Mississippi Gridiron identifies the top ten high school defensive tackles as we enter the 2011 season. This ranking is based on several factors and conversations with high school coaches and recruiting professionals, with consideration to a player’s potential but an emphasis on on-the-field production in high school. The list of great players in this state is a long one and some may be left off, but this will get the conversation started as we identify the best players in Mississippi.
This list is part of a series of positional rankings, which will be released daily over the next two weeks.
1. Quay Evans (6’2, 310, SR) Morton
2010 Stats: had 80 tackles and eight sacks last season…posted 104 tackles and 14 sacks as a sophomore
Evans was listed this summer as Scout.com’s #1-rated defensive tackle prospect. He has twice earned Second Team All-State honors from the Clarion Ledger and was a Dandy Dozen selection this year. Evans will have his choice of college to attend, with offers from major programs around the country.
2. Nick James (6’5, 335, SR) Long Beach
2010 Stats: had 50 tackles and 15 sacks last season.
James is ranked as the nation’s 14th-best defensive tackle prospect by Scout.com, and the nation’s 36th-best according to Rivals.com. He was a Dandy Dozen selection by the Clarion Ledger and is committed to Mississippi State.
3. Issac Gross (6’3, 270, SR) South Panola
2010 Stats: finished with 75 tackles and ten sacks.
Gross was a First Team All-6A selection last year by the Mississippi coaches, and a Second Team All-State selection by the Clarion Ledger. Gross was ranked by ESPN’s Scouts.Inc as the nation’s fourth best defensive tackle. Gross is committed to Ole Miss.
4. Maurice Bennett (6’2, 280, SR) Madison Central
2010 Stats: had 37 tackles last season
Bennett posted 37 tackles for the Jaguars last season and is ranked as the nation’s 87th best defensive tackle prospect according to Scout.com. He committed to Washington State this summer.
5. Kel Thurman (6’6, 330, SR) Raleigh
2010 Stats: had 41 tackles and a pair of sacks
Thurman is a standout on both sides of the ball for Raleigh. He’s one of the best offensive and defensive linemen in the state. He had a pair of sacks last year, but his size has attracted attention from college coaches. Thurman is the nation’s 81st best defensive tackle prospect according to Scout.com.
6. D. Q. Reynolds (6’1, 335, SR) Lafayette
2010 Stats: had 63 tackles and four sacks last year.
Reynolds helped lead Lafayette to a State Championship last year, earning First Team All-4A honors from the Mississippi Coaches. Reynolds is the current state powerlifting champion in his division.
7. Gemon’ee Brown (6’1, 280, SR) Petal
Brown will be counted on to be a force for a Panthers’ defense that needs to be good early this year, as head coach Steve Buckley incorporates an entirely new offensive line. He was a big reason for the Petal success a year ago.
8. Randall Boyd (6’1, 240, SR) Forest
Boyd was a dominant force last season as Forest marched to the 3A State Championship. He is not as big as some of the other top defensive tackles, but he was a First Team All-3A selection by the coaches. He could probably be listed as a DT or a DE based on his athleticism and size.
9. Parrish Huddleston (6’2, 265, SR) Baldwyn
2010 Stats: 105 total tackles
Huddleston piled up 105 total tackles last season for Baldwyn, good enough for second on the team as a defensive tackle. He was a First Team All-State selection by the coaches.
10. Terrance Hunter (6’4, 275, SR) Trinity Episcopal
2010 Stats: had 55 tackles and three sacks.
Hunter plays for a small school at Trinity Episcopal of the MAIS, but has attracted college attention with offers from several SWAC schools entering his senior season.
Best of the Rest
David Adams (6’2, 280, SR) South Delta, Alex Faulk (6’1, 295, SR) McComb, Antwon Ivy (6’0, 275, SR) Okolona,Derrick Lyles (6’2, 260, SR) Wesson, Tiyuan Mack (6’1, 305, SR) Madison Central, Quadzing Rogers (6’2, 260, SR) Mooreville, Marquez Stokes (6’2, 250, SR) Charleston, Joel Tyne (6’1, 310, SR) Tupelo
Traderius Everett (6’1, 310, JR) Gulfport
As a sophomore last season, Everett was locked behind a talented senior-laden defensive front for the Gators. He is an unknown entering the season, but he could have a huge season.
Andante Nelson (6’4, 300, SR) Provine
Nelson is one of the more unknown defensive linemen in the state. He played in the middle of the provine defense last year as a nose guard, and still managed 77 tackles with 11 tackles for loss and five sacks. He is already attracting interest from several SEC schools and could easily be one of the state’s best this year.