Call it Egg Bowl Lite.
Mississippi State running back commit versus Ole Miss running back commit.
Winner gets a Class 4A championship ring and early bragging rights in the state’s most intense rivalry.
There aren’t many similarities between Forrest County AHS running back Dontavian Lee, who is committed to Mississippi State, and Lafayette running back and Ole Miss recruit D.K. Buford. When the two teams meet Saturday at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium, each school will use its star differently.
Lee is a prototypical power back who wears opposing defenses down during the course of the game. He prefers running between the tackles.
Buford is a speedster — he once ran a hand-timed 40-yard dash in 4.22 seconds –and lines up at running back, slot receiver and wide receiver. He’ll likely be used in a similar manner as Ole Miss running back Jeff Scott once he arrives in Oxford.
“I don’t think we compare a whole lot,” Buford said.
Buford is the known commodity in Mississippi. The Dandy Dozen running back’s 40-yard times and early commitment to the Rebels made him the easy guy for opposing defenses to focus on. His numbers have slipped some because of that — he’s rushed for 1,001 yards and 15 touchdowns — but he’s played a big role in Lafayette’s seven-game winning streak heading into the state championship.
“It’s probably been a little tough, but he’s had a solid year,” Lafayette coach Eric Robertson said. “His numbers are still good. He’s handled it well.”
Buford was injured in Lafayette’s Class 4A North State win over Cleveland, but he insists he’ll play Saturday.
“I feel like by the end of this week, I’ll be 85, 90 percent,” he said. “I’m going to play regardless. I’m just going to have to play through the pain.”
Conversely, Lee wasn’t as well known when he committed to the Bulldogs this summer. He wasn’t highly ranked in any recruiting ranking, but Forrest County AHS coach Larry Dolan believes he’s one of the best prototypical running backs in Mississippi.
Lee, ranked No. 17 in The Clarion-Ledger’s Targeted 22, proved that this season. He rushed for 1,590 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also recorded 43 tackles, including a pair for loss as a linebacker.
“It’s been a well-earned 1,500 yards,” Dolan said. “Once contact is made, he’s a bruiser. But he’s got a little wiggle too. When he’s in open field, he’s got a little scat back to him.”
Both will represent Mississippi next week in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game in Montgomery, Ala. For at least a week, they’ll be teammates.
But first, they’ll compete Saturday for a golden trophy — just like those two in-state schools do every year in the Egg Bowl.