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March 13, 2014
RCS Mississippi: What to watch
Talent is coming from near and far to compete at the Hattiesburg, Miss., stop of the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour. The home state of Mississippi will be well represented, but top talents from Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida and Arkansas are planning to make the trip.
The Rivals Camp Series got off to a fast start with a very talented showing in New Orleans late last month. On Saturday, we'll still have a little Louisiana flavor since several top prospects have decided to return to the camp series as it stops in Hattiesburg. Included among the returnees are four New Orleans RCS MVP winners. Wide Receiver and Five-Star Challenge invitee Tyron Johnson looks to put on a repeat of his performance. Defensive back MVP Malik Antoine, linebacker MVP Michael Divinity and running back MVP and 2017 LSU commitment Dylan Moses also return for more action.
Defensive back Deshawn Raymond was named to the defensive top performers list in New Orleans, and Daniel James, Jaylon Johnson and Darius Williams earned Best of the Rest nods. Arthur McGinnis also will make a return appearance after seeing his New Orleans camp cut short by a muscle strain.
Louisiana will also be represented by a few first-time camp attendees. Four-star running back and Nebraska commitment Kendall Bussey is ready to show off his explosiveness. Destrehan (La.) wide receiver Kirk Merritt has been one of the hottest prospects in the region and continues to pick up offers from across the country for his abilities at receiver and running back. He will be joined by speedy Covington (La.) St. Paul's receiver Jalen McCleskey, who recently picked up his first offer from USF.
In the trenches, Louisiana will also be sure to make some noise. Defensive tackle Jozie Milton has been picking up offers one after another for his play at defensive tackle and center. Franklinton (La.) offensive guard Adrian Magee has been offered by LSU and is attracting plenty of attention. Then there is tackle Garrett Thomas out of Many (La.), who at 6-foot-6 and 300-pounds has been on the radar of college programs for years now.
[ PHOTOS: All-time Rivals.com Mississippi 5-stars ]
There will be 10 four-star prospects in attendance on Saturday, with the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Louisiana represented in the group. Mississippi leads the way with five of the state's seven four-star standouts planning to attend. The position groups are generally strong but the linebacker group is absolutely loaded. Brookhaven (Miss.) linebacker Leo Lewis leads a group that also includes Timothy Washington, Joshua McMillon and McGinnis.
The five four-star prospects from Mississippi will be joined by plenty of other talent. Defensive end Keith Joseph Jr. out of Pascagoula has been making some noise, and Yazoo City's Gabriel Campbell is definitely a guy who could make a strong, lasting impression. Big Senatobia (Miss.) Magnolia Heights offensive lineman Matt Womack will be doing his part to try and stop the two standout defensive ends. Wommack picked up his first offer from UAB on Tuesday.
Quarterback will have more than a few standouts as well. Meridian's J'Mar Smith will be joined by Cameron Myers and Blake Hawkins. Former Olive Branch quarterback Ross Trail, who will play his senior season in Wynne (Ark.), will also return to Mississippi to perform at Hattiesburg. Then the skill players on offense and defense will be as strong as ever with the likes of Jonnas Spivey, Mark McLaurin, Chris Stamps, Kennan Barnes, Jaylen Smith and Armani Linton.
Underclassmen stepping out
The underclassmen are going to have their work cut out for them with so many standout seniors-to-be in attendance, but there are a few ready to make their presence felt. Laurel (Miss.) class of 2016 duo Keon Howard and Octavious Cooley are gearing up to compete, as is Sardis (Miss.) North Panola running back and Ole Miss commitment Justin Connor. Also keep an eye on Waynesboro (Miss.) Wayne County 2016 defensive tackle Benito Jones, who already holds offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Miss.
A few out of state underclassmen are also hoping to catch some attention. Jonesboro (Ark.) 2016 running back Denzel Mitchell is hard to miss at 6-foot, 200 pounds and running a 4.4 40-yard dash. He already holds offers from Ole Miss, Arkansas and Arkansas State. Mobile (Ala.) St. Paul's offensive guard Darius Whitfield has an impressive list of his own with offers from Florida State, Louisville, Ole Miss and South Carolina. Then there is Niceville (Fla.) safety Romeo Finley who has been offered by the likes of Clemson, Tennessee, South Alabama and USF. Linebacker Tim Hart out of Memphis (Tenn.) is also one to watch on Saturday.
Jason Howell is a Midlands Region football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.