Former Columbus High School and East Mississippi Community College standout LaQuinston Sharp, shown above playing on the offensive line for the Lions, started classes earlier this week at Mississippi State to get a jump start on his football career as a Bulldog. Photo by: East Mississippi Community College Athletic Media Relations
January 10, 2019 10:00:56 AM
LaQuinston Sharp's growth happened overnight.
It was so pronounced that Jamie Sharp recalls walking down the hallway to his home and peaking into LaQuinston's bedroom and seeing his son's feet sticking off the end of the bed.
"He hit that growth spurt two years ago," Jamie Sharp said earlier this week. "He just grew all of a sudden. ... It is exciting to see your son in the house with you grow all of a sudden."
Dating back to 2009 and his time with the Columbus baseball All-Stars in Propst Park, LaQuinston Sharp always was one of the bigger boys. He also carried a "bigger" bat than his peers, as evidenced by his ability to hit home runs on the 10-year-old Columbus Nationals team and the 11- and 12-year-old Columbus Americans squad.
But Sharp's latest growth spurt came while he was a football standout at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba. It enabled him to be a key performer on the offensive line for the Lions in their national championship runs in 2017 and 2018. At 6-foot-3, 310 pounds, the former Columbus High School standout took the next step in his college career earlier this week when he started classes at MSU. As one of five football players who enrolled early, Sharp will get a jump start on life as a Bulldog.
"LaQuinston is a thick mauler that can anchor," MSU offensive line coach Marcus Johnson said. "He has the type of upside that is going to help us."
For Jamie Sharp and his family, the move from Scooba to Starkville means fewer miles to travel -- at least for half of the season -- and more miles to log on what already has been a packed schedule through the years.
"We have been through three cars and we're working on the fourth," said Jamie, who coached LaQuinston in baseball and football since his son was 7 years old. "How many miles have we put on our cars? Whooo ... There have been so many miles. We have been all over the Golden Triangle. ... We didn't miss a game. It has to be about 200,00 miles, maybe more."
Sharp attended Columbus Christian Academy early in his high school career before transferring back to Columbus High, where he completed his football career under coach Randal Montgomery.
Lee Davis coached Sharp at Columbus Middle School and at Columbus High. He said he first recalled seeing Sharp walking in the hallways when he was in the sixth or seventh grade. Davis said he quickly learned Sharp loved baseball and that he was athletic in multiple sports.
"He was just a hard worker who did what was asked and was a good teammate. He checked all of the boxes," Davis said. "To be that big and that agile, we could tell he was going to be a good player."
Davis said he was blessed to coach so many talented players, including current MSU running back Kylin Hill, as well as go against many others (former Noxubee County standout Jeffery Simmons and former Starkville High School standouts Willie Gay Jr. and Kobe Jones, just to name three). He said he couldn't be happier for LaQuinston to get a chance to continue his football career at MSU. He praised the Sharp family for their support of their son through the years, and hopes Sharp can earn playing time by showing the same qualities that made him a "terror" on the defensive line when he was in middle school.
"He never missed practice. He was a yes-sir, no-sir type," Davis said. "He did his work in school. He is somebody I remember with a lot of good memories."
Jamie Sharp said he and his family have similar memories. He said they have been keeping their fingers crossed that LaQuinston would stay healthy -- he missed most of the 2018 season due to injury, seeing action in just four games -- and encouraging him to put God first and to aim high in everything he does. On Monday, LaQuinston Sharp hit the mark for the first of many times as a Bulldog.
"We are happy parents and very excited our son achieved his dream," Jamie Sharp said. "Some people don't get that chance. He is very fortunate to have his parents' support. We are right along with him as he grows older. We are behind him 110 percent. No matter where he went we were going to be there"
Sharp is part of a group of early enrollees that includes offensive lineman Charles Cross (Laurel High), defensive end Ani Izuchukwu (Hendersonville, Tennessee / Davidson Academy), safety Fred Peters (Columbia / Jones College), and quarterback Garrett Shrader (Charlotte, North Carolina / Charlotte Christian School).
Cross, the state of Mississippi's top offensive line prospect for the 2019 signing class, played in the All-American Bowl on Saturday in San Antonio, Texas.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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