Fifteen from Warren Central, VHS plan to sign Wednesday

Published 8:28 am Monday, January 30, 2017

Last football season, Warren Central and Vicksburg High combined for 19 victories. That works out to about one for every player they’ll send to the college ranks next season.

The two programs are expected to have 15 players — a third of the seniors on their rosters — sign with either junior colleges or four-year programs Wednesday morning.

Wednesday is national signing day, the first day that players can sign letters of intent with a college. Several other Warren County players could receive walk-on or scholarship offers after signing day, once programs hold open tryouts and sort through their remaining needs.

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“I’m very proud of this senior class. Any time you can get right at almost 50 percent of the kids on full scholarship, that’s always a plus and a positive,” Vicksburg coach Marcus Rogers said. “You’re measured by wins and losses, and then in the offseason you’re measured by how many young men you can get into school and advance their education and football career.”

Most of Warren County’s 2017 signing class is heading to junior colleges around Mississippi. Only three players — St. Aloysius offensive lineman Ben Brown (Ole Miss), Vicksburg offensive lineman Kenya Cobbs (Arkansas-Pine Bluff) and Warren Central defensive back Shakee Shaw (Jackson State) are expected to sign with four-year schools.

So far, seven Vicksburg High players have committed to junior colleges. Wide receiver Raheam Moore and defensive back Devontay Knight are planning to sign with Jones Junior College; offensive lineman Kordell Watts with Copiah-Lincoln; running back Marlon Hodge with Hinds; defensive back Evan Mobley with Holmes County; and wide receiver James Allen and defensive back Ramses Fultz with Mississippi Delta.

Rogers noted that the low number of four-year offers doesn’t always have to do with athletic or academic achievement. In some cases, he said, a season or two of junior college football is a calculated career move.

“I had a couple of guys that had four-year offers, but they felt like juco could advance it. That’s what gets lost sometimes these days,” Rogers said. “Back in the 90s and early 2000s you went to junior college because you didn’t have grades. Now you’ve got kids that are going to junior college so they can be re-recruited to show their maturity level and develop a little more. You can go for a semester and find yourself in a better place.”

Across town at Warren Central, six players are being recruited by junior colleges and at least two more were planning to take campus visits this past weekend. That doesn’t include Shaw, who is likely to sign with both Jackson State and a junior college.

The players expected to sign Wednesday are quarterback Jesse Wilson, offensive linemen Malcolm Miller and Lynn McCay, running backs Joe Shorter and Demarcus Jones, and wide receiver Shaun Walton.

“We’re hoping to get double digits,” Warren Central coach Josh Morgan said. “That’s a big number. That’s one of our goals around here, is to have guys have a chance to further their education. When your guys can have that reward for buying into the program, for working countless hours and reaping what they’ve sown for four years or more, it’s good to see that reward come to fruition.”

Morgan added that the large number of signees in one year often leads to bigger classes in years to come as younger players see college as an attainable goal. Warren Central had seven players sign in 2015, and countywide 15 signed or accepted walk-on offers. This year, the number is about the same.

“When you can point to that, it sure helps you. With the kids in ninth grade, you can point to days like Wednesday and they see something special,” Morgan said. “That is a tremendous building tool for a coach to use.”

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 140-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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