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September 2, 2004
Pine Belt well represented in top ten
Editor's Note: This is a reprint from last week's edition of Prep Sports Weekly, a free publication distributed in Forrest, Lamar, Marion, Wayne, Jones, jasper, Smith, and Covington counties.
The state of Mississippi has a great reputation across the country for its production of high school athletes, particularly in football. Rivals.com ranks the players in the state each year based on college potential, and the southern part of the state is well represented this year. Here are the players from this region that have made the Mississippi Preseason Top 30 list.
1. Jerrell Powe (Wayne County, 6-3, 322, 4.8): Powe has been classified as the state's top prospect since he led Wayne County to its 5A state championship two years ago, Big, strong, fast he does it all on the defensive line. Not only the top player in Mississippi, he is also rated as the No. 1 defensive tackle in America by Rivals.com, but is also the nations No. 2 overall prospect regardless of position. Click here to see the junior highlight video that earned him this high ranking.
2. Josh McNeil (6-4, 270, 5.1): The top rated offensive player also comes from the South and has seen almost as much success during his high school career. McNeil has been on two state championship teams at Collins and hopes to get a third crown as a senior. Rated the No. 85 prospect overall and the nation's top center, his biggest asset is his desire to win and to finish every play. The brother of Mississippi State starting center Chris McNeil, Josh has all the tools to be a better player at the next level. Click here to see some of his junior footage.
5. Calvin Wilson (6-5, 336, 5.1): In the year of the big man in Mississippi, Calvin comes in as the top-rated tackle. A four-star prospect from Hattiesburg, he is very nimble for his size and also stars for the school's basketball team. While Hattiesburg has struggled over the last several seasons, new head Coach Buddy Duke likes what he has to build the offense around. Calvin is rated as the No. 16 offensive tackle prospect in the nation.
6. Kris Thigpen (6-3, 191, 4.9): There are several quarterbacks this year that are arguably the best in the state, but none has been more impressive than Taylorsville's Kris Thigpen. His athleticism is one of the things that sets him apart, and his intelligence allows him to make good, quick decisions. He is rated as the No. 10 pro-star quarterback in the country. Click here to see him in action as a junior.
8. Archie Sims (6-0, 200, 4.67): West Jones will go into this season rated as one of the top five teams in the state, and one of the big reasons for this optimism is the return of defender Archie Sims. Rated as the No. 45 outside linebacker in the country, some say he doesn't have the size or speed at the next level, but that does not bother him. He just goes out and does his job, and is being rewarded by looks from several major colleges across the south.
That takes care of the south representation in the top ten of the Rivals.com Mississippi Preseason Top Thirty. Five of the top ten - including the top two - will make that part of the state a popular destination for college recruiters this fall.
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