Sports fans have plenty to watch and enjoy this week.
The national championship game was this week, and this intriguing game has plenty of common ground with a former Lee Academy player. In 2009, Anthony Steen chose the University of Alabama from among many scholarship offers.
At any level, it is a big deal to compete for a championship, much less win one. Steen, however, enjoyed success that is absolutely staggering, including three national championships and two SEC titles.
Let’s look at his common ground with the upcoming national championship game. For all five of his seasons at Alabama, the head coach was Nick Saban and the defensive coordinator was Kirby Smart, who now leads the Georgia Bulldogs.
Steen is also familiar with the task of repeating as national champions, as Alabama is one game away from achieving. Steen has the amazing feat of playing for three different teams trying to repeat (in 2010, 2012, and 2013). His 2012 team actually did repeat as champs, so his 2013 team was pursuing a historic three-peat before Auburn’s kick-six return sent them home.
Another storyline of the the game is that this is a rematch of the earlier SEC Championship game. Steen has also played in a national championship rematch, against LSU in the Sugar Bowl at the conclusion of the 2011 season. LSU took the first game, 9-6, in overtime. The rematch was a blowout 21-0 win for Steen’s Crimson Tide.
The media is also focusing on whether Alabama’s offensive line can once again protect their Heisman Trophy winner, Bryce Young, as they did in the earlier matchup. Once again, it’s been-there-done-that for Steen. Although he was being redshirted, he was a young understudy of the offensive line tasked with paving the way for Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram against Texas in the title game.
Few players in college football history have enjoyed that many titles. This is a part of local sports history that each of us should know.
The week also brings a landmark day for baseball junkies. Today marks the beginning of the 40-day countdown until pitchers and catchers report for spring training. For baseball fans who long for 90-degree weather and the long summer days, the day that pitchers and catchers report has long been the celebration that winter will soon leave us. Between now and then, look for the Atlanta Braves to make some monumental roster moves, including the result of the Freddie Freeman negotiations, that will keep fans riveted.
And then there is that other part of football that never ends: recruiting and the transfer portal. For those who doubt the importance of recruiting, it might be useful to know that the two teams with the highest-rated recruiting classes over the past five years are Alabama and Georgia, who play for the national championship on Monday.
This is becoming a big year for the state of Mississippi, including the two SEC teams. Mississippi State is having an outstanding recruiting class. Of the top 25 football prospects in Mississippi (according to the 247 Sports composite ratings), 11 of them have committed to Mississippi State and two more will likely commit. Seven of the 11 are defensive players, and two more are listed as athletes, so they could become defensive players. For a team known mostly for head coach Mike Leach’s offense and Heisman candidate Will Rogers, the Bulldogs are stocking up their defense to become dangerous on both sides of the ball. With 22 commitments and two four-star players, MSU stands in the top 25, at number 22 in the team rankings.
Also in the top 25 of recruiting classes is Ole Miss, currently ranked 25th. With only 17 commits, Ole Miss has one of the five smallest classes of teams currently in the top 25. One reason for the smaller class could be that head coach Lane Kiffin is posturing for recruits from the transfer portal. Reports from earlier this week support that theory, naming the Rebels as the leader for Zach Evans, a talented running back transfer from TCU.
Jackson State grabbed their second high-profile recruit of the season, as former four-star recruit, Kaveon Mullins from South Carolina is headed to the Magnolia State to play for coach Deion Sanders.
The deadline for entering the NFL Draft is the 17th of January, meaning that coaches will then know who they need to replace from the transfer portal and the traditional February signing period. That goes both ways, as unsigned high school recruits and transfer portal players can see which teams are losing players to the NFL and respond accordingly.
We’re excited about providing coverage of the 2022 Coahoma Community College football recruiting class. Based on sources in the high school programs, this is a strong crop of players for the North Delta, and the next season will be a banner year.