ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Channing Ward waited to make his college decision until he was on stage with some of the nation's top players. The wait didn't provide a shocker of an ending, though, as the Aberdeen High School standout announced he will play football at the University of Mississippi in the fall.
NEW ORLEANS -- The points have been piling up so fast this postseason it's as if they're giving away touchdowns along with all those video games and watches the bowls hand out to players. 41-38. 45-38. 67-56. 70-33. Seemingly endless offense has left LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers wondering: "Where is the defense at? Does it exist?" It will in the BCS title game. When No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama meet at the Superdome on Monday, expect every yard to be earned and touchdowns to be at a premium -- again.
Brad Butler has been around football long enough to understand the importance of wins and losses. He just didn't think the hunger for wins that drives coaching carousels in college and in the NFL had become so pervasive that it had woven its way into high school athletics. But Butler learned Dec. 20 that his inability to lead the Heritage Academy football team to more victories cost him and offensive coordinator/junior high football coach Steve Morgan their jobs.
STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi State University men's basketball players understand they can improve on defense. The scouting report on No. 15 MSU (13-2) is simple: It can't guard the pick-and-roll offense at the top of the key. "Everybody in the country runs ball screens, and we have to get better guarding those," MSU assistant coach Phil Cunningham said Wednesday in the SEC coaches teleconference.
STARKVILLE -- It's time to get tougher. It's also time for the Mississippi State women's basketball team to slow down and to take better care of the basketball. MSU's ability to put all of those elements into action will be put to the test at 7 tonight when it plays host to LSU at Humphrey Coliseum in its Southeastern Conference opener.
Jarvis Gunter dreams of playing professional basketball. He just never thought the sport would allow him to see the world. But the former Columbus High School standout isn't complaining about his current job as a member of the CAB Madeira team in Portugal. In fact, he has grown quite fond of Europe and the different cuisine -- and the number of meals per day -- he has had the opportunity to sample.
NEW ORLEANS -- University of Alabama wide receiver Marquis Maze isn't about to concede anything to LSU, not even the kicking game. Sure, the top-ranked Tigers controlled field position with Brad Wing's punts when the teams met two months ago in what, back then, was called the game of the century. And those four field goals missed by the No. 2 Crimson Tide have left a stamp on the season.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State University junior defensive tackle Fletcher Cox announced Tuesday he will forego his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL draft. The 295-pound defensive lineman from Yazoo City had 56 tackles this season, including 14 1/2 tackles for a loss and five sacks. He said immediately after MSU's 23-17 victory against Wake Forest in the Music City Bowl that he had made his decision about turning professional, but that he was waiting to announce it properly.
STARKVILLE -- Johnthan Banks decided Tuesday not to declare for the NFL draft and to return to the Mississippi State University football program for his final year of eligibility. Banks, a former East Webster High School standout from Maben, was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given to the nation's top defensive back. He also was MSU's Conerly Trophy representative. That award is given to the state's top college football player.
STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi State University football program has made a scholarship offer to East Mississippi Community College quarterback Bo Wallace. Wallace, who would be able to sign as a member of the 2012 recruiting class and enroll early to compete in spring practices, led EMCC to a 55-47 El Toro Bowl victory against previously unbeaten Arizona Western College in the NJCAA Football Championship Game on Dec. 3 in Yuma, Ariz. He set NJCAA single-season records for passing yards (4,604), total yards of offense (4,810), and touchdowns (53) in a season.
Disappointing would be an understatement in describing the last time the Columbus High School girls basketball team took the floor. After a 41-point loss at Hattiesburg, Columbus got the feel-good feeling back, rolling past Noxubee County 73-27 Tuesday night at home. In the nightcap, the Columbus boys held for a 60-59 victory against Noxubee County.
Yandell Harris sees the potential. Now the Heritage Academy boys basketball coach wants to see the effort. If both of those things are present at the same time, the veteran coach believes the Patriots can come together and have a chance to make a postseason run. After receiving a pick-me-up halftime speech from Harris, Heritage Academy took its coach's encouragement to the court and pulled away for a 52-22 victory against Pickens Academy. In the girls game, Elisabeth Hankins had 17 points and Corey Dawkins added 16 to lead Pickens Academy to a 45-37 win.
OXFORD -- The tension was still showing on University of Mississippi men's basketball coach Andy Kennedy's face several minutes after his team squeezed past Southern Methodist with a 50-48 victory on Tuesday night. Simply put, it was ugly. Kennedy admits that might be a common theme this season.
ATLANTA -- JaMychal Green appears recovered from a right shoulder injury, and the University of Alabama men's basketball team got another big boost with the return of Andrew Steele for the first time this season. So with the Southeastern Conference schedule beginning in four days, the Crimson Tide look ready to roll.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State University junior wide receiver Chad Bumphis was arrested early Sunday morning in his hometown of Tupelo and charged with disorderly conduct and public drunkenness. The Lee County Sheriff's Department confirmed Sunday morning to The Dispatch that Bumphis' arrest occurred at 1:31 a.m. in the city proper of Tupelo, and that Bumphis was released nearly an hour later after being booked on the charges. Bumphis, 22, has one year of eligibility left at MSU. He is scheduled to appear Jan. 12 at the Lee County Courthouse.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State University football coach Dan Mullen always has judged the quarterback position by one category: Wins. In that regard, senior Chris Relf will leave MSU as one of the program's most successful quarterbacks, especially after he closed his career with another victory.
STARKVILLE -- A recent labor dispute between NBA players and owners forced the league to settle for a compressed schedule that requires some teams to play five games in one week. That kind of workload doesn't faze the East Oktibbeha County High School boys basketball team.
The pieces are in place. Rick Stansbury has repeated the thought that the 2011-12 Mississippi State University men's basketball team has greater versatility and depth than last season's team. On Saturday, MSU showcased another ingredient it will need to realize its potential: Resolve.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For a player not many Division I schools wanted after high school and a successful stint at junior college, Vick Ballard wrote an award-winning final chapter to his story Friday night. The Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College transfer used his final college game -- a 23-17 victory against Wake Forest in the Music City Bowl -- to show the country what many of the premier programs missed out on for ignoring his talents for so long
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