To celebrate the start of high school football season in Mississippi, we ranked the Top 25 players of the past 25 years. It was impossibly hard, no doubt erroneous, and a lot of fun — and shows just how great the talent is in Mississippi.
A couple notes on the rankings:
- Graduated in 1994 or later
- Friday nights only. College and pro careers not considered.
- Team success mattered but lack of it was not held against.
- Main factors: production – talent – dominance – impact – playing era
- Writers and coaches were actively consulted but the ranking is ours.
25. Gardner Minshew – Brandon QB (2014)
Prodigious pocket passer threw for 105 TDs as a three-year starter.
24. DeAndre Brown – Ocean Springs WR (2008)
The Gulf Coast’s second coming of Randy Moss.
23. Damarius Bilbo – Moss Point QB (1998)
Legendary throws. Why did they make this guy NOT a quarterback?
22. Jason Campbell – Taylorsville QB (2000)
An original standard-bearer of the position in Mississippi.
21. Chris Strong – South Panola DE (2007)
Absolute monster on the edge at the height of Tigers run.
20. Michael Spurlock – Gentry QB (2001)
Spindly dual-threat quarterback broke scoreboards on Fridays.
19. Dylan Favre – St. Stanislaus QB (2010)
Tough two-way star set a state record for career passing yards.
18. Darren Williams – Clarksdale ATH (2002)
This do-it-all athlete was one of the most gifted to ever play. R.I.P.
17. Tyler Russell – Meridian QB (2009)
Prototype star threw 40 TD’s as senior and ended South Panola streak.
16. Derek Pegues – South Panola ATH (2005)
Option quarterback and corner, was at his best when it meant most.
15. Omar Conner – Noxubee County QB (2003)
Explosive record-setter in the early days of dual-threat quarterbacks.
14. Jerrell Powe – Wayne County DT (2005)
The rare combination of size, speed, power and motor in the middle.
13. Jimmy Johns – Brookhaven ATH (2005)
An all-around player in a quarterback role. Dictated every part of the game.
12. Dwayne Rudd – South Panola LB (1994)
The poster boy for linebacker play in Mississippi — then and now.
11. Sylvester ‘BoBo’ Brown – Madison Central RB (2001)
You knew who was getting the ball every time and it never mattered.
10. Romaro Miller – Shannon QB (1997)
His 12,315 yards of total offense was a Mississippi record at the time.
9. Dontae Walker – Clinton RB (1999)
An SEC back in a high school backfield. A unique combo of speed and power.
8. Jeff Simmons – Noxubee County DE (2016)
The baddest dude with his hand in the dirt. Destroyed games.
7. Terrance Metcalf – Clarksdale OL (1998)
Hard to measure offensive lineman but he loomed above the rest.
6. Brian Darden – Warren Central RB (1994)
Explosive and electric. Arguably the greatest all-around back.
5. Tony Conner – South Panola S (2013)
Dominated games from the safety position like none have before or since.
4. Dicenzo Miller – Weir RB (1998)
Small school, big legend. Miller held the career rushing TD record for years.
3. Darius ‘Tig’ Barksdale – South Panola RB/S (2008)
As powerful a hitter as he was a runner. 300 yards was in play every night
2. Jerious Norwood – Brandon RB (2002)
Graceful, quick and impossibly fast. Was simply unstoppable.
1. Cam Akers – Clinton QB (2017)
The most dangerous offensive weapon ever deployed in Mississippi
HONORABLE MENTIONS (“Seriously he didn’t make it?”)
Anthony Alford (Petal QB)
Nick Brassell (South Panola ATH)
AJ Brown (Starkville WR)
Doug Buckles (Madison Central OL)
Chad Bumphis (Tupelo WR)
Fletcher Cox (Yazoo City LB)
Quinten Culberson (Provine ATH)
Anthony Dixon (Terry RB)
Jerrion Ealy (Jackson Prep RB)
Mike Espy (Madison Central WR/ATH)
Parys Haralson (Madison Central DE)
Noah Ingram (Ruleville RB)
Justin Jenkins (Pearl QB/ATH)
Tylan Knight (Pearl ATH)
Jeremy Liggins (Lafayette Co. QB)
Clarence McDougal (Clinton RB/S)
D.K. Metcalf (Oxford WR)
Freddie Milons (Starkville WR)
Will Overstreet (Jackson Prep DL)
Tobias Singleton (Madison Central WR)
Chris Spencer (Madison Central OL)
Derrick Sherrod (Caledonia OL)
Ken Topps (Shannon QB)
Devin Voorhies (Wilkinson Co. ATH)