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For a state with a population of just more than 2 million, the state of Mississippi cranks out an astounding number of elite football players. Archie Manning, Jerry Rice, Brett Favre, L.C. Greenwood, Deuce McAllister and Steve McNair are just a few of the more recognizable Mississippians to make a name for themselves excelling at the sport at its highest level.
With that, the Class of 2008 Rivals.com Mississippi Top 20 likely features at least a couple of future gridiron stars.
The top prospect on the list, Ocean Springs wide receiver DeAndre Brown, certainly has the physical ability to reach football's highest level. The 6-foot-6, 220-pounder has been timed as fast as 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash and has excellent quickness and hands. Brown, who is leaning toward playing college football out-of-state (LSU and Florida are the current teams to beat with Alabama and Auburn behind them), first gained notoriety at the 2006 Rivals.com Junior Day on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.
Brown, who is the consensus top prospect in the Magnolia State, is one of two current Rivals100 prospects in Mississippi this year. The second is Clarksdale cornerback prospect Charles Mitchell. Mitchell, who plays both ways for his high school team, is one of the top players Clarksdale head coach Jim Hughes has ever coached. Ole Miss and Mississippi State are the two teams to beat for Mitchell's services.
Defensive tackle Templeton Hardy of Sardis North Panola has a slew of scholarship offers. Both in-state schools, along with Southern California, Alabama, Auburn, Oklahoma and Tennessee, among others, have offered the 6-foot-4, 295-pounder. Hardy is quick, strong and makes big plays. He remains open among all of the schools he is considering.
Darius Barksdale has been one of state power South Panola's best players during the past three seasons. He's a versatile prospect, who could play running back, wide receiver, safety or cornerback in college. The All-State selection has the size and speed to do anything he wants. As is typically the case with most South Panola prospects, Ole Miss is the team to beat here.
At 6-6, 285, Franklin County defensive tackle Bo Tillman is a massive defensive tackle prospect that moves well. Ole Miss and Mississippi State both have offered and the Rebels are believed to be the team to beat at this point.
Rounding out the top 10 are Terry safety Rashun Dixon, Tupelo running back Kenneth Davis, Kosciusko athlete Kendrick Presley, Kosciusko center John Paul Alford and Canton defensive tackle Josh Jackson.