By Robert Wilson
BRANDON ALUM ROGERS MAKES MSU QB DEBUT
Will Rogers, the 2019 Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Football Player of the Year, made his collegiate debut last week for Mississippi State.
Rogers, a true freshman from Brandon High, replaced starter K.J. Costello midway through the third quarter in the Bulldogs’ 24-2 loss at Kentucky after Costello had thrown three interceptions. Rogers completed his first four passes and 8 of his first 10 passes before Costello came back in. Rogers was intercepted when a Kentucky defensive back took the ball away from a MSU receiver at the goal line. Rogers also was intercepted on the final play of the game. He completed 9 of 15 passes for 43 yards.
First-year MSU coach Mike Leach recruited Rogers when he was at Washington State. Rogers moved his way up to backup to Costello during the fall practices and finally got his opportunity against Kentucky in the third game of the year.
Costello, a graduate transfer from Stanford who set an SEC record with 623 passing yards against LSU in the season opener, leads the country in passing yards per game and interceptions.
When asked who would start at quarterback this week against Texas A&M in Starkville (3 p.m., SEC Network), Leach said, “K.J. and Will will battle it out this week, so we will see.”
“I thought (Rogers did) pretty good. It was a brutally tough situation,” Said Leach about putting in Rogers against Kentucky. “Under the circumstances, it was a start.”
Brandon coach Tyler Peterson wasn’t surprised that Rogers did well.
“I’m proud of Will and excited for him,” Brandon coach Tyler Peterson said. “He did a good job while he was in there. The moment wasn’t too big for him. He has some many great qualities: he’s unbelievably accurate, he is one of the hardest workers on the team, he’s a fierce competitor and he’s a great leader. Will is just like (Brandon High alumnus and Jacksonville Jaguar starting quarterback) Gardner Minshew, both have the it factor. Both fit Leach’s offense to a T. Will is just a freshmen, but the guys in the locker room already trust him and believe in him.”
Rogers completed 247 of 371 passes (66.7 percent) for 3,609 yards and 38touchdowns with only three interceptions and led Brandon to a 9-5 record and to the second round of the Class 6A playoffs. He passed for 9,094 yards and 79 touchdowns in his career.
OLE MISS RB EALY RUSHES FOR CAREER HIGH VS ALABAMA
Jackson Prep alumnus and Ole Miss sophomore running back Jerrion Ealy ran for a career-high 120 yards on 19 carries and scored two touchdowns in Ole Miss’ 63-48 loss to No. 2 ranked Alabama Saturday in Oxford.
Ealy had an outstanding freshman year, leading the SEC in kickoff return average, second in the SEC and fifth among freshman in the country in all-purpose yards. He named Freshman All-American.
Ealy has gained 243 yards on 45 carries and four TDs and caught five passes for 67 yards in first-year Ole Miss Lane Kiffin’s offense. He had 722 rushing yards and six TDs and 172 receiving yards and one TD last season.
Prep coach Ricky Black believes Ealy will excel at Ole Miss and tells this story on Ealy’s ability to catch the ball.
“We were watching the film of the state championship game (in 2018 when Prep defeated MRA in Ealy’s senior season) and Jerrion dropped a pass because his shield was fogged up,” Black said. “The players couldn’t believe it because he had never dropped a pass during his career. So we had to run it back several times for them to see it. Jerrionhas great hands and will do well as a running back, a receiver and a kick returner.”
Ealy was the co-MVP of the 2019 Under Armour All-American game after rushing for 116 yards and two TDs. He was rated No. 19 top recruit in the country by ESPN. Ealyran for 1,526 yards and 24 TDs as a senior and helped Prep to four state titles. He had more than 5,000 yards and 84 TDs in his high school career.
Ealy and his teammates play at Arkansas Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
GEORGIA QB BENNETT PLAYED AT JONES JC
Many college football fans know that Stetson Bennett IV is the starting quarterback for No. 3 Georgia. But many may not know that Bennett has Mississippi ties.
Bennett transferred from Georgia after his freshman season to Jones County Junior College and played for coach Steve Buckley. Bennett passed for 1,840 yards and 16 TDs and led JCJC to a 10-2 record and then he transferred back to Georgia.
He became the starter this fall and has led the Bulldogs to wins over Arkansas, Auburn and Tennessee. Georgia plays host to No. 2 Alabama in the biggest college football of this season (2:30 p.m., CBS).
ESPN’s College Gameday came to JCJC in Ellisville earlier this week to interview Buckley about Bennett and will air a special on Bennett Saturday. Having great players is nothing for Buckley, who has coached back-to-back NFL first round draft choices. MSU defensive back Jonathan Abrams played at JCJC and was a first round pick by the Oakland Raiders two years ago. South Carolina defensive tackle Javin Kinlaw played at JCJC and was a first round pick by the San Francisco 49ers.
Bennett played four games in a backup role to Jake Fromm last season and came off the bench in the season opener this year against Arkansas and earned the starting position. He threw for 211 yards and two TDs in a 37-10 win. Bennett threw for 240 yards and one TD in a 27-6 victory over then-No. 7 Auburn, then 238 yards and three TDs in a 44-21 win over then-No. 14 Tennessee last week. He is completing 63.1 percent of his passes with five TDs and no interceptions. His efficiency rating is third in the nation behind Ole Miss’ Matt Corral and Alabama’s Mac Jones.
Bennett led Pierce County (Ga.) High to three straight playoff appearances and threw for 3,724 yards, ran for 500 and accounted for 40 TDs as a senior. His only Division I offer was Middle Tennessee State, probably because of his size (5-11, 185 pounds). So he walked on at Georgia. After a year, he decided to transfer to JCJC.