As the Bear once said, coaching is 80 percent recruiting (players) and 20 percent coaching. In South Panola's case, those words could never be truer.
It is no coincidence that they have had Army All-Americans the past three years in Derek Pegues, Chris Strong, and Darius Barksdale.
Could a fourth be on the way?
"I sure hope so," added the 6' 0", 200 pound linebacker, David Conner. "But I am not too worried about the awards. I just do not want to be a part of the team that stopped the (winning) streak. We have never lost a game since I have been on the team, and we do not want to start now."
Conner plays outside linebacker for the Tigers, and played it well, as he led the team in total tackles (97), tackles for losses (18), sacks (14), and forced fumbles (3). But many project him to end up at strong safety due to his size.
"That is what most of the coaches are telling me. I will go back there. It does not matter to me. I just want to be out on the field."
When watching David on film, you can tell how quick his first step is, and that is what separates him from most potential D1 prospects.
Conner received his first scholarship offer from Mississippi State a couple weeks back, but he is being heavily recruited by several others.
am hearing a lot from Ole Miss lately. They are probably recruiting me the hardest
right now. MSU offered me about two weeks back. They sent a package in the mail.
It said that I have a full scholarship to play for MSU, and they wanted me to
come over to their Jr Day. Michigan is real close to offering me too. Illinois,
Stanford, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, and USM all invited me to their Jr Days too. It
has really picked up as of late."
The Clarion Ledger 1st Team All-state selection (one of only two juniors to be named on the team), for all classifications, has only attended one Jr Day this Spring.
"I went over to Ole Miss with Reuben Corley a few weeks back. I liked it over there. I love the new coaches and how they treated me. I was also impressed with their facilities and how hard they make you work. But the coaches just made me feel real comfortable around there. I really enjoyed myself over there."
Although South Panola has traditionally sent the majority of their players to Ole Miss, David was not that high on the Rebels before he made the trip.
"It was way better than I was expecting. I thought we would just go over there and talk to the coaches, but they showed us a good time. I want to go to a school that can help me with my school work, and I liked their academic staff. It amazed me how much I liked it over there because I did not think it would be like that. I did not think too much about Ole Miss before I came over there."
What stood out about the trip?
"I loved learning about Chucky Mullins
and how he made that hit and sacrificed his body for his team. They rub his head
everytime they run out of the tunnel now. I thought that was awesome that he will
always be remembered in the Ole Miss family. I know Chucky smiles down from up
above every game when they come out of that tunnel. I was also real impressed
with the weight room. They showed us the records that their players hold in there.
Jamarcus Sanford, who is one of my cousins, showed us how they lift over there.
He broke a lot of records they hold. I liked that. He told me that he was going
to look after me if I came to school over there."
David had some one on one time with the Ole Miss coaches too.
"Coach (Chris) Vaughn, who is their DB coach, told me about the plays they run and showed me the plays on the board. They do not have a hard play book. It is all common sense plays. He showed us some clips from Arkansas and how things are run. Coach Vaughn showed us around 30 sets of their defense and I got 15 down in just thirty minutes. We just had a very long chat about what would be expected out of me if I were came over there. Coach Vaughn and I just clicked from the start. I could relate to him. Then he grabbed me and Reuben (Corley) and Coach Nutt for a talk. Coach Nutt told me how he had enjoyed having us over there, and that he felt comfortable with me and Reuben. Coach Nutt said we were the perfect fit for his program, and he wants us to start coming over to some Spring practices and come over to the Spring game. We are going over there for a scrimmage pretty soon, I think next Tuesday."
Which colleges have caught Conner's eye so far?
"Alabama, Ole Miss, MSU, and LSU."
What stands out about Alabama?
"My friend, Jeramie Griffin, we talk all of the time about it over there. He said he did not think a lot about going to Alabama. Some stuff went down with Ole Miss right before he was set to sign, and then Alabama offered him a scholarship. He said it all went down so quickly, so he never had much time to think much about going to Alabama because he had been committed to Ole Miss for so long. But he said that things turned out the best for him and now he thinks he is going to get a lot of playing time next year and that the school is real nice. Jeramie said he would take me down there and show me around. He sent me some pics of Alabama in the mail, and he said he thinks I am going to like it down there."
What about Mississippi State?
"Derek Pegues, I saw him a couple of days ago and he same if I come down there, he will help me although this is his last year. He said he will come down there and look after me. Derek also told me the coaches look after you in the classroom. He thinks I will like it down there too."
"There is just something about being a Tiger. Les Miles came back to coach again. I like how he coaches. I would like to be under him one day. I wish I could be a Tiger again after high school. I use to play LSU on the video games as a kid. I have been liking LSU ever since I was a kid."
What are Ole Miss' positives?
"They are my top school. They are on top. I guess because that is the only college I have visited, but right now I like how everything is going. I think I will fit in real good down there. I have some cousins already there, so I know the transition will go real smooth."
Conner reports a 3.4 Core GPA and will take the ACT test in April.