Mississippi Scoreboard is going to highlight a Mississippian who plays football at Ole Miss, another at Mississippi State and another who is playing at an out-of-state SEC school each week.
By Robert Wilson
LIDEATRICK GRIFFIN SPARKS MSU FOR SECOND STRAIGHT GAME
Philadelphia alumnus and Mississippi State sophomore Lideatrick Griffin’s nickname is “Tulu.” The Bulldogs might change his name to “Sparky.”
For the second straight game, Griffin returned a kickoff to ignite the Bulldogs to a victory. Griffin returned the opening kickoff 100 yards – tying a school record – for a touchdown to start MSU’s 24-10 victory Saturday over North Carolina State in Starkville. Griffin returned a kickoff 70 yards in the fourth quarter to spark MSU to its biggest comeback in school history for a 35-34 victory over Louisiana Tech.
Griffin ranks second in Division I in the country with 48.8 yards per kickoff return, 244 yards on five returns. Griffin excelled last year in kickoff returns as well, averaging 37.3, 261 yards on seven returns. He didn’t have enough returns to quality for the national rankings last year, but his averaged would have put him in third place. Griffin’s 144 yards against Louisiana Tech was the most by a Bulldog since 2012.
The school record for highest average for the season is 32.8, set by Eric Moulds in 1994 with a minimum of 10 returns. No MSU player have ever returned more than one kickoff for a TD in a season and the career record is two.
“He’s decisive,” Leach said of Griffin. “I’ve always thought your best kick returner is the guy that can hit full speed really fast and is courageous enough to hit the slot that you’re trying to create with whatever blocking scheme you have. He’s all of that.”
Griffin has also caught five passes for 51 yards this season.
This isn’t the first time Griffin has made the headlines. He was named the Most Outstanding Player in the Armed Forces Bowl, leading MSU to a 28-26 victory over Tulsa. Griffin caught two passes for 17 yards, including a 13-yard TD in the fourth quarter and returned four kickoffs for 138 yards.
Griffin had seven kickoff returns for 261 yards last season, including a 65-yarder against Auburn. He has returned three of his 12 kickoffs for at least 65 yards in his career.
Griffin was a dynamic player for Philadelphia High, producing 4,979 yards and 44 touchdowns and returned four kickoffs for TDs during his high school career.
MSU plays at Memphis Saturday at 3 p.m. on ESPN2.
HARRISON CENTRAL HIGH ALUMNUS BRYCE RAMSEY MAKES FIRST START FOR OLE MISS:
Harrison Central High alumnus and redshirt sophomore Bryce Ramsey made his first collegiate start Saturday for Ole Miss at center, replacing senior Orlando Umana, who was injured.
The 6-foot-1, 330-pound Ramsey helped the Rebels produce 630 yards of total offense and defeat Austin Peay 54-17 at Oxford. Ole Miss jumped out to a 37-0 lead in the second quarter.
Ramsey played in 10 games last season, primarily on the field goal protection unit, getting to play as a backup left guard in a few games. He played on one game as a freshman and was redshirted in 2019.
Ramsey was ranked as the No. 8 center in the nation by Rivals coming out of high school. He played in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game and chose Ole Miss over Florida State and Memphis.
“Bryce was a four-year starter for us and played all five positions on the offensive line during his high school career,” Harrison Central coach Casey Cain said. “He eats and sleeps football. Bryce never missed a summer workout in four years with us unless he was at a camp. He is a very strong young man and squatted more than 800 pounds in powerlifting.”
As of Friday, no announcement has been made on the starting center for Saturday’s game with Tulane (7 p.m. on ESPN2) in Oxford.
NORTH PANOLA ALUMNUS K.J. JEFFERSON HELPS ARKANSAS TO UPSET OF TEXAS
North Panola alumnus and redshirt sophomore quarterback K.J. Jefferson passed for 138 yards and ran for 73 more to help Arkansas to one of the biggest upsets in college football Saturday, a surprising, 40-21 victory over then No. 15 Texas at Arkansas.
Jefferson was on the SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum Show Wednesday and talked about the team’s relationship with second-year coach Sam Pittman. Arkansas won only three games last year but is off to a 2-0 start this season.
“That relationship is awesome,” Jefferson said. “From Day 1 since he first came here, he always tells us that this is our team, and he tries to make it a player-led team as much as possible. He tries to stand in the back a little bit and let the players, leaders, captains try to orchestrate the team. When he gets a feel for him to step in, he’s going to try to step in and let us know like, ‘Hey, this is what we need to do, this is how we’ve got to execute this.’ From that point on, he backs out and the players just come along. The leaders, captains, all of us just bond together and come along, try to make sure it’s a player-led team, rather than us being robots or going through the motions each and every day.”
Jefferson wants to keep his team focused and making progress.
“It’s still a long way to go,” Jefferson said. “Just focus on one week at a time. The main thing is to not get too high, not get too low. Just being humble, keeping that level head, making sure everyone keeps a level head. Keep working, keep doing the things that got us here right now, and just getting back to the basics, knowing that everybody gonna try to — we’ve got a target on our backs now that we’re ranked. So, with that target on our backs, it makes us go even harder.”
Jefferson had made only two starts in his career before this season, starting as a freshman against No. 1 LSU in Baton Rouge and against Missouri in the final game last season when Feleipe Franks was injured.
Jefferson was rated as the fourth best dual-threat quarterback in the country by 247 Sports coming out of North Panola High. He won 40 games, passed for 9,582 yards, ran for 2,922 yards, and accounted for 143 touchdowns. He chose Arkansas over Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, and Baylor.
Jefferson and Arkansas play host to Georgia Southern Saturday at 3 p.m. on SEC Network.