along with his speed, he will stay at linebacker. But only time will tell the tale as to how big he gets.

The Army All-American is without question, the top prospect in the state of Mississippi. Chris should be the first defensive player to win Mr. Football in the state of Mississippi in some time now.

#1 at MLB




Jeramie Griffin (FB, South Panola, MS) - The 6' 0", 230 pound rugged runner set the tone for the game. On the second play from the line of scrimmage, he took the ball 64 yards for a TD. He stiffed armed the first guy he met at the line of scrimmage, simply ran over the safety, and outran the rest of the defenders for a TD. Two corners had the angle on him and they still could not catch him.

Jeramie had 109 yards and 2 TD's on 11 carries against Olive Branch. This brings his season totals to 1, 2 73 yards and 19 TD's while sharing the ball with the 2005 District 8(5A) Player of the Year, LeRoy Diggs, and scout.com's Top 100 national '08 prospect Darrius Barksdale.

The Ole Miss commit had countless runs where they simply could not get him down, and then he would break free from a pile of players and just keep on trucking.

I still think he is a FB on the next level, but I could be wrong, because the kid has better than average speed and will mow over anything in front of him.

#2 at FB



LeRoy Diggs (QB/Ath, South Panola, MS) - The 5' 11", 180 pounder plays QB for South Panola but will most likely settle in at cornerback for Ole Miss on the next level.

He is your typical high school QB that was put there because he is the best athlete on the team but is more of an athlete than a true QB. He rushed for two TD's and threw a pretty 16 yard pass to WR Roderick Jefferson on 4th and 10.

He only got in a few plays at cornerback, but he sealed the win with an interception when Olive Branch was trying to get back into the game in the second half.

LeRoy just makes things look so easy, and you can tell his teammates think the world of him.

Diggs now has over 1, 500 yards of offense (1, 130 rushing) and 26 TD's for the season.

#16 at QB and CB



WR Roderick Jefferson- This kid has SEC talent, folks. He is not the 6' 6" we have him listed in the database, but he does look to be in the 6' 4" range, 200 pound range.

Some have projected Roderick has a tight end for the next level, but he looks to have too narrow of a body to be a TE. Roderick is a true WR.

He runs pretty good routes and has good enough speed to make an impact with someone his size. What he does best is use his size to his advantage. He can outjump or shield the defender from getting to the ball.

Roderick has 28 catches for 580 yards and 9 TD's this season.

#88 at WR


DB/RB Darrius Barksdale - Scott Kennedy was drooling over this prospect when he watched tape from Darrius sophomore season during the championships game against Meridian. Scott proclaimed him "the top Mississippi prospect for the the state of Mississippi, regardless of position or classification."

While I am not sure he will make the impact as a Chris Strong on the next level, I love the athleticism he possesses and the fire in his belly.

The 6' 0", 185 pounder plays with a lot of emotion, but it is controlled. He does not run out of control.

Darrius did not get to much any safety during the game, but that is where his talents are best suited for, although he is a good looking RB too.

Barksdale has over 960 rushing yards and 10 TD's at running back and 46 tackles and 4 interceptions at safety.

And lastly, this should make the college recruiters feel even better. Barksdale received his ACT score in last week and made a 20 to go along with his 2.8 Core GPA.

#14 at RB


CB Bud Barksdale - I looked at his pipes (arms), and I said to myself, this kid has to be a safety. But no, the young man can flout out move. Made some clutch pass breakups at key times for South Panola and can really lay the wood on you.

Bud is Darrius' first cousin. It must run in the genes.

The 5' 11", 185 pounder will be a Top 20 prospect in MS next season.

#10 at CB


OL Quin Sanford - Quin and DE K. J. Wright went at it all night long. They both go the better end of one another, but on my count, Quin had the slight edge

K.J. is a long rangy DE but lacked the muscle to handle Quin inside. Sanford showed great footwork to stay with K.J., but I still think he is best suited for offensive guard

Quin is a legit 6' 4" and looks to be in the 290 range.

Could be the top '08 OL prospect in MS.

#45 at OT


Olive Branch

QB Cannon Smith - Great leader for their football team but Chris Strong's pressure was too much to handle.

The Army All-American was simply in a bad situation, as South Panola gained a big early lead and forced Olive Branch into a one dimensional offense, as the Tigers knew Olive Branch had to throw pretty much every down.

What was the result?

They blitzed from every angle and made it a long/long night for Cannon, as he threw 3 int's.

Nevertheless, you could still see the attributes that has attracted recruiters from Memphis, Tulane, Ole Miss, MSU, Alabama, and Oklohoma.

Cannon set every single Olive Branch passing records you can think of this season as he passed for over 2, 400 yards and 27 TD's this year.

#5 at QB


RB DeMatanise Hill - Like Roderick Jefferson, this kid is a player and is underrated. Hill showed great speed when he broke through for a 70 yard TD in the 4th quarter. He runs high, but so did Deuce, Eric Dickerson, and several other great tailbacks.

He is more of a finesse runner, but that is OK, the Hogs have one of those and he has rushed for over 1, 500 yards this season. Like Daren McFadden, Hill is very explosive and loves to go the distance when he hits the seem.

The 6' 2", 210 pound back rushed for nearly 900 yards and 16 TD's on the season.

#3 at RB



DE K.J. Wright - The 6' 3", 200 pounder simply needs to put on a good 30 or so pounds to handle the bigger OL, but he has good long range potential once he gets his needed weight and strength added to that long and lanky frame.

K.J. has very good footwork and his motor never stops. If your program can wait to let him develop, you got yourself a player and a great kid. Very high character young man.

MSU leads a host of other schools for this fine looking rush end.

#34 at DE


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