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Preseason State Rankings:
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Pound for pound, few states pack a punch like Mississippi when it comes to recruiting.
Even though the state ranks only 31st in population (with 2,967,297 people as of 2010), it was the 15th best producer of BCS-conference signees during the previous 10 recruiting cycles. All told, Mississippi averaged 27.2 of them from 2002-11.
This year, longtime observers say, the Magnolia State is slightly down in terms of both star power and overall talent. That said, as of Monday 37 Mississippi Class-of-2012 prospects already had FBS offers.
Translation: Even in a so-called "down" year, this state still produces an abundance of talent.
Today, Rivals.com is releasing the first batch of its state-by-state preseason rankings with the unveiling of rankings from Mississippi, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and the District of Columbia. Every day until July 20, a few more states will be released.
In Mississippi, the top 25 is loaded with future BCS-league talent.
As one would expect, this group is impressive at the top, where dual-threat quarterback Anthony Alford, defensive tackle Quay Evans and defensive end Channing Ward vied for the No. 1 overall spot. Each player is ranked in the prestigious Rivals250, and each has his pick of elite college programs from which to choose.
In the end, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Alford, who has accepted an invitation to play in the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, was the choice for No. 1.
The talented signal caller and the country's No. 105 overall prospect claims offers from the likes of Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Nebraska, South Carolina, Southern Miss and Tennessee.
In 2010, Alford was the Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year after accumulating 2,652 yards of offense and 35 touchdowns while leading his team to an 11-2 record and a district title. And, truth be known, football may only be his second best sport. Some project Alford to go high in the 2012 Major League Baseball first-year player draft.
In the other rankings released today, quarterback Casey Cochran (Connecticut), strongside defensive end Luke Kaumatule (Hawaii), inside linebacker Camren Williams (Massachusetts), running back Barry Sanders (Oklahoma) and defensive tackle Eddie Goldman (District of Columbia) were No. 1 in their respective states.
Sanders is the son of the NFL legend.
Goldman,a five-star talent, is the highest-rated prospect mentioned in today's rankings. He's No. 4 overall (and No. 1 at his position) in the Rivals100.