Mississippi Madness: Five key recruiting storylines in the Magnolia State
The 2022 high school football season is fast approaching in Mississippi. Several of the top prospects in the state are gearing up for their final campaign on the prep level before suiting up for the college of their choice.
Here are five key recruiting storylines in the Magnolia State ahead of the fall football season.
WILL ALABAMA FLIP SUNTARINE PERKINS?
Suntarine Perkins is currently ranked as the No. 1 player in Mississippi. Committed to Ole Miss, Perkins is an exceptional athlete that will likely spend his collegiate career at outside linebacker. Perkins has been committed to Lane Kiffin and the Rebels since last November, but that has not stopped Nick Saban and Alabama from attempting to flip him.
There was a lot of talk that Perkins was going to flip to the Crimson Tide this summer, but the Rebels survived Alabama's push and maintained the four-star's pledge. What Suntarine Perkins ultimately ends up deciding to do is a key storyline to track this fall.
CAN OLE MISS CLOSE ON AYDEN WILLIAMS?
Ayden Williams is due for another rise in the Rivals rankings after turning heads this summer. The four-star pass catcher is a well-rounded receiver that is a smooth athlete, features great body control, and has more than held his own against some of the premier defensive backs in the nation.
Williams is officially down to six - with Ole Miss, LSU, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Jackson State making the cut and Mississippi State staying involved -- but this appears to be an SEC West battle between the Rebels and Tigers.
Lane Kiffin is selling Williams on becoming the next great receiver to come out of Oxford, and that is something that has the four-star's attention. Keeping a talent like Williams in the state is crucial for Ole Miss.
WHO WILL LAND ISAAC SMITH?
Isaac Smith is one of the best prospects in Mississippi for the 2023 cycle, but he remains open in his recruitment ahead of his final season. Smith plans to release a top schools list early in the fall, with Georgia, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, and Texas A&M among the programs in the picture for the safety.
Smith has taken just one of his five official visits - to Vanderbilt in June - and has plans to likely use three of the remaining four at Georgia, Texas A&M, and Mississippi State.
The Commodores made a big impression on Smith in June, while the Bulldogs from Starkville have made a serious push this summer. Kirby Smith and the Bulldogs out of Athens cannot be discounted here either, with his recruitment likely coming down to one of those three programs.
CAN UTAH HOLD ON TO TWO BIG COMMITS?
Utah is not a program that typically dips into Mississippi on the recruiting trail, but the Utes have secured a pair of important commitments from the Magnolia State in the 2023 cycle: quarterback Mack Howard and defensive lineman Caleb Bryant.
Wide receivers coach Chad Bumphis has notable ties to the state, and he has played a big role in the Pac-12 program earning the pledges from two of Mississippi's best. Holding on to both Howard and Bryant would be massive for Kyle Whittingham, especially with Mississippi State trying to make a push to keep Bryant close to home and USC recently offering the Vicksburg (Miss.) defender.
WHO IS THE BIGGEST FALL RISER?
It seems as if every recruiting cycle, there is a player from Mississippi that skyrockets up the rankings during their senior season. Last year, it was Mississippi State signee Trevion Williams, who finished as one of the highest-rated four-star prospects in the nation.
This year, there is a handful of candidates to make a similar rise as Williams:
Recent Mississippi State pledge Tabias Hinton is a prime candidate. He is a long defender that can play sideline-to-sideline and has an intriguing athletic profile. The arrow is pointing up in his trajectory as a prospect.
Joseph Head is a raw pass rusher that flashes a ton of potential off the edge. The Mississippi State pledge gave Texas A&M commit Colton Thomasson fits at a camp back in March. His development will be interesting to track as he adds more size to his frame.
Alabama commit Brayson Hubbard is arguably the most intriguing player in the state for the 2023 cycle. Playing quarterback on the prep level, Hubbard is an all-around athlete that was offered by Nick Saban to play safety and Mike Leach to play receiver. That speaks volumes.