February 5, 2009
ALICEVILLE, Ala. -- When Donald Prince suffered a season-ending injury, he didn''t know what the future would hold for him on a football field.
The running back from Aliceville High School in Aliceville, Ala., wondered if he would get a scholarship after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee during the first quarter of the fourth game of the season.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Prince is still rehabilitating his knee after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery, but it didn''t keep him from signing a scholarship Wednesday signed a scholarship with Jacksonville State of the Ohio Valley Conference on the first day of the national signing period.
"I feel like they really believe in me," Prince said. "I appreciate them for the chance they took on me. They didn''t really have to do it, so I really appreciate them."
Also in Pickens County in West Alabama, wide receiver Mardrecas Hood, of Pickens County High School in Reform, Ala., signed with Mississippi State, and Izauea Lanier, of Gordo, Ala., signed with Auburn.
At Sulligent High in Sulligent, Ala., quarterback Caleb Massey and athlete Dominique Bonman signed letters of intent to play football at Troy University.
Prince said his knee is only about 45 percent and that the healing process will take nine months, but he believes he''ll be able to practice when Jacksonville State begins two-a-days.
Prince had been recruited by Alabama and had hoped to sign with the Crimson Tide before being he was injured.
"(Alabama assistant head coach Joe Pendry) told me if I wanted to go to a JUCO for two years and then go to Alabama, I could do that," Prince said. "I just decided to go to Jacksonville State for the full four-year process."
Aliceville coach James Rush believes Alabama would have signed Prince if he hadn''t torn his ACL.
"I felt like he was a D-I player," Rush said. "He had reconstructive surgery and quite naturally I could see why some schools backed off of him. I''m just glad Jacksonville State decided to take a chance on him."
Rush said speed is Prince''s biggest asset when he''s healthy.
Prior to getting hurt, Prince rushed for 203 yards against American Christian, 171 yards against Greene County, and 198 yards against Sumiton Christian.
Prince said it was disappointing to get hurt and not to be able to sign with Alabama, but he''s looking forward to moving forward at Jacksonville State.
"It was really kind of heartbreaking, but I just had to stay strong and work on getting better," Prince said. "I''m just staying strong and keeping my head straight.
"They have a good football program (at Jacksonville State). I know they won a couple of OVC championships in 2003 and 2004. When I get there we''re going to work on winning a couple of more."
Hood is looking forward to being part of Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen''s first recruiting class.
Mullen was hired to replace Sylvester Croom on Dec. 11, 2008. His plan is to install the spread offense he used at Florida, where he was the offensive coordinator.
"They run an offense I like," Hood said. "That gives me an opportunity to go there and try to start.
"People can''t lock in on just one wide receiver (in the spread offense). You don''t have just two wide receivers out there, you have four or five out there at the same time."
Pickens County coach Patrick Plott believes the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Hood is suited for the spread offense because "his size, his speed, his ability to catch the ball. He''s determined."
Plott said Hood has worked hard in the classroom to be eligible to play at Mississippi State.
"It''s working out good," Plott said. "I think he''s going to get it done. It''s just up to him right now to continue to work hard and make As and Bs."
Hood led Pickens County to the third round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 2A state playoffs and an 11-2 record this past season. He caught 39 passes for 1,057 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also scored two touchdowns on punt returns and one on a kickoff return.