The 2015 high school football season kicks off one month from today.
As we prepare for the coming year, The Clarion-Ledger is evaluating each position and which players are primed for a breakout season.
Mississippi’s depth at running back isn’t as deep as it’s been in previous years. South Panola’s Darell Henderson (the Best of MS Preps football player of the year) and Pearl’s Jordan Wright left big shoes to fill by the following six juniors and seniors.
Alan Lamar, senior, DeSoto Central
After a junior campaign where he averaged nearly 138 rushing yards per game, Lamar emerges as one of the top running backs in Mississippi. The 5-foot-9, 185-pounder is ranked a three-star prospect by 247Sports and picked up several FCS offers this spring from Southern Illinois, Louisiana-Monroe, Columbia and Cornell. DeSoto Central’s offensive line is in tip-top shape with Mississippi State commit Dareuan Parker at left tackle and left guard Kendall Terry, which will give Lamar plenty of opportunities to take the Jaguars from sleeper to big threat out of Region 1-6A.
Darius Maberry, junior, Clinton
Entering his junior year, Maberry is already a varsity veteran. The running back battled injury at points last season but still managed to record 586 rushing yards and six touchdowns. In an offense where do-it-all athletes Cam Akers and Kam’Ron White are going to make play after play, Maberry has to do more with fewer carries. He proved his ability to rip off explosive runs as a sophomore and is primed to do it again on one of the most talented teams in the state.
Tyrell Price, senior, Lafayette
Price impressed at combines this summer and has shown significant strides in one area of his game: speed. The stocky 5-foot-11, 210 pound running back ran a 4.53 second 40-yard dash this month and continues to get better with his lateral quickness and ability to find gaps. He didn’t play the first few games last season so his production saw a slight decrease from his sophomore to junior season. All signs point to that changing this year with Price taking on a role as the Commodores top scoring threat.
Justin Conner, senior, North Panola
The Ole Miss commit is on pace to break 1,000 yards rushing as a senior. With Jatavious Farmer and Willie Hibbler gone, this is Conner’s year to prove himself and his dynamic scoring abilities. He was a monster at camps during the spring, showing off his agility to make people miss and change his body’s direction with speed and precision. While he projects as a cornerback for the Rebels and will see a good bit of time in the defensive backfield this year, Conner is one of the top running backs to watch this fall.
Brieton Sykes, senior, Calhoun City
Sykes is listed by some as an athlete but cranks out a majority of his production out of the backfield. Last year he racked up over 2,100 yards of total offense and 35 touchdowns to help lead the Wildcats to their second straight Class 2A title game. Every bit of Calhoun City’s offensive attack is going to take Sykes into account one way or another. His shiftiness allows him to carve through defenses and his willingness to lower his shoulder make him difficult for opponents to tackle.
Kylin Hill, junior, Columbus
Hill had a monster summer on the camp circuit and picked up offers from Ole Miss and Mississippi State over the weekend. At 5-foot-8, 208 pounds, the junior bursts into the second level out of the backfield and it doesn’t take him long to hit his stride. Expect Hill’s carries to increase exponentially this fall and don’t rule out the possibility of seeing the explosive runner tack on some responsibility at slot receiver.
Contact Courtney Cronin at (601) 961-7091 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @CourtneyRCronin on Twitter.