MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The 32nd-annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game week is underway with top prospects from each state gathering Wednesday to begin preparation for next Monday’s showdown.
The first practice for Team Mississippi was a heavy install day but we were still able to see players flash in each position group.
247Sports takes you inside.
Standing in as the most physically impressive prospect among an SEC-loaded defensive line group was Alabama commit Byron Young who was consistent the entire practice. Crisp in position drills, stout in run stop reps and a factor as a pass rusher, the 6-foot-4, 285-pound Young brings all the traits coveted at the point of attack. Twitchy when the ball is snapped, good feet, powerful and plays with good pad level, Young was a handful for his fellow Mississippi offensive linemen. He was also completely engaged, very coachable. Ranked by the industry-generated 247Sports Composite as the nation’s No. 6 strong-side defensive end, No. 4 recruit in Mississippi and No. 88 prospect overall, Young is one of the jewels of a Crimson Tide class that ranks No. 1 nationally. He checks in at No. 88 nationally regardless of position. He will not sign early and is also still considering opportunities from Ole Miss, LSU and Florida among others.
Next Five Defense
- Nathan Pickering, DL, Seminary (Ms.) High – The Mississippi State commit was also a tough block, agile at 6-foot-3, 286-pounds, his quickness allowed him to have several dominant reps. The Crimson Tide are the biggest threat to flip Pickering who is also looking at Ole Miss, LSU and Florida. The Bulldogs will get the last official visit before National Signing Day.
- Nakobe Dean, LB, Horn Lake (Ms.) High- The nation’s No. 1 inside linebacker has that short area burst that makes him unique and he’ll crash through a hole to stuff a running back at the line of scrimmage. Smooth, instinctual and strong. Dean will announce his college decision next week and put pen to paper with Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss, LSU and Texas A&M among others under consideration.
- Zach Edwards, LB, Starkville – Listed at 6-foot-3, 230-pounds on the roster, there wasn’t a more imposing second-level defender who picked off a pass in the 7-on-7 portion and was a force in run stuffing drills. The nation’s No. 30 inside linebacker is a bonafide SEC talent. Memphis is in good position to land Edwards.
- Deantre Prince, DB, Charleston (Ms.) High – The smoothest defensive back in drills, his burst and speed were evident in coverage. The Ole Miss commit flashed several times throughout the practice. He ranks as the nation’s No. 25 athlete and is on the cusp of four-star status.
- Jalil Clemons, DE, Starkville (Ms.) High – No pass rusher had better hands than the Tennessee commit who easily maneuvered his way around offensive tackles, quickly shedding and bursting into the backfield. Doesn’t blow you away physically at this stage but seems to be a bit of a technician in the trenches. Keep an eye on Memphis moving forward.
Top Five Offense
- Dannis Jackson, WR, Sumrall (Ms.) High – The most explosive player in the state cruised by defenders or had them spinning like a top, a smooth route runner that put himself in position for several chunk plays had this been a real game. A couple drops kept him from Alpha Dog honors, but there wasn’t a more exciting prospect on the field at this practice than the future Ole Miss receiver who looks like an instant impact playmaker in Oxford. 247Sports ranks the 6-foot-1, 187-pound Jackson as the nation’s No. 16 receiver and No. 101 prospect overall.
- Antavious Willis, WR, Camden (Ms.) Velma Jackson – An outstanding senior season carried over to the practice field where Willis made as many plays as anyone in the receiving game. From the quick stuff to getting open downfield, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Willis put on a show. That’s what he did in the fall too as he rushed for 1,705 yards and scored 31 touchdowns in averaging over 10-yards per carry. He added another 539 yards receiving and four scores. Willis talked about going the JUCO route at practice but no question he’ll eventually be on a Power Five roster.
- Charles Cross, OT, Laurel (Ms.) High – One of the jewels of the Mississippi State class, the country’s No. 11 offensive tackle looked the part, earning compliments for his footwork from coaches to controlling defensive linemen in team and 1-on-1 portions of practice. He attacks, he moves well and impressed in all phases. This is a huge offensive line class for the Bulldogs with Cross the bellcow of the group.
- Jarod Conner, RB, Hattiesburg – Ole Miss is getting a good one in the 6-foot, 215-pound Conner who has good vision and accelerates well once he sees an opening. Shifty between the tackles, darting into the creases, easy to see how he racked up 1,622 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns as a senior quarterback who also threw for 2,324 yards and 24 more scores.
- Carson Williams, OL, Forest (Ms.) Scott Central – Hungry for reps, Williams jumped at an opportunity to play center and held his own against a talented defensive line group. Moves well, has good balance and nice upside. Like Willis, sounds like he’ll go JUCO route before finding his way to Power Five ball. At 6-foot-4, 295-pounds with long arms, he fits the mold and brings versatility to the point of attack.
Arkansas quarterback commit KJ Jefferson has all the tools to develop into one of the SEC’s top signal-callers. Still filling out his 6-foot-3 frame, the arm talent is there, he’s a fluid athlete that can make things happen with his legs and he showed the ability to throw the football to all portions of the field. Once he becomes more consistent, look out.
Four-star cornerback recruit Raydarious Jones brings incredible length and top-notch speed to the position, eats up a lot of green quickly. He’s an intriguing prospect who will arrive at his destination thin but with a ton of upside. LSU, Auburn, Ole Miss and Mississippi State are the finalists.
Pelahatchie (Miss.) High’s Javeious Purvis looks like an instant impact type player at Mississippi State. Smooth in the secondary, he’s a dominant player on both sides of the ball on Friday nights that could do both in Starkville.