Any high school football fan in the state of Mississippi knows the name South Panola. They are without a doubt one of the best football teams in the state of Mississippi every year, if not the best. Rick Cleveland of the Clarion ledger once gave them their nickname “University of South Panola” because of their rich football tradition that includes the third longest consecutive winning streak in the history of high school football. Starting in 2003, South Panola won 89 games in row with their streak coming to a end in the 2008 State Championship Game (vs. Meridian and Tyler Russell). Winning is part of their tradition but what happens to them once they go to college?
South Panola is in the heart of Ole Miss Country. Batesville, where the school is located, is only 26 miles away from campus of Ole Miss. Given the proximity the majority of people in the area are pro-Ole Miss. South Panola even has the same team colors – blue, red and white – as Ole Miss. Given all of this there is undoubtedly a lot of pressure on talented football recruits at South Panola to choose Ole Miss as their college of choice, but is it really their choice?
On Monday Paul Jones of Bulldawgs247 posted a interview with South Panola’s Deon Mix about what schools he was looking at. In the story Deon mentions his close connection to former South Panola player Kendrick Market and how he respected Market for his college decision.
Kendrick just tells me to make the right choice for me and he knows I’m not somebody that will fold under pressure. And Kendrick is actually one of the few around here that did what he wanted to do. He went to the college he wanted to go to and didn’t go to the college he had to go to. I like that about him.
This is proof of the pressure that is forced onto recruits in this area to attend Ole Miss even though they don’t want to.
Since 2002, eleven players from South Panola have signed with Ole Miss. (Scholarship players)
Chris Herring – went Juco, then to Southern Arkansas.
Reterio Brown – redshirted, never played a game
Peria Jerry – 1st round pick to the Falcons
JaMarca Sanford – 7th round pick to the Vikings
John Jerry – 3rd round pick to Miami
Travis Sanford – Didn’t qualify
Chris Strong – One year, quit the team
LeRoy Diggs – Went to Juco
Darius Barksdale- Left Ole Miss after first spring. Then to Jacksonville State
Nicholas Parker – redshirted in 2010, didn’t play in 2011.
Nick Parker hasn’t had the chance to perform yet, but considering the Ole Miss staff’s recruiting pitches to high school RB’s it doesn’t appear as if they plan to use him much in the near future. The recent move of Tobias Singleton, a wide receiver, to RB also sheds some light on the OM’s staffs expectations for the current RBs on roster.
Nickolas Brassell – Played as true freshman but in academic trouble.
According to a recent ESPN blogpost Freeze talked about Academic concerns. In the story both Nick Brassell and Jeff Scott are mentioned for being in academic trouble. When asked if Freeze thought they would make it, he responded:
I feel better because I see improvement, but if you’re asking me do I feel confident at this point to say that they’re going to make it, no, I don’t feel confident to say that.=
Freeze goes on to praise Jeff Scott’s efforts but doesn’t say much about Brassel That may be the least of Freeze’s concerns because in the same article the writer also talks about how hard it was to get players to buy into his system.
“It was tough to get players on board at first, and he still thinks less than 80 percent of the team has bought in, but it’s certainly higher than when he first arrived?.”
Ole Miss is in shambles right now and the recruits know it. Even players on the team are still not buying into the hope and change Freeze is preaching. The sad part is these high school students are still being pressured into playing for a losing team when they rather be somewhere else. It will continue on until more more players like Kendrick Market stand up for themselves.