Top takeaways from all-star rosters

CLINTON — Rosters were announced Wednesday for December’s Mississippi-Alabama and Bernard Blackwell All-Star Football games.

West Point's Scott Lashley highlights one of the deepest offensive line groups for team Mississippi in recent years.

West Point’s Scott Lashley highlights one of the deepest offensive line groups for team Mississippi in recent years.

For the first time in its 29-year history, the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Football Classic will be played in the state of Mississippi at M.M. Roberts Stadium on the campus of Southern Miss. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m. on Dec. 12. Alabama holds a 21-7 edge in the series. Mississippi’s last win came in a 26-7 victory in 2007 when the game was played in Mobile.

The Bernard Blackwell All-Star Football Classic is in its 67th year and will take place at Joseph Milner Stadium in Gulfport on Dec. 19 at 12 p.m. The South beat the North 48-14 last year and is looking to capture its fifth consecutive victory.

Below are the top story lines from the roster release.

Size on the OL

The average size of a Mississippi offensive lineman in the MS-AL game is 300 pounds. Compared to last year, this group is stacked in terms of size and future Division I talent.

“We had one SEC signee up front in (Ole Miss freshman) Javon Patterson last year,” Mississippi head coach Jeff Breland said. “This year it’s like your regular high school team. We’re blessed to have so many offensive linemen with size that are going to have an opportunity to go D-I. (West Point’s) Scott Lashley is a mammoth human being, and we’re hoping that we can go down there and make things happen.”

Lashley, a four-star left tackle, is the biggest lineman at 6-foot-7, 310 pounds. Mississippi State commit Dareuan Parker (DeSoto Central) isn’t far behind at 6-foot-5, 330 pounds. The O-line also boasts the likes of three-star Callaway guard Javious Bardney (6-4, 275), Oak Grove tackle Nick Vines (6-4, 310), Southaven’s Cordell Birge (6-1, 298), Germantown’s Arvin Fletcher (6-3, 310), Cal commit and Florence’s Gentle Williams (6-3, 285) and Ole Miss commit Eli Johnson (6-3, 285) of Lafayette.

Mississippi roster for MS-AL All-Star Game

Top position group

Mississippi’s defensive lines are loaded with talent across the state this year. When it comes to the eight that were chosen for the Mississippi-Alabama game, it’s truly a who’s-who of the state’s elite linemen. All four defensive linemen selected to the Dandy Dozen were selected to the MS-AL roster. Noxubee County’s Jeffery Simmons, the No. 1 player in the Targeted 22, will be joined by four-star defensive tackles Benito Jones (Wayne County), Raekwon Davis (Meridian) and Kobe Jones (Starkville). Mississippi State commit Drelan Porter (South Panola), who leads Region 1-6A in sacks with seven, brings a unique set of skills as the state’s top pass rusher. Bassfield’s Jermone Johnson, Rosa Fort’s Hal Northern, and D’Iberville’s Jacquez Turner are also among the stacked group and have Division I potential.

Too deep

The rules for the selection process only allow two teams to send three players to the Mississippi-Alabama and Bernard Blackwell All-Star games. Meridian and Lafayette are bursting at the seams with talent, and that’s reflected on the roster. The Wildcats will be represented in the secondary with Quincy Lenton and Zaire Jones as defensive backs. Davis, an Alabama commit who plays both ways for the Wildcats, will play on the defensive line. Lafayette’s Tyrell Price, who has 1,251 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns, was chosen as a running back. Ole Miss offensive line commit Eli Johnson and linebacker Quin Jones will also represent the Commodores.

In the Bernard Blackwell Game, South Panola has three players on the North team (Turner Rotenberry, Rodney Shaw and Donald Twilley) while D’Iberville has Ty Peters, Jacquelle Green and Barry Leonardi on the South roster. The D’Iberville standouts will be joined by an Oak Grove trio of Kendall Parham, Antwain Sanders and Deontae Haynes on the South.

Recruiting takeaways

The state’s top 40 players will spend ample time together after the MHSAA state championships. The recruiting implications of the week leading up to the Mississippi-Alabama game are big with in-state programs being well-represented on the roster. Ole Miss has four commits (Benito Jones, D.K. Metcalf, Octavious Cooley and Eli Johnson); Mississippi State has three (Drelan Porter, Dareuan Parker and Nero Nelson); and Southern Miss has two (Racheem Booth and Demetrius Market). A handful of other Division I commits from Power 5 schools will participate in the game. With several of Mississippi’s top players aiming to commit closer to February’s National Signing Day, this week could be critical for recruiting, especially for players who still have to set up official visits in January.

Rosters for the Bernard Blackwell All-Star Game

Biggest surprises

Eleven of the 12 members of The Clarion-Ledger’s 2015 Dandy Dozen were selected for the Mississippi-Alabama game. The sole player missing from that list is North Panola athlete and Ole Miss commit Justin Connor, who was also left off of the North and South rosters for the Bernard Blackwell game. With the lack of running back depth in Mississippi this year, his omission comes as a surprise.

Each game has to have one player from each classification, and coaches usually have to comb through some of the smaller classifications to find players (North Panola is 3A). Several defensive linemen won’t be playing either. Coaches begin planning these rosters at the very beginning of the year, so Greenwood DE Marquiss Spencer being left off after he decided to reclassify to 2016 in June isn’t as surprising as McComb’s KaDerrion Mason not receiving an invite to either game. Another surprising omission was Mississippi State offensive line commit Greg Eiland. At 6-foot-7, 320 pounds, the Philadelphia product is still raw but provides size and is an aggressive run blocker.

Contact Courtney Cronin at (601) 961-7091 or Follow @CourtneyRCronin on Twitter.

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