Per capita, Mississippi produces more football talent than any state in the union. Not a lot of people but a lot of blue-chip athletes. I've driven through the state three times to rate the top 40 players and, so far as I can tell, Illinois coach Ron Zook hasn't been here.
Mississippi is a difficult state to evaluate because there is only one large city, Jackson, the state capitol. Brett Favre, Walter Payton, Archie Manning and Jerry Rice all came from small towns.
Another thing about Mississippi...most kids go to SEC schools, almost every one. Of course, a good number go to junior colleges first because of poor grades.
Why does Mississippi produce so many good prospects? Because there are no professional football teams in the state, there isn't a lot to do, basketball is good but football is king, like Texas.
It is a poor state so instead of playing video games and enjoying other distractions that can be found in wealthier states, football is a way out, as baseball is in the Dominican Republic.
The No. 1 player in Mississippi is 6-4, 280-pound defensive lineman Josh Boyd of Philadelphia, probably the best player to come out of his town since Marques Dupree in 1982. He is one of the top three defensive linemen in the state.
It is a good year for defensive linemen and quarterbacks in the state. Two other outstanding linemen are 6-4, 240-pound Fletcher Cox of Yazoo City and 6-4, 260-pound Ryan McSwain of Hattiesburg.
Five quarterbacks rank among the best in the country--6-3, 210-pound Clayton Moore of Louisville, 6-5, 220-pound Chris Garrett of Tupelo, 6-2, 190-pound Cameron Lawrence of Senatovia, 6-5, 200-pound Tyler Russell of Meridian and 6-3, 210-pound Jamie Collins of Meadville.
Collins, who is such a good free safety that he might be moved to defense right away, could be the best of all. Moore was the Class 3A player of the year. Lawrence impressed at the U.S. Army Combine in San Antonio in January. Russell committed to Mississippi State after Garrett de-committed.
Two outstanding wide receivers are 6-3, 210-pound Pat Patterson of Macon and 5-11, 185-pound Chad Bumphis of Tupelo, who has over 20 offers.
Reuben Corley of Batesville, a 6-2, 240-pounder, is the best blocking fullback in the country.