Top 10 Countdown: No. 2 Starkville

Starkville senior quarterback Luke Altmyer. (Photo by Chris Brooks)

Starkville will begin this season ranked No. 2 in our preseason Top 10. With a Florida State commit and Mississippi State commit in the backfield, this team should put up a lot of points. The defense also returns talent. The Yellowjackets have opened the previous two seasons as our early No. 1, and produced a 23-5 combined record. The pieces are in place to end this season on top.

No. 2: Starkville Yellowjackets

Head Coach: Chris Jones

2019 Record: 12-3 (Class 6A Semifinalist)

Starters Returning: Offense: 4 Defense: 4

Players to Watch: QB Luke Almyer; RB Amariyon Howard; LB Keyshawn Lawrence; RB/LB Jordan Mitchell; LB Ahmir Taylor; DE Ronnie Randle; DL Jacorius Hendricks.

Coach Speak: “We don’t have the big go to guy outside,” Jones said. “Our strength has always been a pass first offense but this year our strength will be running the ball. However you can’t load the box with a guy like Luke back there. He’s our trigger-man and has played a lot of football in his career and we expect big-time things out of him this year.”

Outlook: The Yellowjackets have had a lot of success throwing the football in the first three seasons under Chris Jones. In 2020 things will be a bit different as Starkville will be a run-first offense. Mississippi State commit Amariyon Howard returns to lead the rushing attack after rushing for 833 yards with six touchdowns last year. Jordan Mitchell (358 yards rushing, three touchdowns) will also help the running game. The key returner is Florida State commit Luke Altmyer who passed for 3,093 yards with 37 touchdowns last season. The offense must find a go-to receiver after all three top receivers from last year graduated. Defensively, the front seven is the strength led by linebackers Keyshawn Lawrence (92 tackles, 8 sacks) and Ahmir Taylor (77 tackles, 6 sacks) along with defensive tackle Jacorius Hendricks and defensive end Ronnie Randle. The secondary is a concern to start the season.

Season Opener: Sept. 4 vs. West Point.