Gators put three players on Class 5A All-State team

Published 9:30 pm Friday, December 3, 2021

Vicksburg High’s football program received another measure of respect on Friday, as well as one of how far they’ve come in a year.

Three Vicksburg players — safety Jaleel Fleming, linebacker Demarion Robinson and offensive lineman Jaquez Williams — were selected to the Mississippi Association of Coaches Class 5A All-State team.

It’s the first time since 2011 that Vicksburg has placed more than one player on the All-State team.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Fleming and Robinson were picked to the All-State first team, and Williams to the second team in voting by the state’s coaches.

“We went from 2-8 to winning in the first round of the playoffs, to having 22 guys on the all-district team and three guys on the all-state team,” Gators coach Todd McDaniel said. “It’s just a testament to how hard the kids worked, how hard the coaching staff worked, and I believe this is just the beginning for our program. I’m just elated to how these kids worked and how they’re being recognized after the season.”

Fleming emerged as one of the best defensive backs in Mississippi during his junior season. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder led the state with 10 interceptions and broke up seven additional passes. He also made 35 tackles.

“I believe Jaleel is the best safety in the state of Mississippi, by far. You don’t find many kids that are 6-3, 6-4, 185 pounds that can cover both sides of the field once the ball is up in the air,” McDaniel said. “Once the quarterback throws a deep ball, it’s a 50-50 chance that Jaleel is going to come down with it. People stopped throwing down the field on us because he was able to roam the field so well.”

While Fleming anchored the secondary, Robinson took care of everything between there and the quarterback. The senior middle linebacker finished with a team-high 125 tackles, including 13 tackles for loss and four sacks.

Robinson also had six forced fumbles and one interception, which McDaniel said spoke to his versatility and speed. McDaniel joked that he even considered playing Robinson at running back, but “didn’t want to wear him out.”

“He can do so many different things well. He’s probably one of the fastest players on the team and we’re going to really miss him,” McDaniel said. “He was our leader on defense. Great run stopper. It was hard to run up the middle or sideline to sideline on him because he was so fast. We witnessed that every day in practice.”

Williams, meanwhile, was a driving force for the Gators’ offensive success. The big left tackle helped to spearhead a rushing attack that gained more than 3,500 yards and had three players finish with 800 yards or more. Quarterback Ronnie Alexander also threw for 1,180 yards.

“He anchored our offensive line,” McDaniel said of Williams. “He did a great job showing leadership over the course of the year. He was one of the elder statesmen. We’re losing two other senior offensive linemen, but is the big plug that made us go. Whenever we needed a tough three or four yards, we lined up and ran behind him.”

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.

email author More by Ernest