Mississippi prep football all-star Gabe Myles led Starkville high school to a 5A state championship as a quarterback this season. Myles has committed to play for Mississippi State next season, as a cornerback. He will get first test on defense at the 26th annual Alabama-Mississippi Classic on Saturday.
“To me, you can play more freely,” Myles said. “You don’t have to worry about coverage or anything like that. Now it’s, I have this man if he comes over here, this is my assignment. Defense allows you to play more freely and it’s more fun over there anyway.”
“We’ve got some wonderful receivers here from Mississippi and they’re doing a wonderful job of preparing me for what Alabama has to give me,” Myles said. “The first day was a little rusty, now I’m getting in the groove of things.”
Broadstreet coach Demaris Mitchell, who is coaching the defensive backs for the all-star game, said Myles’ time at quarterback could help him on defense.
“He has an opportunity to read route-concepts because he’s used to throwing those same concepts from being a quarterback,” Mitchell said. “He’s having no problem transitioning. We’ve been working him trying to get him used to turning his hips and running with some of those speed guys.”
Starkville coach Jamie Mitchell, who is also coaching at the all-star game, said Myles saw “very limited” time on defense in high school. But after practicing against Mississippi’s top receivers for the week, Myles is making quick progress.
“I’ve gotten to talk to him a couple of times and he seems to really be enjoying it.” Mitchell said. “He’ll do great, I guarantee that.”
Small fish, big pond
Alabama prep football all-star Anthony Johnson is in unfamiliar territory. Among the top seniors in the state, the Maplesville standout is the only player from a 1A school.
“I know everybody else comes from a bigger school, but they’ve just got more people,” Johnson said. “It’s still the same. Everybody wants to be the best.”
Head coach Chris Yeager from Mountain Brook said coming from a smaller school could be an advantage for Johnson.
“The great thing about a 1A player is they never leave the field,” Yeager said. “So, you’ve got a versatile athlete. We’ve plugged him in a little bit at tight end, we’ve plugged him in at wide receiver, he’s played outside linebacker. He’s a playmaker, he’s got a great future ahead of him. I think that’s the advantage, just such versatility.”
Johnson said he welcomes the challenge.
“Everybody out here is good, they’re out here because they’re good. Everybody’s doing their best and trying to stand out. I’m out here to compete. I’m not backing down from anyone.”
If it’s not one, it’s the other
Carver quarterback Jeremy Johnson tweeted “War Eagle” once news broke of Gus Malzahn’s hiring at Auburn on Dec. 5. It only took four days for Malzahn to reach out to his top quarterback recruit and convince Johnson he would flourish in his high-tempo, spread offense.
“Coach Malzahn’s offense is one of the best in the nation,” Johnson said. “I’m looking forward to playing in his offense and he’s looking forward to having me as his quarterback.
“Zone read is what I do best. I can do under-center also, but playing in coach Malzahn’s offense, I’m looking forward to putting up big numbers.”
While at Arkansas State, Malzahn recruited Shaun Rupert, Johnson’s teammate at Carver, to play defensive back at Arkansas State. Despite the coaching change, Rupert remains committed to the Red Wolves.
“I didn’t take it as a big deal because I’m kind of a defensive guy,” Rupert said. “It didn’t really affect me. I still feel like I’m in a good position.”
Mississippi all-star offensive lineman Deon Mix said he grew up an Alabama fan, but “fell in love” once he visited Mississippi State. Mix has committed to the Bulldogs and stays with offensive linemen Tobias Smith or Gabe Jackson once a month … Alabama all-star Camer Echols-Luper, a Texas A&M commit, said Aggies’ freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel winning the Heisman trophy has inspired him to do the same. “It really tells you that the sky’s the limit,” Echols-Luper said. “Freshman won the Heisman, I plan to be the second. He’s really inspired me to step my game up.”