COLUMN: Ole Miss signed a bevy of talented football players from the state of Mississippi this past February. One of those talented players was Raleigh wide receiver Donte Moncrief, who has been preparing for the upcoming season at Ole Miss by competing in the long jump for his high school.
Moncrief, who won the event with a jump of 23 feet, 10.5 inches at Friday’s Class 3A state track meet held at Pearl, said he was ready to get to Oxford so he can start working out with other players, including fellow incoming freshmen wide receivers Tobias Singleton and Nickolas Brassell.
“I’m ready to get the summer started. We got a workout book maybe like a month ago and I’ve been doing it to get on track so I can be ready when I go in,” said Moncrief, who will move to Oxford on May 28 begin summer school. “I’m weighing 216 and in very good shape. I’m very excited to get with them and work with them so that we can get on the same page.”
Moncrief attended last month’s Grove Bowl and said he came away impressed with what new offensive coordinator David Lee is trying to do.
“I haven’t gotten used to him yet but I watched the spring game. He looks like a pretty good coach that spreads the ball around,” said Moncrief, who towers over his long jump competition at 6-foot-3.
One of the big reasons why the Rebels ended up signing so many Mississippi natives was because of Moncrief, who was the primary player in charge of keeping the verbal commitments and gaining more as the fall turned into the winter.
This year Moncrief said he will help recruit members of the 2012 class, which includes several standout players including Lafayette High quarterback Jeremy Liggins (6-foot-3, 260-pounds), Aberdeen defensive end Channing Ward (6-4, 240), Morton defensive tackle Quay Evans (6-3, 310) and Long Beach defensive tackle Nick James (6-5, 335).
Moncrief said he is closest with Ward of those top players, who are all being considered for postseason All-Star games and offers from several Southeastern Conference schools.
“There is a pretty good chance he comes,” Moncrief said of Ward. “I don’t know what he’ll do, but I want to make sure he goes where he feels like home.”
Evans is one of the most highly recruited players in the state and has several offers already, including Ole Miss. Morton coach Miles Porter said Evans, who has been invited to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl game, is an extremely strong individual.
“He’s one of the best tackles in the nation. If he’s not the best, I want to see who is better,” Porter said earlier this spring. “When he was a sophomore, he was in the weight room and bench pressed 225 pounds 28 times. He’s a great player, the kind of player that only comes around here once every 30 years.”
National recruiting analyst Tom Lemming has visited Mississippi twice this spring and has Evans rated as one of his top 100 players in the nation. Lemming has personally interviewed Evans — all of the players on his list have to be seen in person — and he thought Evans was a terrific player with a huge upside.
“I have him rated as one of the top three tackles in the nation. I haven’t gone out West yet, but I don’t expect to come across anybody better than what I’ve seen from him,” Lemming said during a phone interview in late April. “Quay dominates people when you watch him on tape. He can overpower a double team and sometimes a triple team when you watch him.”
Lemming added that he is high on James, but thought he needed to dedicate himself to having a good senior year.
“He has shown on film that he takes plays off. He had a great combine out in San Antonio (at U.S. Army All-American Bowl), so you saw that he could be a special player, but his stats from his junior year don’t show that,” Lemming said. “Right now Quay is better overall.”
Best athlete in Mississippi
Lemming talked highly of Liggins, who he called the best athlete in the state because he can play so many different positions at the next level.
“He’s big and physical and had a good arm. He has uncanny running skills for a player as big as he is,” Lemming said of the Commodores’ signal caller, who has offers from all the schools in the state as well as Auburn and Alabama. “He can do it all. I can see why everybody is after him because he is such a great athlete.”
Liggins is one of five rising seniors from Mississippi who has been nominated to played in the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Also included on that list are Ward, Evans, James and Petal quarterback Anthony Alford (6-2, 195), who is also a standout on the baseball diamond for the Panthers. (May 19, 2011, Page 6)