OXFORD • How many players the caliber of J.J. Pegues has Chris Cutcliffe coached?
Pegues is indeed a rarity. The Oxford senior stands 6-foot-3, 270 pounds and will play as many as five positions this fall: quarterback, running back, tight end, receiver and defensive lineman.
He’s the state’s No. 3-rated prospect for 2020, according to the 247Sports composite rankings, and has offers from several SEC schools.
Cutcliffe is getting the most he can get out of Pegues while he still has him.
“That’s one of his best assets is he can do so many things,” Cutcliffe said. “He’s such a smart, smart kid, such a smart football player. We can put a lot on his plate.”
Last year, Pegues rushed for 255 yards and nine touchdowns; made 28 catches for 346 yards and five TDs; and threw for two TDs on his only two pass attempts of the season.
Those two throwing scores came in a 21-17 win against DeSoto Central. Pegues also rushed for a touchdown.
Pegues said playing multiple positions doesn’t bother him at all.
“It’s fun,” he said. “Sometimes it can wear you down, but at the end of the day they need me. Just to win the game, I’ll play any position.”
Cutcliffe will get the ball to Pegues any way he can. Even at the Class 6A level, defenses have trouble matching up with him.
His versatility is a big reason college coaches like him so much.
“Everybody is impressed with how he moves at that size,” Cutcliffe said. “Everybody is impressed with his ball skills for a guy as big as he is.”
Pegues gets his physical gifts from his father, Jerry Pegues, who was a tight end and defensive end at Oxford in the 1990s and then played at Arkansas State.
Jerry Pegues suffered a knee injury in high school, and some Division I programs lost interest in him after his production dipped. He doesn’t want the same thing to happen to J.J., who missed three full games last fall with a meniscus injury.
“So he always talks to me and tells me, ‘It’s a mind thing. Don’t let it get to you,’ because it got to him,” J.J. said. “He had a couple of D-I offers, but they went away because it got to his head.”
Pegues actually played defense until eighth grade and has been mainly on offense since. He didn’t see much time on the defensive side last year, but he could be a pass-rushing threat on third downs this fall.
As Cutcliffe said, “He can do it all.”
Oxford, which went 9-3 last year, opens the season Aug. 23 at home versus Northwest Rankin.