COLUMN: BATESVILLE — South Panola may not have the state’s top-ranked recruit this season like it did last year with Antonio Conner, but don’t feel bad for coach Lance Pogue; he still has plenty of talent and some prospects worth watching.
Offensive lineman Terrance Malone (6-foot-3, 300 pounds) is as wide as a bulldozer and performs like one on the field. Playing in the shadow of tackle Deon Mix, who signed with Auburn last year, Malone, in the eyes of some, performed better last season as a junior.
“He’s a good player. Going to be a senior and played a lot for us,” Pogue said. “He’s playing guard for us but he can play all the spots. He’s our only experienced guy coming back with any significant playing time and we’re counting on him being a leader for us. He’s a good player and got a future on the next level.”
Malone came to Oxford and took part in the Ole Miss Elite football camp June 7. Pogue said Malone is a “smart guy” who has good feet and is physically tough.
“The college coaches all like him. He stands out on film because at times, he can be physically dominant,” he said. “Like I said he has good feet and he’s a big guy and that’s what they like. We’ve been fortunate, we’ve had a lot of good offensive linemen through the years and he’s one of the better ones that we’ve had. There’s no doubt about that and we expect him to have a great senior year.”
DE to watch
Matt Davis, a rising senior at defensive end, is another Tiger who is being closely monitored by Ole Miss and others. The 6-2 1/2, 245-pound Davis really came on late last season as the Tigers made their way through the Class 6A playoffs.
“We think he’s about as good as anybody in the state. He’s a strong kid and a good athlete. He had a great end of the year in the playoffs and I thought he had a really good spring. I expect him to have a great senior year,” Pogue said.
Davis is regarded as one of the better players in the state by recruiting analysts, but he’s further down the list on the rankings and as a result, hasn’t gotten as much attention as other defensive ends in the state such as Callaway’s Breeland Speaks, Clinton’s Grant Harris or Oxford’s Darrius Liggins. Pogue has talked to Davis about some of that and told him to continue to make plays.
“What we’ve told him is, the college guys want everyone that’s 6-4, 6-5 this that and the other and in a perfect world that sounds good. He makes plays on film and what we’ve told him is to have a senior year where you show up on film game after game and all of a sudden, they can’t not sign you because of production,” Pogue said. “That’s what we’ve challenged him to do. He’s a football player, there’s no doubt about it. He can play Division I football, there’s no question in our mind, and we expect him his senior year to show there’s no doubt about that.”
Pogue thought Davis did a good job of playing the run and rushing the passer. Last season, Davis was credited with 50 tackles and 3.5 sacks, according to Maxpreps.com.
“He’s a strong, tough guy that can hold up against the run but he can also play three technique inside against a guard and we feel like he’s going to be an outstanding pass rusher,” said Pogue, who added Davis was on the edge of offers. “I think a lot of depends on how he does his senior year and all of that but I think he’s going to fool people, I really do.”
Quarterback Rip Kirk (6-4, 220) towered over his offensive teammates during 7-on-7 work and his arm strength is as good as any signal caller in the state. Kirk, who is the nephew of former Water Valley baseball coach Doug Robbins, is not being actively recruited by Ole Miss or Mississippi State but is being pursued by other schools in the Southeast.
“We got to find him a place that doesn’t incorporate their quarterback into the running game. We’ve got to find a place for him that’s throw it down the field, play-action because his arm is out of sight. He’s got a great arm strength,” Pogue said. “He’s a smart guy, tough guy. He’s a state champion and there’s a place for him.”
Last season Kirk completed 173 of 320 attempts for 2,358 yards and 27 touchdowns. He was 17-for-24 for 232 yards and two touchdowns in the 6A North Half title win over Madison Central and he completed 16 of 26 passes for 214 yards and two scores in the Tigers’ 6A title game win over Brandon. (June 26, 2013, Page 8)