BY GREGG ELLIS

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE - Saturday will mark Tony Burks' first Egg Bowl.

However, it won't be his first trip to the Ole Miss campus.

Out of high school, Burks originally signed with the Rebels.

But when he didn't qualify, he enrolled at Gulf Coast Community College.

As for returning to Ole Miss, he said that really wasn't an option.

"They were having problems up there (coaching changes), and I thought it would be better if I came here," he said.

Former Ole Miss assistant Ron Middleton recruited Burks in high school. But once he got to junior college, Burks said Ole Miss didn't show a lot of interest.

No problem, the 6-foot-4, 219-pound wideout said, and no regrets.

After all, he's put up some impressive numbers as the Bulldogs' featured receiver.

He's hauled in a team-high 33 passes for 825 yards and has scored five touchdowns.

"Things usually work out for the best," he said.

No war of words?

n Following comments made by Ole Miss linebacker Rory Johnson directed toward the MSU coaching staff and players, Croom warned his players not to respond.

When asked if he would comment on Tuesday, Croom said, "No."

On Monday, Johnson, who originally signed with Mississippi State, was quoted by several newspapers as referring to Croom's recruiting as "lazy."

He also said, "I had a dream about some hits last night, hard hits. I'm talking about takeout shots."

When asked if he was referring to any particular player, he said, "Probably little (Anthony) Dixon."

When told the comment, Dixon smiled and said that he'll do his talking on the field.

Thornton to return

n After missing the last two games with a knee injury, sophomore running back Brandon Thornton is expected to play on Saturday.

How much he'll play and the role he'll have, however, is unknown.

"When he runs straight ahead, he looks pretty good," Croom said. "I expect him to play Saturday in a backup role."

In six games, Thornton has totaled 218 yards with two touchdowns.

Robinson among leaders

n With two tackles for losses against Arkansas, senior defensive tackle Deljuan Robinson is now averaging 1.15 per game, the fourth most in the SEC.

Of his 31 tackles, 11.5 are behind the line of scrimmage.

Bulldog bites

n MSU is looking to win in Oxford for the first time since 1998, when it claimed a 28-6 victory en route to the Western Division title. ... Saturday marks the 103rd meeting between the two rivals, with the Rebels holding a 58-38-6 advantage. ... Defensive back Jeramie Johnson leads the SEC with five forced fumbles. ... Burks has caught at least one touchdown three weeks in a row. ... Derek Pegues ranks 88th nationally in all-purpose yardage and is the only defensive player in the Top 100. He is currently 9th in the NCAA and second in the SEC with a 14.2 yard punt return average. He's also tied for sixth in the SEC with four interceptions and third in kickoff return yardage.

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