Jackson Academy has a new head football coach, Lance Pogue, who has coached a national high school championship team. Now, JA has a player whose father won a Super Bowl.
Lardarius Webb Jr., son of former Super Bowl champion and nine-year NFL veteran Lardarius Webb Sr., has transferred from Opelika, Ala., to JA and gives the Raiders not one of the top players in the MAIS, but also in Mississippi.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Webb Jr., who has verbally committed to Nebraska, is ranked No. 25 in the class of 2021 in Mississippi by 24/7 Sports. Only Hartfield Academy senior wide receiver-defensive back Brandon Burkhalter, a Mississippi State commit, is ranked higher among MAIS players.
Webb Jr. was star for Beauregard High in Opelika with 51 tackles and three interceptions as a junior, but he decided to transfer to JA and live with his father.
“I moved to Jackson so I could be with my dad. He played in the NFL for nine years and I want to go to the NFL so why not let him teach me how to get there and prepare me every day,” Webb Jr. said. “I chose JA because their education program is great and in order to make it to the next level I have to make the grades. I wanted to play for Coach Pogue because he is one of the most successful coaches in Mississippi.”
Webb Sr., who also played at Beuregard High, played college at Southern Miss before transferring to Nicholls State where he became an Associated Press first team All-American defensive back. Webb Sr. was a third round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Webb Sr. is the only Raven player to return a touchdown, kickoff and punt for a touchdown. He was known as one of the top defensive backs in the league. He was a second team All Pro in 2011 after he was the only starting defensive back in the NFL not to allow a touchdown.
Webb Sr., and his wife, Toya, moved to the Jackson area after he retired from the NFL after the 2017 season. He owns Zone 21 Speed Center, a facility in Richland that works on speed but is also a mentoring program to help encourage kids and work on their social and academic skills.
“I met my wife at USM in 2004 and she’s from the area (a Murrah graduate) and we decided to raise our kids in this area,” Webb Sr. said. “Lardarius met friends from Jackson Academy and wanted to check it out. I liked the school and knew it would be a good fit. I’ve seen Coach Pogue’s resume and met him a few times. I know he will get the job done at JA.”
Webb Jr. joins Pogue, who won a national championship at South Panola in 2010. He also won five state titles, a national championship and an amazing record of 126-17, an 88.1 winning percentage, in 10 seasons at South Panola. Pogue plans on big things for Webb Jr.
“He will play corner and wide receiver and be involved in kick returns,” said Pogue, who was promoted to head coach last December after three years as defensive coordinator at JA. “He’s got really good ball skills and it’s noticeable that he’s been around his dad and picked up a lot about playing the corner position. He’s got outstanding speed and can be a playmaker offensively.
“His speed and change of direction along with his ball skills certainly reminds me of the ability level of the skill guys we had at South Panola. I’m anxious to see him play very soon.”
That is high praise for Webb Jr. to be mentioned along the best skill players at South Panola because Pogue had many Mississippi Players of the Year, All-State players and Division I signees at South Panola.
Webb Jr. verbally committed to Nebraska earlier this month and was the first defensive back to commit to the Cornhuskers. Nebraska defensive back coach Travis Fisher played with Webb Sr. with the Ravens.
“I feel great about my decision and my mom and dad support my decision,” Webb Jr said. “The reason why I committed was because I felt like Nebraska cared about me, not just on the football field, but in the classroom also. They kept calling me and checking on me and that played a big role in my decision.”
JA has had many sign with Ole Miss and Mississippi State, but Webb Jr. would be the first JA football player to sign with a Power Five conference school outside of the state over past three decades.
Webb Jr. isn’t the only JA player who is a college prospect. JA junior running back Marcus Harris, a 5-9, 230-pound second team selection on the Priority One Bank/Mississippi All-Metro Jackson team last season. Harris, one of the top returning players in the MAIS, gained 1,552 yards and scored 19 touchdowns last season.
Webb, along with five offensive and four defensive returning starters, hope to improve on JA’s 7-5 record a year ago. The Raiders would like 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 last won a state title in 2011, the last of three straight. 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.
JA opens the season with Pillow Academy at home on Aug. 21. The Raiders play host to MRA in their third game on Sept. 4.