February 4, 2010 8:58:00 AM
WEST POINT -- Dressed in maroon sweatshirts, West Point High School seniors Michael Carr and Curtis Virges honored their verbal commitments and signed scholarships Wednesday to play football at Mississippi State.
Carr, a wide receiver, and Virges, a defensive tackle, were glad signing day finally arrived so they could end the recruiting process.
"It''s a relief," Carr said. "It''s taken a lot of weight off of me to know what college I''m going to. I''m proud to be a Bulldog. Go Bulldogs!"
Said Virges, "I was really excited. I was anxious to sign, I really was."
Carr and Virges were two of six West Point seniors to sign scholarships. Defensive back Jeremy Cannon, running back Xavier Hogan, and linebacker Matthew Lewis signed with East Mississippi Community College, and offensive tackle Desmond Boyd signed with Hinds C.C.
The seniors were instrumental in leading the Green Wave to a 14-1 record and the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A state championship.
"We usually have quite a few (signees) every year, but this is a special year because we won a state championship and that magnified it a little more," West Point coach Chris Chambless said. "All of these guys work hard, and it will carry over to their college careers. They''ve got great work ethics and great leadership skills."
Chambless hates to lose Carr and Virges, but he is proud of them for signing with the Bulldogs.
"It puts a lot of pressure on you for next year," Chambless said. "That''s the way I look at it. No, it''s good. (Mississippi State) Coach (Dan) Mullen came over here and saw something in those guys. Hopefully he''ll see something in our future guys."
Carr (5-foot-11 1/2, 185 pounds) had 38 catches for 833 yards and eight touchdowns and rushed 33 times for 181 yards and four touchdowns this season.
He is excited about being part of the spread offense Mullen, the former assistant coach at the University of Florida, brought to MSU.
"At first, I had a little debate about going to State," Carr said. "(Former MSU) Coach (Sylvester) Croom had a good game going, but it wasn''t an open offense. Now they have an open offense and there are going to be a lot of opportunities to get the ball in my hands. I think I can get to the NFL under Dan Mullen. I think he can lead us to a national championship."
Virges (6-3, 270) was a force on defense this season, registering 55 solo tackles, 25 assists, 14 sacks, four fumble recoveries, and two forced fumbles. He said he likes MSU''s style of play on defense.
Virges also considered other schools before signing with MSU.
"At first I didn''t want to go because it''s so close to home and then I thought about it and it was like, ''Yeah that''s where I want to go,'' " Virges said. "My mom can come and see me play so I was like, ''Yeah.'' "
Cannon hopes to sign with Ole Miss. He said he signed with EMCC "so I can have something to fall back on" in case he doesn''t get a scholarship offer from the Rebels.
Cannon said he wants to study physical therapy and that he would like to go to Ole Miss because it''s a good school for that major.
"It''s not all about football," Cannon said. "I want to go to a school that has a good program for what I want to study in school. It''s about the environment and getting out and getting a job."
Cannon had 43 solo tackles, 20 assists, a sack, and an interception this season.
Hogan is excited Cannon and Lewis will accompany him to EMCC.
"It feels good to have some of my buddies on the same squad with me," Hogan said. "It''s always good to have guys around you that you''re used to."
Hogan looks forward to being part of EMCC''s spread offense, but it will be an adjustment after playing in an I-formation at West Point High.
"I''ll get used to it," said Hogan, who had 105 carries for 688 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. He also caught six passes for 42 yards and a touchdown.
Lewis looks forward to joining Cannon and Hogan at EMCC.
"It''s good because I know I''m not going to be down there by myself," Lewis said.
Lewis was a defensive leader with 98 tackles (71 solos, 27 assists), one sack, and two interceptions.
Boyd hopes to help Hinds C.C., which was 3-6 this season, reverse its fortunes.
"I want to make a good contribution," Boyd said. "I see they didn''t do too good last year. I want to win. I want to go down there and help them turn it around.
"As far as I know, they were 1-5 in the district. That doesn''t really matter to me. I love being the underdog. I''m going to go down there to help them and get team on the track."
1. Southern Mississippi beats MSU in Pearl COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Mississippi players help MSU grow softball in state COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Tight ends could play bigger role for Mullen's Bulldogs COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Energized Bulldogs push on to Sweet 16 LOCAL COLUMNS
5. New Hope loses to Oxford in region opener HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS