Mississippi Gridiron identifies the top ten high school quarterbacks as we enter the 2011 season. This ranking is based on several factors and conversations with high school coaches and recruiting professionals, with an attempt to balance a player’s potential and 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 the first of a series of positional rankings, which will be released daily over the next two weeks. Tomorrow we’ll take a look at Mississippi’s running backs. To add to the list or discuss, you can comment on our message board here, or below.
1. Jeremy Liggins (6’4, 260, SR) Lafayette
2010 Stats: passed for 1,661 yards and 20 touchdowns with six interceptions, completing 83-143 passes; rushed for 1,186 yards and 17 touchdowns on 170 carries.
As a junior, he led Lafayette to their first State Championship in school history with 31-6 win over North Pike, while also becoming the first MHSAA school to go 16-0. Liggins was a First Team All-State selection by the Clarion Ledger, as well as a First Team All-4A selection by Mississippi coaches. As a sophomore, Liggins passed for 1, 487 yards and 18 touchdowns, while also rushing for 1, 447 yards and 16 touchdowns. He led Lafayette to the State Championship game, and was a Second Team All-State selection by the Clarion Ledger. Liggins is a three-star recruit and the nation’s #30 quarterback prospect according to Scout.com, and a three-star recruit and the nation’s #17 dual-threat quarterback prospect by Rivals.com. Lafayette Head Coach Anthony Hart says, “I know some are recruiting him as an athlete, but all I can tell you is I have had a few coaches from the SEC tell me he is the closest thing to Cam Newton they have seen on film yet.”
2. Anthony Alford (6’1, 210, SR) Petal
2010 Stats: passed for 1,399 yards and 16 touchdowns with five interceptions, completing 75-138 passes; rushed for 1,253 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Anthony Alford was last season’s Gatorade Player of the Year in Mississippi. Alford was a First Team All-State selection by the Clarion ledger, and the First Team All-6A quarterback as selected by the Mississippi coaches. He was an All-Area First Team selection by the Hattiesburg American. Alford is one of the state’s top baseball prospects this year. He is coming off a knee injury sustained at the end of last football season, and is expected to make a full recovery. Head Coach Steve Buckly says, “Anthony is such a special player. I wouldn’t trade him for anyone. His athleticism and instincts set him apart.”
3. Todd Mays (6’0, 210, SR) Olive Branch
2010 Stats: passed for 1,750 yards and 18 touchdowns with three interceptions; rushed for 552 yards on 148 carries with ten touchdowns.
Todd Mays led Olive Branch to an 8-5 record last year with 1,750 passing yards and another 552 yards on the ground. He accounted for 28 total touchdowns. Mays passed for over 200 yards in a game four times last season, and rushed for more than 100 yards in three games.Mays has been overshadowed by Clarion Ledger Dandy Dozen receiver D’Arthur Cowan, but most coaches in the area are quick to pick Mays as Olive Branch’s top threat.
4. Bo Brennan (6’3, 185, SR) St. Stanislaus
2010 Stats: passed for 2,329 yards and 26 touchdowns, completing 155-250 passes; added another 1,215 yards on the ground with 13 touchdowns.
Bo Brennan led St. Stanislaus to a 9-4 record with 3,544 total yards and 39 touchdowns. Brennan passed for 300 yards or more in three games with a season high 378 yards against Jackson Prep. Brennan also rushed for 100 yards or more in six games, with a season high 224 yards against Hancock.
5. Tyler Sullivan (6’3, 250, SR) Winston Academy
2010 Stats: passed for 2,965 yards and 28 touchdowns, and rushed for 547 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Tyler Sullivan led Winston to a 7-5 season a year ago, accounting for over 3,500 yards of total offense and 41 touchdowns. Sullivan caught the attention of recruiters with his numbers, and his blend of size and athleticism. Winston Academy Head Coach Harold Wisdom says “He’s legit, no doubt about it, he can play. He’s getting a lot of attention. He’s a better athlete than you think, he can go.”
6. Matthew Evans (6’1, 195, SR) Forest
2010 Stats: passed for 1,704 yards and 24 touchdowns with four interceptions, rushed for another 329 yards and four touchdowns.
Matthew Evans led Forest to a 15-1 season a year ago and a State Championship with a 10-8 win over Aberdeen. Evans was a First Team All-3A selection by the Mississippi Coaches after accounting for 28 total touchdowns for the Bearcats. Head Coach Judd Boswell says “I don’t know if I’ve ever had one as smart as he is. He definitely makes us tick on offense.”
7. Lee Smith (6’1, 195, SR) Philadelphia
2010 Stats: passed for 1,374 yards and 18 touchdowns with five interceptions; rushed for a pair of touchdowns.
Lee Smith led Philadelphia to a 12-1 season that ended in the second round of the playoffs by accounting for 20 total touchdowns and 1,374 passing yards. Smith threw for a season high 204 yards against Kosciusko, and threw for 130 yards against Raleigh in the first round of the playoffs.
8. Drew Rowell (6’2, 205, SR) Madison Central
2010 Stats: passed for 1,277 yards and 16 touchdowns with one interceptions, completing 87-159 passes; rushed for 618 yards on 143 carries with 12 touchdowns.
Drew Rowell helped lead the Jaguars to the North State title game in his first year in the program. Rowell piled up 1,895 yards of total offense and 28 touchdowns in Mississippi’s toughest classification. He is a big reason Madison Central will be good again. Coaches who saw him this summer were impressed with his improvement throwing the football, so don’t be surprised to see a great year from Rowell. MC Head Coach Bobby Hall says, “Drew had a great offseason. He might be our most dedicated athlete. He was 195 pounds last season and is up to 218. He has improved his throwing, he is faster and more athletic. I think he is going to have a great year.”
9. Dontrell Pruitt (5’11, 180, SR) Laurel
2010 Stats: passed for 2,569 yards and 24 touchdowns with 14 interceptions, rushed for 342 yards and a pair of scores.
Dontrell Pruitt established himself as one of the state’s best dual-threat quarterbacks last season with 2,911 yards of total offense, including 26 touchdowns. Pruitt led Laurel to a 7-5 record and has them ranked among the top 5 teams in 4A entering this season. Had a season high 428 passing yards against Quitman with five touchdowns.
10. Reid Humphries (6’3, 185, JR) Northwest Rankin
2010 Stats: passed for 1,583 yards and ten touchdowns with nine interceptions,
Humphries had a better season than his numbers indicate, and should find himself much higher on this list following this season. Coaches expect him to have a significantly better statistical season this year with a full year under his belt, due to his obvious natural abilities at the position. He led Northwest Rankin to an 11-2 record that included a share of the 6A Region 2 title last year. Humphries displayed a flair for the dramatic as a sophomore. He is also one of the more talented baseball prospects in the Southeast.
Best of the Rest:
Deangelo Ballard (6’0, 180, JR) Noxubee County, Hull Bolls (5’10, 180, SR) Jackson Academy, Cameron Cooksey(6’1, 195, SR) Vicksburg, Kwadre Griggs (6’2, 195, SO) Greenwood, Khadaryl Hodge (6’0, 170, JR) Mendenhall, Joe Kirkland (6’1, 170, SR) Moss Point, Jaleel Lacey (6’1, 170, SR) Wayne County, Terrian Page (6’0, 170, JR) Taylorsville, Von Smith (5’9, 170, JR) West Oktibehha, Stewart Summers (6’1, 185, SR) Pearl
Gage Posey (6’3, 185, JR) Brookhaven Academy – Gage Posey backed up Chandler Rogers last year, who threw for more than 6,000 yards his final two seasons for the Cougars and is now playing at Copiah-Lincoln Community College. Posey has similar skills, displaying them in the summer with a 28 touchdown and two interception performance in a 7-on-7 tournament.
Joel Love (6’3, 190, SR) MRA – Love backed up Stewart Summers last season, but has an opportunity now as a senior with Summers transferring to Pearl. New head coach Forrest Williams, formerly of St. Stanislaus, thinks Love has Division I potential as a signal-caller. Williams says, “He hasn’t done it yet, but Joel has tremendous raw ability. He has Division I talent, he just needs the opportunity and experience.”
Alex Woodall (6’2, 215, SO) McComb – Alex Woodall is under the radar because he is getting his first major playing time this year. He got his feet wet as a freshman, but was impressive in the spring. He is an impressive athlete and should help McComb move up the 5A Region 3 standings the next three years. Along with Kwadre Griggs of Greenwood, they are they are the early leaders for the quarterback class of 2014.