"I've been wondering about that myself," said John Barnes, head coach of the West team. "I
Mississippi River is the dividing line, which explains us getting a player from Louisiana
and one from
Arkansas. But isn't Mississippi in the East?"
Three players from Mississippi found themselves on the West Roster for the U.S. Army
Bowl, to be played at the Alamodome beginning at noon CST Saturday. Scout.com is media
the bowl game, which will be nationally telecast by NBC.
Center Josh McNeil of Collins, cornerback Derek Pegues of Batesvillle, and defensive
tackle Jerrell Powe
of Waynesboro are the Mississippians of the West.
The West also picked up wide receiver Slick Shelley of Fort Smith, Arkansas, and
quarterback Ryan Perrilloux of Reserve, Louisiana.
Coach Barnes has a cabin in Wisconsin and also picked up two players from that state. "I
absolutely sure where the Mississippi River went into the Gulf of Mexico, but I know that
up where it
starts, Wisconsin is on the east side of it," Barnes said. Linebacker Travis Beckum and
Raymond Henderson are West players from Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
For the most part, the Southerners are satisfied with the placement. But Perrilloux, a
Texas commitment, indicated he might be a bit unhappy. And though he didn't say so, it may
do with the competition. Also playing quarterback for the West are USC - bound Mark Sanchez
of Mission Viejo, California, who many believe is the number one quarterback in the
Alabama commitment Jimmy Barnes of Los Alamitos, Calif., who is the son of the head coach.
Perrilloux, who said he didn't know he was on the West team until he arrived in San
Antonio and got his
equipment, including a "West" hat, said, "We're competing, but in a way we're not. It
seems like the
coaches are just giving reps in a one-two-three order. We're not really battling for the
Lest anyone think the coach's son has the advantage here, it should be noted that practice
leads to the conclusion that Sanchez is number one, Perrilloux number two, and Barnes
In any event, Perrilloux believes the three will have equal playing time Saturday.
And he thinks the West got some players who might have been on the East team "to even it
Coach Barnes wouldn't agree with that suggestion. "It's not like we don't have enough
players in the
West to make up a team," he said.
There hasn't been as much culture shock as might be expected for the Southerners. "I talk
so they can understand me," said McNeil. He was a little surprised to pick up the nickname
Country" from his teammates "because that's my nickname back home, too," he said.
McNeil said the physical shock has been greater than any cultural shock. "In high school I
going up a 210-pound defensive lineman," he said. "Here you see nothing but 300-pounders.
good to snap it to guys who can throw it like our quarterbacks."
McNeil said he was surprised to be on the West squad, "but it's a great honor to be on
either side," he
said. "I know I've made some good friends."
McNeil added, "Probably more surprising than being on the West is that an Alabama
taking snaps from a Tennessee commitment."
McNeil may not be having culture shock, but he stunned quarterback Barnes. Coach Barnes
told me that Josh dips (uses smokeless tobacco). You would get thrown out of our school
for that. Josh
told Jimmy that his dad taught him to dip when he was about
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