Practices started on Tuesday for team Mississippi. Head coach Lance Pogue
has been pleased with what he's seen.
"I've been pleased," Pogue said. "We have a great attitude and a lot of good players. Guys that people will hear about for years to come. We have a great attitude and guys from different school levels. We have guys from 1A through 6A. They have different backgrounds and all. We're trying to mesh and put all of that together, but the kids have been very eager and very energetic with a great attitude all week. Again, I think we have some playmakers. I'm excited. We still have a little polishing up to do but we're getting there."
What areas seem to be the furthest along?
"I think we have some receivers. I think we have some skilled guys at receiver that are dangerous. I think we have a quality group of backs, but I've been really pleased with our quarterbacks. Thad Miller from Gulfport and Wyatt Roberts from Louisville. They're guys that maybe weren't on a lot of lists and heavily recruited but they can really throw it. I've been really pleased with those guys. I think the strength of ours is our defensive line and linebackers. I think we have a quality group there. I really do."
What areas are maybe a concern?
"I'd like to see our offensive line group come together a little more," Pogue said after Wednesday's practice. "That's always the last thing to happen with any team and any game especially in an All-Star game because so much continuity has to go into place. But we're close, and if we can just get that cleaned up and polished out I think our offensive line will be very solid for us. We have to be a team, like everybody, but in this game the turnover margin is very critical. If we don't turn the ball over and put ourselves in a bind. We want to be in the game at the end of the second half to have a shot. That's critical to operating from an offensive line standpoint. Do not turn blocks loose and get a guy hit in the backfield and turn the ball over. That's what my concern is right now, getting our offensive line tuned up."
Coach Pogue has won a high school national championship at South Panola and was the winning head coach in the Army All-American game, but this game carries a little something extra.
"You know me well. I'm a competitor, and I got a lot of pride for our state like everyone else. We lost, I think, they said six in a row. It has got to stop sometime, and I want it to be us. I like our attitude, and I like our competitive spirit that our team has, and I think the pride is there. It's going to be a fight because they have players like they always do. It's going to be a fight. We just want to get into the second half and have a chance to fight for it in the fourth quarter. I believe these guys have what it takes."
Everybody knows about the star players for Mississippi. Who are some of the sleepers the Mississippians need to keep an eye on?
"Well, you know, one guy that really stands out is Devin Voorhies. He's not a sleeper but Voorhies is a guy that I had heard about but didn't know
a lot about. He's a very athletic guy that I've even used some at receiver.
He's a guy that is a playmaker. Sammie Epps out of Greenwood is one you can
see major-league potential in down the line. He is almost 6' 5". Who knows
what he will be? He may be a H-Back. He may be a tight end. He may be a big
receiver, but he has tremendous ball skills and can really run. I've been
really pleased with him. Jeremy Sangster out of Louisville is a guy that many
probably don't know much about, but he's been really active and really physical.
He has a great future. Another guy who might not get all of the pub that has
been dominating out here every day in practice is Breeland Speaks. We actually
picked him up after someone else got hurt and boy that turned out to be a stroke of luck for us. This kid is big and strong and is so athletic and carries a
swagger with him. I just think he's going to be one to watch out for in the
How does a Jeremy Sangster go unnoticed in recruiting circles?
"It's hard sometimes to even imagine how that happens. You ask yourself what exactly are they looking for? Genard Avery and Shareef White out of Grenada are two others that are linebackers that are put together well and can really run. All of those guys can play, and I just really hope somebody will take a second look and say hey this is a homegrown guy that is going to give his heart and soul for whichever university it may be in the state because those guys are blue-collar guys that are what I call glue. They're going to be great players from a locker room standpoint and winners and competitors. Being from the state of Mississippi they have a lot of pride, and it would mean a lot for them. I'm not sure a university would understand exactly what they're getting if they were to get those guys. It's beyond just being a player. They just bring so many intangibles to the table for a team. Someone would be wise to pick up those three."
Coach Pogue has always built his foundation on stopping the run and this year's squad will be looking to do the same.
"As you and I know, that's a big part of where the game is won is that defensive line. I think we can cause a lot of problems. I think we have some athletic guys. Like Speaks is a guy that is showing up well and has great potential as I talked about earlier. I think Grant Harris is a guy who has a lot of potential. They're big, rangy guys. All of those guys are have good motors and look good in their stance. I think all of them can play. We have eight of them and we're going to play all of them. I think that is going to end up being a strength of ours for Saturday's game."
The Mississippi/Alabama All-Star game will be shown on Raycom Network at noon Saturday.
Yancy Porter is the Mississippi Scout for Scout.com and he can be reached at email@example.com
Mississippi/Alabama All-Star Capsule