Brandon Bell and Blake Sharp did nearly everything on the football field in their high school careers. The next challenge for the Heritage Academy standouts will be to earn playing time on one of the nation's best teams. Bell and Sharp took the first step in that journey Wednesday morning when they signed scholarships to play football for the national champion East Mississippi Community College football team.
WEST POINT -- Carson Miller and Brandon Edwards have dreams of playing on a team in the Football Bowl Subdivision. After nearly getting offers to play at that level, the West Point High School standouts are more than ready to make a name for themselves in the fertile Mississippi junior college ranks. Miller, a lineman, signed with Pearl River Community College Wednesday, while Edwards signed with reigning Mississippi Junior College Athletic Association champion and national champion East Mississippi C.C.
MACON -- Tyrone Shorter couldn't help but think back Wednesday about how far some of his players have come. National Signing Day typically is a time for coaches, parents, and players to reflect on an athletic journey that includes plenty of ups and downs and lessons learned. Six Noxubee County High School football players shared those memories with Shorter, members of the team's coaching staff, and family members Wednesday as they announced their plans to play the sport in college.
The message remains the same for Sharon Fanning-Otis: Her Mississippi State University women's basketball team needs to get tougher. As MSU (13-8, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) enters the month of February, it is running out of time if it wants to realize its goal to return to the NCAA tournament. At this time last season, MSU started to round into shape and played its best basketball of the campaign, going 5-5 in the final two months.
STARKVILLE -- While the Starkville High School boys soccer team has some unfinished business for the 2011-12 season, two Yellow Jackets nailed down their future plans Wednesday afternoon. Goalkeeper Addison Watson and defender Austin Wileman each signed scholarships to play soccer on the next level. Watson signed with Missouri State University, a Division I school that is a member of the Missouri Valley Conference, while Wileman signed with Itawamba Community College.
New Hope High School girls soccer coach Mary Nagy always knew Sarah Hern would be ready to answer the call when she needed leadership. "Sarah was always our leader," Nagy said. "The players voted her as a captain in 10th grade. The leadership continued from there. The other players looked up to her. Her maturity was great both on and off the field. She is leaving behind a legacy, and has done a great job of preparing the next group of leaders."
OXFORD -- Hugh Freeze basically had a three-week period to patch together his first recruiting class. All things considered, the new University of Mississippi football coach is pleased with the results. "I'm never going to sit up and tell you every kid is great, because that's proven in time," Freeze said. "But we do believe it's very good."
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The national champion University of Alabama football team restocked the nation's top defense, scooped up a few highly recruited offensive playmakers and generally had what's becoming a typical signing day for Nick Saban & Co. In other words, replacing departed stars with blue-chippers across the board on a program that has won two of the last three national championships.
CALEDONIA -- On the biggest day of his athletic career thus far, Caledonia High School's Cole Carter shared a lot of laughs and hugged a lot of people.
Dan Mullen has heard the negative recruiting pitches against his football program. Wednesday was the Mississippi State University football coach's turn to respond.
STARKVILLE -- Across the country, hundreds of athletes will sign National Letters of Intent today in front of crowds that can't await to watch them play big-time college football. These 17- or 18-year-old student-athletes will be celebrated simply because they will sign a piece of paper.
STARKVILLE -- "One more win." As the wild postgame celebration ensued and Starkville High School boys soccer coach Brian Bennett received a Gatorade bath, he reminded his Yellow Jackets they had one more victory to get. Starkville moved one step of capturing the school's first state title in soccer after defeating Hernando 3-1 Tuesday in the Class 5A North State Class championship before a boisterous crowd at Yellow Jacket Stadium.
Consider Tuesday night a dress rehearsal. The performances that count will come Tuesday night. The New Hope High School basketball teams took positive steps toward third meetings against West Point with two victories in the Class 5A, Region 2, District 1 regular-season finale in Columbus.
STARKVILLE -- There is good news for the soccer fan who hasn't seen the Starkville Academy boys soccer team play: The Volunteers will close the regular season with six matches in eight days. The marathon sprint opened Tuesday afternoon with a 1-0 win against archrival Heritage Academy at the Starkville Sportsplex.
Senior Night was sweet for the Columbus High School basketball teams as they earned two victories Tuesday night. The girls dominated West Oktibbeha County High 71-18, while the boys edged the Timberwolves 49-43.
STARKVILLE -- Senior Night at Starkville High School on Tuesday night stirred a lot of emotions boys basketball coach Greg Carter knew his team would need to overcome. After a slow start, Starkville did just that in a 76-44 victory against Neshoba Central.
STARKVILLE -- Only one gift Tuesday night seemed appropriate for Starkville Academy girls basketball Glenn Schmidt to give her five seniors: a hug. After a round of a applause from the capacity crowd at Starkville Academy's gym, each of the seniors on the team taken out of the team's 67-32 victory against Heritage Academy.
STARKVILLE -- Danny Carlisle still feels the excitement as he prepares to kick off his 29th season as a high school baseball coach. "You always look forward to opening day," said Carlisle, who will lead the Starkville High School baseball team in practice today on the official start of the Mississippi High School Activities Association season. "The excitement is as great for this year and it was for my first year. The excitement is there. The enthusiasm is there. Whether it's the first practice or, later on, the first game, there is an anticipation for opening day like no other sport."
The Columbus United Soccer Club continues to grow and to help its players make inroads into the highest levels of soccer in the state of Mississippi. Ten Columbus United players recently validated that statement when they received invitations to the state's Olympic Development Training pool.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State University's football coaching staff is using its 2012 recruiting class to define a philosophy.
1. Caledonia powerlifting team wins another region title HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Fourth-ranked Borges helps resurgence of MSU tennis COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Blaylock makes strong impression in MSU baseball debut COLLEGE SPORTS
4. No. 2 Bulldogs play for share of SEC title tonight COLLEGE SPORTS