Eddie Payton, the brother of the late Pro Football Hall of Famer Walter Payton, was an honorary team captain for the Mississippi All-Star team Saturday.
“It’s one of the greatest honors I’ve ever had,” said Payton from the Mississippi sidelines.
Payton, 62, who attended Jefferson High in Columbia, Miss., said he tries to project the future of a player when watching all-star games, but can see a difference in the players today from when he and his brother were in high school.
“I was never that big,” Payton said with a laugh. “I tell you what, the desire and effort reminds me of the way I played when I was that age. You leave it all on the field. When you walk off, win or lose, you don’t look back and that’s what you want an athlete to do.”
Payton said his brother was the MVP of an in-state high school all-star game before becoming a star at Jackson State and the Chicago Bears. Walter Payton was the NFL’s all-time leading rusher with 16,726 yards when he retired in 1987. He died Nov. 1, 1999, at the age of 45 from cancer.
“The good Lord doesn’t make mistakes,” Eddie Payton said. “Whatever he was meant to do, he did. The good Lord said, ‘I need you up here.’ That’s the way we like to look at it. I think if he was here, he’d want to be a part of this. He’d probably be coaching on the sidelines if they let him because he felt more about young people than he did about the people sitting in the box seats.”
Williams dominates Magnolia State players: St. Paul linebacker Tre Williams showed why he is one of the nation’s top recruits, recording a game-high 12 tackles in the win over Mississippi.
“It was mostly the D-line,” said Williams, who is committed to Auburn. “We had great D-linemen, a big D-line that kept the offensive linemen off of me and (fellow inside linebacker) Shaun Hamilton so it was easier for me to read where they were going. I always picture myself as dominating my opponent. Whether I’m in an all-star game or in college, I’m going to dominate the person in front of me.”
Hillcrest’s Holcombe enjoys week: Spending a week in the Capital City was gratifying for Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa Keith Holcombe, who enjoyed the time with one of his teammates, Spanish Fort H-back Hunter Wood. Holcombe’s dad Danny and Wood’s dad Russ were college roommates and teammates at Alabama in the early 1980s.
“It was fun,” Holcombe said. “I know everyone was joking around, especially our dads, because it’s opposite. Mr. Russ played defense and I play defense and my dad played offense and Hunter plays offense.”
Holcombe, who is committed to Alabama, had seven tackles in the game, which came down to a pair of defensive stops in the fourth quarter.
“It was tremendous fun,” he said. “Even when we had our backs to the wall, it was fun. Everyone says championships are built on defense. That’s pretty much what we showed right there. Offense sells tickets, defense wins games. The defense just came out there and played our game.”
Hamilton leaves on winning note: G.W. Carver linebacker Shaun Hamilton was able to get one more win on his home field in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic.
Hamilton — a four-star Alabama commit — had three tackles in Alabama’s 21-17 win, and was able to walk away victorious in his final appearance at Cramton Bowl.
“To go out with a win on your home field, had my home band here, it’s great,” Hamilton said. “It’s something I’ll always cherish and tell my kids. It’s just great.”
Catholic’s Sherman feared by Mississippi returners: Catholic kicker James Sherman had a solid day to lead the Alabama special teams unit. Sherman averaged 34.1 yards per punt and had a touchback on a kickoff.
But his highlight play — or almost-highlight play — came on a kickoff that was returned by Mississippi’s Tevin Moore. Moore returned the kickoff down the left hash marks and was heading straight for Sherman. However, Moore conveniently went down just as he was in Sherman’s reach.
“I mean, he saw me coming, and he was just like, ‘I don’t want to mess with you.’ So, he pulled back,” said Sherman, a Texas State commit. “That’s alright. I don’t blame him.”
Not finished yet: Prattville running back Kamryn Pettway, who ran for 16 yards on five carries Saturday, isn’t done making his postseason rounds just yet. The Auburn commitment will suit up again in February, when he plays on the U.S. Under-19 National Team in the 2014 International Bowl.
The International Bowl is a collaboration of the sport’s national governing bodies in each country — USA Football and Football Canada — and features some of the top student-athletes in football’s greatest annual international competition. Pettway was one of four tailbacks from across the country selected to take on Team Canada at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7 at Maverick Stadium at the University of Texas at Arlington.
Pettway ran 169 times for 1,402 yards and 17 touchdowns in his final season with the Lions.
— Staff writers Duane Rankin, Tim Gayle, Cortez Strickland and Ethan Bernal contributed to this report