February 4, 2010 8:56:00 AM
MACON -- Vincent Sanders is set to join a fellow Noxubee County High School playmaker in Oxford, while seven of his teammates are headed to junior college power East Mississippi Community College.
It was a good day on National Signing Day in Macon, as the University of Mississippi snagged a highly touted Tigers receiver for the second consecutive season.
Buddy Stephens'' Scooba juggernaut added more of coach M.C. Miller''s talent to the 10 Tigers he signed last season.
The headline of the day, though, was Sanders, who announced his decision live earlier in the day on WCBI before returning to Noxubee County High for the team''s celebration.
The receiver/safety was a cog in the Tigers'' 2008 state championship squad with current Ole Miss receiver Patrick Patterson.
Many could think Patterson aided Sanders in the decision-making process, but Sanders said Patterson didn''t affect his choice.
"Me and Pat through this whole recruiting process didn''t talk about me coming up there to play," Sanders said. "Even when I went on my visit, we didn''t talk about that. Everybody might say, ''He went there because of Pat,'' but that wasn''t a part of it."
There was plenty else that factored into the 6-foot-2, 180-pounder''s choice.
The Rebels had been in touch since his freshman season and extended his first offer. Oxford held special meaning, too, as he saw his first major college football game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
"Once you go somewhere for the first time and you have that feeling inside, you know it''s going to be you''re home," Sanders said.
Sanders wanted to move farther than the 40-minute shoot to Starkville, where Dan Mullen''s Mississippi State University Bulldogs were in the final mix for his signature.
Then there''s his future in criminal justice and the forensics labs he hopes to work in one day. Ole Miss had just what he was looking for.
"They give you the opportunity to do hands-on things like going in the lab and trying to figure the stuff out," Sanders said. "At Mississippi State, the criminal justice professor told me they don''t quite have a class where I can go in a lab and do hands-on stuff. I didn''t want to be in position where I just go to class every day and write down notes.
"That was a big factor."
Despite missing five games with a fractured jaw, Sanders totaled 2,100 all-purpose yards and a couple of interceptions on defense. He said his future lies at the Z receiver spot for the Rebels, who''ll enter 2010 fresh off a second straight Cotton Bowl win.
Miller said he''s excited that Sanders and Patterson have an opportunity to share the same field, and he believes the former can see the field soon.
"Vincent has great talent, so he''s just going to have to get up in there and work," Miller said. "He''s got the attitude and the heart to go. As long as you have somebody that will work hard, you''ve got something to work with. Plus, with the competition there the harder he''ll work."
Miller had plenty of opportunity to stand in a crowded conference room in Noxubee County High and beam about plenty of other players. Like last year, a significant part of his team will be going to EMCC to help the Lions continue their meteoric rise to national prominence.
Offensive linemen Gussie Lane, Antonio Wells, and Felix Edward, defensive backs Fredeas Tate and Jon''Tae Skinner and athlete Patreon Hopkins signed Wednesday to play for the Lions. Defensive tackle Nelson Bolden wasn''t present Wednesday but has signed with EMCC to give the Tigers 17 players to sign with Scooba in two years.
"When they played in the bowl (Mississippi Bowl) game last year, we felt good because we had a lot of players down there," Miller said. "We just feel good about sending more players down there because it always feels good to see your kids do well."
Miller lauded the potential of Hopkins, who played a number of positions last season.
"Another versatile guy who can play on both sides of the ball," Miller said. "He can play wing-back, running back, and cornerback. We''re looking for him to play a bunch of positions."
Lane figures to offer immediate help on the Lions'' offensive line, Miller said.
"He does a good job blocking and should make a good weak-side tackle because he''s got good, quick feet," Miller said. "He''s strong and will give you everything he''s got."
One player who didn''t sign Wednesday was bruising fullback Earnest Harmon, who opted to delay his decision.
Harmon visited Ole Miss last week but didn''t receive an offer.
Miller anticipates Harmon will make a decision in the next two or three days.