Deion Smith, rated as the best player in Mississippi and one of the top 10 wide receivers in the country, is now a Jackson Academy Raider.

The 6-foot-1, 172-pound Smith, who has verbally committed to defending national champion LSU, starts classes at JA today after transferring from Provine High this week, JA head football coach Lance Pogue told Mississippi Scoreboard Thursday night.

Smith wasn’t going to be able to play his senior year of football at Provine because Jackson Public Schools had decided to cancel fall sports. JPS is doing all virtual classes this fall.

“Deion’s parents called us to set up a visit and went through the admission process with our people,” Pogue said. “He has mutual friends with kids on our team. I feel for these kids all over the country who aren’t able to play, especially for those seniors. I’m glad Deion is getting an opportunity to play and we are excited to have him and his brother (Dan is a sophomore wide receiver). I’ve heard nothing but great things about both of these kids. LSU is very high on Deion and I’m sure Deion and Dan will be great teammates.” Deion Smith is rated No. 1 in Mississippi and No. 57 overall recruit in the nation and the No. 7 wide receiver in the country by 247 Sports. Smith, who made the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard All-Metro Jackson first team this past season, caught 43 passes for 1,059 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. Smith is one of the leading candidates to win the Metro Jackson Player of the Year this fall.

Smith is one of two Mississippians (Southaven High wide receiver Isaiah Brevard is the other) invited to play in the Under Armour All-American Game in January.

Coaching the top player in Mississippi is nothing new for Pogue. Pogue has numerous Mississippi Players of the Year, All-Americans and All-State players during his 10 years at South Panola where he won a national championship and five state titles. This is Pogue’s first year as JA’s head coach after three years as defensive coordinator.

Smith is the second Division I recruit who has transferred to JA this summer. Senior wide receiver Lardarius Webb Jr., son of former Super Bowl champion and nine-year Baltimore Raven defensive back Lardarius Webb Sr., transferred from Opelika, Ala., to the Metro Jackson area to live with his father his senior season. Webb is a Nebraska commit and ranked No. 25 in Mississippi by 247 Sports. Pogue hopes to bring a state championship back to JA, something the Raiders haven’t had since a three-peat from 2009-11.

JA junior running back Marcus Harris, a 5-9, 230-pound second team selection on the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard All-Metro Jackson team last season, is one of the top returning players in the MAIS. Harris gained 1,552 yards and scored 19 TD last season.

JA has five offensive and four defensive returning starters, including 6-6, 205-pound senior quarterback Jackson Conn who missed all of last season with an injury. The Raiders want to improve on their 7-5 record from last season and also want to compete with defending Class 6A state champion Madison-Ridgeland Academy and 6A state runner-up Jackson Prep, who had its nine-year state championship streak broken by MRA last season. JA hasn’t beaten Prep since 2013 and hasn’t beaten MRA since 2017. MRA won 48-7 a year ago and JA lost to Prep twice, the last time 28-14 in the playoffs. Having Smith should improve JA’s chances of breaking those streaks.

Conn ran for two TDs and passed for another to spark JA to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter in last week’s 49-14 win over Pillow. Harris also ran for two TDs.

JA plays tonight at Leake. Smith will not dress out tonight, but is expected to be dressed out for next week’s game with MRA at JA.