2001 squad has plenty of size
By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
Jan. 18, 2001
CLINTON Bigger, stronger, faster.
It's not just a catch phrase these days. It's what's needed to win on the football field. And winning, Mike Justice says, is at the top of his list of priorities.
Madison Central's Justice is the head coach for the Mississippi team in this year's Mississippi/Alabama Shrine Classic all-star game. He joined a selection committee Wednesday in choosing Mississippi's team for the June 16 game in Mobile, Ala., and Justice didn't try to hide his feelings while helping pick the 36-man roster.
Justice came away from Wednesday's meeting happy. Of the 36 players chosen, 30 stand 6-feet or taller. Twenty-five of them weigh more than 200 pounds 10 of them tip the scales at 275 or higher.
All-state quarterback Damarius Bilbo of 5A state champ Moss Point and record-setting signal-caller Michael Spurlock will head up Mississippi's offense. But those are just two of the big names Mississippi boasts.
Mississippi's all-time leading rusher, Noah Ingram of Ruleville Central, joins marquee names like Marquez Dupree of Philadelphia and Sylvester "Bobo" Brown who has committed to Ole Miss in the backfield.
Receivers include Meridian High's Mario Hill and Madison Central's Mike Espy, as well as Moss Point's Tremaine Moore. Espy and Hill have both committed to Ole Miss.
Up front, household names like Chris McNeil, Chris Spencer, Cornelius Stallings, Billy Garner and Johnny Wadley will be clearing the way for the Mississippi squad. Garner is headed to Southern Miss, Spencer to Ole Miss and Wadley and McNeil to Mississippi State.
All of those guys as well as the ones who made the roster as defensive studs are expected to contribute both ways.
Clinton strong safety Clarence McDougal heads up the defense, and he's joined in the secondary by the likes of Brandon's Rico Bennett and Louisville's Bryant Thomas. All three have committed to Mississippi State.
Up front, Warren Central's Thad Henderson heads up the down linemen, while the linebackers and defensive ends include Meridian's Jeremy Ruffin, Gulfport's Chris McNair and Derrick Ducksworth of Mize.
At least one player from each of Mississippi's five classifications has to be included on the team, as well as one player from each of the state's eight districts. No school may have more than three players represented in one year.
Rocky Higginbotham is the sports editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.