MOBILE, Ala. – Aberdeen’s all-everything running back Jamerson Love is ready to show fans he can play defense, too.
Love, a Mississippi State commitment, rushed for 1,778 yards rand 21 touchdowns this season in leading the Bulldogs to the MHSAA Class 3A championship game.
In today’s annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound standout is scheduled to start in the secondary.
Love said he isn’t worried about getting the ball as much as he is keeping it away from Alabama’s receivers.
“I want to prove that I can be a shut-down corner,” Love said. “I’m gonna do my all Saturday to show the world I can be that shutdown cornerback.”
Love has enjoyed his all-star experience this week.
“Practice has been great,” he said. “I’m getting to know a lot of people. Everybody is a star player out there. You’ve got to keep your eyes open every play.”
The Mississippi roster includes some heavyweight college prospects, including Oak Grove receiver Steve McNair, Jr., a Southern Miss commitment, South Panola running back Nicholas Parker and defensive lineman Devin Clark, and Itawamba AHS receiver Asian Ruff, who has offers from Arkansas and Mississippi State.
The Mississippi head coach, Lafayette County’s Anthony Hart, has served as a defensive coordinator in this event, but was named to lead the state’s team this year.
“This is a little different perspective,” said Hart, who directed his team to the 4A state title game. “You’re kind of in charge of everything, but it’s been a great experience. The kids have been really good and worked hard.”
Hart said spreading around the touches on offense is probably the toughest challenge. With limited practice time during the week, it takes a few days to learn timing and snaps counts.
“There will probably be some great offensive players that get little to no touches,” he said. “You only have so much time in a ballgame to get that done. Our offensive timing is a big key.”
Alabama leads the series 15-7, winning 28-3 last year. In 2007, Itawamba AHS quarterback Bret Jefcoat was named offensive MVP in Mississippi’s 26-7 victory one of only three wins since 1998.
“I want to win it a lot,” Love said. “I want to not only represent the state of Mississippi. I want to represent Aberdeen, my family, my school, community and all. I’m just going to do my best to help us win.”
On the opposite side, Love will watch future SEC opponents, Demarcus Milliner, Nick Perry and Jarrick Williams are all defensive back commitments to play for Nick Saban at Alabama next season.
The game has been a who’s who of Northeast Mississippi stars as well. This year’s 37-man roster is no different.
Shannon is represented by running back Keon McGaughy, whose cousin, IAHS tailback Deshaun McGaughy, joins Ruff as a second Indians player in the lineup.
West Point defensive lineman Curtis Virges is representing the 5A state champions.
Some notable area players declined their invitations to the game, in at least a few cases to attend an ACT testing session.
2009 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic
When: Today 12:30 p.m.
Where: Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Ala.
From North Mississippi
Devin Clark - DL - 6-2, 265 - South Panola
Shon Coleman - OL - 6-7, 285 - Olive Branch
Jamerson Love - DB - 5-10, 175 - Aberdeen
Deshaun McGaughy - RB - 5-9, 205 - Itawamba
Keon McGaughy - RB - 6-1, 210 - Shannon
Nicholas Parker - RB - 6-1, 210 - South Panola
Damien Robinson - OL - 6-8, 320 - Olive Branch
Asian Ruff - DB - 6-3, 180 - Itawamba
Chris Schuetz - OL - 6-4, 270 - Southaven
Markese Triplett - TW/WR - 6-5, 205 - Louisville
Curtis Virges - DL - 6-3, 280 - West Point
Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal