2009 Defensive Player of the Year|Linebacker Hoskins helps Port Gibson turn things around

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 24, 2009

PORT GIBSON — During his heyday at one of Memphis’ more talent-laden programs, coach Lynn Lang could spot a player in the making.

Even before he became the head football coach at Port Gibson, Lang saw something in one of his Blue Wave players.

“Hey, watch this kid. He could be as good any I had at Trezevant,” Lang said back when the Blue Waves were lining up for their team picture.

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The kid was Mitchell Hoskins.

The 6-foot, 200-pound junior had suffered through two years of terrible football with just one win to show for his trouble. Things were about to change under Lang, who showed he could build a winning team. His Trezevant teams went 35-19 over a five-year period and college recruiters flocked to the north Memphis school.

Hoskins would play a big part in Port Gibson’s turnaround. The Blue Waves won three of their first four games and finished 4-7, their best record since 2004. For his effort, Hoskins has been named the Vicksburg Post’s 2009 Defensive Player of the Year.

“He was great. Not only did he lead us in tackles, interceptions and fumble recoveries, he scored 30 points for us as a defensive player. He would make a hit, strip the guy of the ball and then run it back,” Lang said.

Lang said Hoskins possesses a valued skill required to succeed at the next level.

“The biggest thing is his speed. We’ll time him for real in the spring, but I would have to say he’s at least a 4.5 guy. Nobody on our team can outrun him. I first saw him run when he was a ninth grader and I was the assistant principal. As a sophomore I could see that he had great vision on what was happening on the field. You combine that with how well he moves laterally and he has that explosive first step.” Lang said.

And Lang has him back for one more year.

“Yes, Lord. We lose (Joshua) Dotson, but Hoskins is back,” Lang added.

Hoskins’ junior season was impressive. He made an area-best 139 tackles. He intercepted four passes, returning one 70 yards for a touchdown against Jefferson County, and caused six fumbles. He also returned a fumble 18 yards for a score in a win over Madison Parish.

Hoskins also had three other touchdowns that made him the Blue Waves’ third-highest scorer.

“It’s something to feel good about,” Hoskins said of the Post’s honor. “We had a pretty good season. We won one game in my first two years but we won four this year. We did well. But we’re hungry. We want to win. We want to win more games and keep going in the right direction.”

Hoskins has been a lifelong football fan. He grew up idolizing Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.

“I like his dedication to the game and he’s a big hitter. I also like LaRon Landry of the (Washington) Redskins,” Hoskins said.

It’s funny that Hoskins would admire both a linebacker and a safety. At 200 pounds, he’ll probably have to move to the perimeter at the next level — either at outside linebacker or safety.

Lang said that would be fine.

“He’s a hybrid. Some folks like their safeties to be a bit taller, but if you can run, you can play,” Lang said.

Hoskins can do that and his overall skill set compares favorably to another Lang product at Trezevant.

“Hoskins reminds me of Justin Williams, a kid I had who signed with the University of Oklahoma. Justin went on to Oklahoma but he gets behind Roy Williams and after a couple of years he finished up at Tennessee State,” Lang said. Roy Williams starred at Oklahoma and then went to play in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals.

Hoskins, for now, is focused on next year.

“I want to make the players around me better. If I do, we’ll make the playoffs next season and maybe bring home a championship,” he said.


Contact Jeff Byrd at jbyrd@vicksburgpost.com