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July 3, 2006One look at the Rivals.com Mississippi Top 25 will tell you that the two in-state SEC programs appear to have made progress with regards to keeping the best talent from the Magnolia State at home to play college football.
Batesville South Panola inside linebacker Chris Strong, the top prospect in the country at his position, tops the inaugural list. Strong, the cousin of former Ole Miss great Eddie Strong, committed to the Rebels early. The 6-foot-3, 251-pounder could also find a home at defensive end at the next level, but his versatility makes him even more valuable. Strong is the nation's No. 46 overall prospect and is the lone Mississippi prospect in the Rivals100.
Just outside the Rivals100 is Okolona running back Robert Elliott, another Ole Miss commit. Elliott is a good blend of power and speed and has excellent vision and running skills. He rushed for 1,861 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2005 and is the nation's No. 13 running back prospect.
Mississippi State defensive end commit Jazzmen Guy has very good pass rushing skills and sits just behind Strong and Elliott on the list. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder is quick of the edge and moves well in space. He also has the size to move inside if he can put on a few pounds in college.
Natchez Trinity Episcopal's Stevan Ridley is the type of versatile prospect that programs covet. He can play running back, he can play linebacker or even strong safety. Ridley committed to Ole Miss early, but then backed out and pledged to LSU. He checks in at No. 5.
Offensive lineman Derek Sherrod of Columbus Caledonia is one of the most highly-recruited prospects in the state this year. He has scholarship offers from a plethora of schools, including Miami (Fla.), Notre Dame, Michigan and Florida, in addition to the in-state programs. Sherrod's brother plays at Mississippi State, so the Bulldogs are expected to hold the in-state edge.
Leroy Diggs from Batesville South Panola is a dynamic athlete who projects as a cornerback at the next level, but also could realistically play slot receiver or some sort of all-purpose slot back role. He has quick feet and makes big plays for his team. The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder is committed to Ole Miss, but has been looking around somewhat recently.
A big middle linebacker that will hit you, Hollandale (Miss.) Simmons linebacker Antonio White had more than 160 tackles in 2005. The Mississippi State commit checks in inside the top 10 at No. 8.
Charleston athlete Johnny Brown plays running back for his high school team, but could play defensive back at the next level. The 6-foot, 190-pounder was impressive playing cornerback during summer camps. He is committed to Ole Miss.
Fullback Jeramie Griffin has good size and speed and could be used at either fullback or tailback in college. He is the fifth Ole Miss commit and the third prospect from Batesville South Panola in the top 10.
Rounding out the top 15 are Madison Central offensive lineman Chaz Ramsey, Oxford middle linebacker John Frink, Coffeeville all-purpose back Lee Chambers, Terry safety Antwon Dixon and Oxford defensive back Jamison Hughes.