Alcorn State’s signing class low on numbers, big on bulk

Published 10:48 am Friday, February 7, 2014

Vicksburg High quarterback Tavares Johnson Jr. was one of 14 high school football players who signed with Alcorn State this week.

Vicksburg High quarterback Tavares Johnson Jr. was one of 14 high school football players who signed with Alcorn State this week.

In terms of numbers, Alcorn State’s 2014 signing class wasn’t very big. In terms of mass, it might be able to block out the sun.

Alcorn signed 14 players in this year’s class, half of them either offensive or defensive linemen. It was a concerted effort to both bulk up those areas and shore up depth, coach Jay Hopson said.

“A big push for us was O-line and D-line,” said Hopson, a Vicksburg native. “We had a couple of games last year where we had seven offensive linemen. We didn’t graduate any, but we’re thin there. A couple of injuries and you’re in trouble. So we pushed that to 12 or 13.”

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The Braves’ signing class also included defensive backs Daniel Franklin and Lamar Scott, but only two offensive skill players. Vicksburg High quarterback Tavares Johnson Jr. and Hinds Community College running back Darryan Ragsdale were both valued targets for Hopson and his coaching staff.

Ragsdale, who played high school football at Pelahatchie, rushed for 482 yards and four touchdowns last season at Hinds.

Johnson threw for 6,608 yards, 68 touchdowns and only 22 interceptions in four years as a starter at Cleveland East Side and Vicksburg.

Johnson played his freshman and sophomore seasons at East Side, and his last two years at Vicksburg after his father and head coach, Tavares Sr., moved from one job to the other.

“He came to camp and we watched him and were very high on him. We think he’s going to be very good,” Hopson said of Johnson. “I think he’s got a great tool set.”

Franklin, a 5-foot-10, 160-pound speedster from Memphis, and Germantown’s Scott give the Braves options in a secondary that already ranked among the nation’s best against the pass last season. Franklin ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash at a camp workout, Hopson said.

“He’s lightning fast and quick. He’s going to be a great corner,” Hopson said.

Linebackers Cameron Carter from Prentiss and Frederick Ross of Madison Central rounded out Alcorn’s recruiting class. While Hopson was high on both of them, the stars of this year’s class remained the linemen.

Kris Lingo (Tallahassee, Fla.), Christopher McCrea (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and Eric Snow (Mississippi Delta Community College) will provide depth on the offensive line.

Michael Brooks (Brandon), Brandon Campbell (Delray Beach, Fla.) and Sterling Shippy (Miami, Fla.) all look like potential stars on the defensive side, Hopson said.

“You’re always biased toward your own class, but I like each one of them. I think our defensive line class is phenomenal,” Hopson said. “They meet all expectations. We’ve got quality at every position.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 139-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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