Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Mississippi hit the practice fields last week in anticipation of the 2019 football season. Ole Miss returns eight defensive starters led by tackle Benito Jones, but the Rebels lost a bevy of talented offensive players, and the youngsters led by quarterback Matt Corral will have to grow up fast. The OM offense does have a solid performer returning in running back Scottie Philips, who rushed for 12 touchdowns and 928 yards. For Mississippi State to be successful, they will have to replace several key members of their vaulted defensive unit from a year ago. They lost three defensive starters in the first round of the NFL draft who will be hard to replace. MSU also has to replace a three-year starter in Nick Fitzgerald at quarterback. The Bulldogs have two solid hopefuls in Keytaon Thompson and Penn State transfer Tommy Stevens. Southern Mississippi could be in for a banner year. They have every notable player from last year’s team back. Quarterback Jack Abraham and wide receiver Quez Watkins will help the offense light up the scoreboard. The Golden Eagles defense should be solid again.
One of the Best Ever
I have been writing sports for five decades, but I will have to say the best basketball shooting guard I ever saw play in the Mississippi high school circles was Gulfport’s Chris Jackson. Sometime during this basketball season, Jackson will be the fifth LSU basketball player to have his jersey (35) retired. He exploded in his first year at LSU (1988-89) as he averaged 30.2 points per game, setting a freshman NCAA single season scoring record. He played only two seasons at LSU but was a two-time SEC Player of the Year. He scored in double digits in 63 of his 64 college games. Jackson scored over 20 points 52 times in his brief college career. He did all this as he was dealing with the rare disease Tourette syndrome. Tourette syndrome involves repetitive movements or sounds that can’t be easily controlled. Jackson's high school coach Bert Jenkins stated that during one practice, Jackson made 283 consecutive free throws. Jackson became the third overall pick in the 1990 NBA draft and changed his name to Abdul-Rauf. He played nine seasons in the league. Rauf, 50, presently plays in the BIG3 (three-on-three) pro league.
MLB Baseball News
Two Major League baseball players with ties to Mississippi were on the move last Wednesday on the MLB deadline for trades. Former Brookhaven Academy and Meridian Community College product Corey Dickerson was traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Philadelphia Phillies. Former Ole Miss pitcher Drew Pomeranz was traded from San Francisco to the Milwaukee Brewers. Former USM baseball star Brian Dozier made his Major League debut as a pitcher this past weekend as his Washington Nationals fell to Arizona, 18-7. Dozier, who usually plays second base, pitched one inning of relief in the blowout loss. He allowed three runs and now has a MLB pitching ERA of 18.00. Dozier, who won a Gold Glove in 2017 for the Minnesota Twins, has smacked 15 home runs for the Nationals this summer. Former Ole Miss pitcher Lance Lynn (14-6) is tied, as of Sunday, for the Major League lead in pitching wins with 14. In his last start this past Friday night, he allowed one run on four hits and walked two over seven innings against Detroit. MSU legend Jake Mangum is hitting .238 for the Brooklyn Cyclones.
Odds & Ends
Did you know that Mississippi leads the country in college football signees per capita? The Magnolia State produced 61 signees last year, with a population under three million. Overall, Mississippi was fifth in the nation with 124 signees when combining the JUCO and high school signees.
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