Derrick Jones knows he is alone.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound wide receiver from Eupora High School is very aware that he’s the only player committed to Ole Miss to make the 40-person Mississippi roster for today’s Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Classic.
Jones is also very aware that while he is the lone future Rebel on the roster, Mississippi State has nine commitments and Southern Miss has four. Perhaps sensing some vulnerability, MSU commitments have made it a point to try to convince Jones to join them next year in Starkville.
West Bolivar running back Kailo Moore is one of a few that has been active in recruiting Jones, and believes his pitch is working.
“I think it’s going to work out well,” Moore said. “(MSU cornerback) Johnthan Banks that’s (like) his big brother. He’s been talking to Johnthan a lot and Johnthan said he’d like to see him play at Mississippi State. (Jones) is my homeboy so he really wants to play at the same college as me. So wherever I end up, he’ll end up.”
South Panola offensive lineman Deon Mix has made Jones a target for weeks now. Jones appreciates the interest, but claims he isn’t bending to all of the pressure he’s faced this week.
“Nah, but they are trying to get me,” Jones said about whether Mix’s pitch was effective. “I think I’m going to stick with my decision. I have a close relationship with all of the coaches and I love the atmosphere.”
Jones has even gone on the offensive this week. He’s hassled the Bulldogs commits about Ole Miss’ 41-24 win over MSU in this year’s Egg Bowl. He’s also identified some recruiting targets of his own that he’d like to see join him at Ole Miss. Mix, Moore, South Panola safety Tony Conner and Itawamba AHS running back Ashton Shumpert are the guys that have heard from Jones this week about the Rebels.
Jones hasn’t gotten a good feel about Shumpert, but “feels pretty good” about Conner ending up in Oxford.
Where they’re headed
Fifteen players on Mississippi’s roster have made verbal commitments, nine of who have committed to Mississippi State. Other schools who have players committed are: Southern Miss (4), Ole Miss (1) and South Alabama (1). One player on Alabama’s roster is committed to a Mississippi school. Rashawn Smith, a linebacker for Florence High, has committed to Ole Miss.