Warren Central sends 10 to college ranks on football signing day

Published 8:00 am Thursday, February 7, 2019

When he first suited up for Warren Central’s football team as a freshman, offensive lineman Reed Buys recalled looking around, seeing a number of talented players around him, and thinking that some day most of them could be playing college football.

Four years later, Buys and those same teammates gathered in the school’s library. They exchanged handshakes and hugs, signed scholarship papers and took their turn at a table to pose with family members for photos. It was a celebration, and proved Buys’ prophecy right.

Nine Warren Central players, as well as team manager Taylor Lampkin, either signed with colleges or accepted walk-on offers Wednesday on national signing day. The total represented about a fourth of the football team’s 33-person senior class.

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“When I got here in ninth grade I said we’re going to have a lot of people sign and I can’t wait to see it on signing day,” said Buys, who signed with Jones College. “It’s here, and it’s just as great as I thought it would be.”

The only four-year signees in Warren Central’s class were running back Corey Wilson, Jr. and kicker John William Madison, who signed with Southern Miss and Delta State, respectively.

The junior college signees included Buys and Lampkin with Jones; safety Lamar Gray with Copiah-Lincoln; defensive lineman Vertez Shorter with Hinds; offensive linemen George Owens and Terrence Moore with Gulf Coast; and offensive lineman Nick Strong and quarterback Antonio Thompson with Holmes.

Owens, Moore and Thompson accepted preferred walk-on offers, meaning they will have a roster spot but not a scholarship.

Another former WC star, running back-wide receiver DeMarcus Jones, signed with Southern Miss after spending the last two seasons at Northwest Mississippi Community College.

“We put together a very good class. A lot of credit for that goes to Coach (Ross) Coley. He’s always trying to find suitors and takers for our guys, and a lot of credit goes to him on that,” Warren Central head coach Josh Morgan said. Coley, one of the assistants on the coaching staff, serves as the recruiting coordinator. “Also what it shows you is the quality of guys that we have. I think their performance over two or three years speaks for itself. It’s always a good thing when other people want what you’ve got, and we’re very, very proud of them.”

Both Wilson and Madison cited long-running ties that influenced their decisions.
Wilson has known Southern Miss head coach Jay Hopson, a Warren Central alum, since he was a child. When Hopson offered him a scholarship in June it didn’t take long for Wilson to jump on it.

“The bond I’ve got with Coach Hopson is unbreakable. I’ve been knowing him since I was in elementary school. He was like a coach to me,” Wilson said. “He offered me in June and I committed right when he offered. So I’ve been looking toward him since day one. When he offered my heart blew up. He just offered me and now I get to play for him.”

Wilson played a hybrid receiver-running back role at Warren Central. He had 2,247 total scrimmage yards and 28 touchdowns in three varsity seasons, and also returned kicks. He said he expects to play a similar role at Southern Miss.

“They recruited me as an athlete, so it just depends on what I want to do when I get down there. But I’m leaning toward either a running back or a slot (receiver),” Wilson said.

Madison’s ties to Delta State ran a little deeper. He was born in Cleveland, still has family in the area, and has had a number of family members attend the school. He had also been thinking of attending Delta State as a regular student. When the football staff started recruiting him, everything came together.

Madison made 55 consecutive PAT attempts over two seasons before missing his last one in 2018. He also made 5 of 10 field goal attempts, with a long of 46 yards.

“I’m pumped up about it, for sure. My mom went to Delta State and was Miss Delta State. My grandmother graduated from Delta State. I was born in Cleveland. So it’s a big hometown for me kinda deal. It’s a perfect fit for me. I’m excited to go up there and kick for them,” Madison said. “I wasn’t bold set on kicking somewhere, but it came around. They called me looking for a kicker and I liked that school and was looking at going there anyway. I went up there and they offered it, and I was like, ‘This is meant to be.’”

Buys is headed to Jones for an apprenticeship of sorts. The All-Star right tackle had more than two dozen scholarship offers from four-year schools all over the country, but his top two of Ole Miss and Mississippi State did not have any slots left in their signing classes for offensive linemen.

After talking to coaches at both schools and weighing all the offers, Buys decided to go to Jones for one season to gain playing time and experience before hopefully signing with one of the Southeastern Conference teams in December.

“I had D-I offers, but I’ve always been dreaming of playing in the SEC,” Buys said. “After talking to a bunch of SEC coaches I decided to go to juco for a season and after that they’ll sign me. They’d rather me play and get a bunch of experience and that time on the field instead of being on the scout team or something like that. We decided it would be better for me.”

Once that was decided, Buys said the coaching staff and atmosphere at Jones led him to sign there. He’s the eighth player from Warren County to sign with Jones in the past two years.

“I love the coaching staff. I felt home there and felt a connection with the coaches. I felt like they would definitely push me and get me better. I felt like it was the best place for me,” Buys said, adding of the other recent signees from Warren County, “I think they’re feeling the same thing I’m feeling. Just that atmosphere and it’s not like a lot of jucos. They run it like a Division I school, and that’s what stood out to me.”

Reed Buys, OL, Jones JC
Lamar Gray, DB, Copiah-Lincoln CC
Taylor Lampkin, Manager, Jones JC
*George Owens, OL, Gulf Coast CC
John William Madison, K, Delta State
*Terrence Moore, OL, Gulf Coast CC
Vertez Shorter, DL, Hinds CC
Nick Strong, OL, Holmes CC
*Antonio Thompson, Athlete, Holmes CC
Corey Wilson Jr., RB/WR, Southern Miss
*Preferred walk-on; will not receive a scholarship, but does have a guaranteed roster spot

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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