By Parrish Alford

Daily Journal

When Parade Magazine needed an All-American tight end it turned to a Frenchman in Mississippi.

Amory's Rufus French, rated the top tight end prospect in the country, has been named first team All-American by Parade Magazine. The magazine will release the complete team Sunday. The Daily Journal carries the magazine.

On a team with many stars, French's magnitude was never lost on Amory coach Bobby Hall.

"If you were going to order a tight end out of the Sears and Roebuck catalog, he'd be the one you'd get," Hall said.

French, 6-5, 224 pounds, caught 50 passes for 654 yards and 14 touchdowns as the explosive Panthers won their second straight Class 3A championship. Parade lists no tight ends on its team, but lists French in a group of receivers. French, who runs a 4.7 in the 40, is the only Mississippi player selected.

"This has all been like a dream for me," French said. "I was able to achieve all the goals I set. The biggest thing I wanted to do was improve my whole game from my junior year, blocking and everything."

As the recruiting season winds down signing day is Feb. 7 French has visited Ole Miss, Auburn and Tennessee and will visit Florida this weekend. A trip to Notre Dame was cancelled by the weather and will not be made up.

French, an academic qualifier, said he will announce his college choice Monday in a press conference at Amory High School.

Who's the winner?

"Just come and find out," he said.

French is the first All-American Hall has coached in his 18-year career. He has also been named All-American by ESPN and USA Today.

"If you're going to pick an All-American team, when you look for a tight end you want somebody who is tall, fast, has great pass catching skills, soft hands and blocks well. If you're grading all those things on a 10-point scale, (French) is a 9 or 10 in every one of those areas," Hall said.

"I really believe in my heart that if this kid does not have a bad injury, that one day he will make a living playing football. Not only does he have great football skills, he's a great person. He's not going to get mixed up with the wrong people and do the wrong things."

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