Photo by Chris Todd

By Robert Wilson

Former national high school football championship coach Lance Pogue is looking to take the next step after his first year as Jackson Academy’s head football coach after losing to Madison-Ridgeland Academy in the MAIS Class 5A state championship game. He added another talented player this week to possibly get him a championship this week.

Senior quarterback Tate Collins, who started at quarterback at MHSAA Class 6A Madison Central for the first four games last season, transferred to JA this week, Pogue told Mississippi Scoreboard Tuesday night.

“Tate and his family reached out to JA and enrolled Monday morning and he practiced Monday afternoon,” Pogue said. “Tate was looking to do something different for his senior year. He had interest from a lot of different places. Tate is a great kid, an excellent student and can play a number of positions. He wants to play quarterback, so we are going to give him a shot at that as well as playing on defense. (Junior) Clayton White is our only other quarterback and he’s expressed interest in playing other positions as well. You can’t have enough quarterbacks. Tate is very physical, has great ball skills and would make a great safety. Tate went to (Madison) St. Joe through the eighth grade and knows a lot of the kids here at JA.”

“JA was the best fit for me, and I feel like we have a great opportunity to go and win a state championship,” Collins said. In Collins’ first start as a Jaguar, he scored two touchdowns as he guided Madison Central to 28 second-half points in a 31-20 victory over Northwest Rankin in the 2020 season opener. Northwest Rankin won seven straight games after that and finished 9-4 and reached the 6A state quarterfinals. Madison Central, ranked in the Top 10 in Mississippi to start the season, and finished 7-4 and lost to Oxford in the first round of the 6A playoffs.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Collins ran for five TDs and passed for two TDs before suffering a season-ending knee injury against Clinton last season. He had his best game when he ran for 141 yards and two TDs and passed for 107 yards and two TDs in a 35-7 win over Pearl.

“Tate had an ACL injury and had surgery last fall,” Pogue said. “If he’s not at 100 percent now, he’s in the high 90s. We are excited to have a player of his caliber at JA.”

Photo by Chris Todd

Collins and junior Vic Sutton were in a battle for the starting quarterback position and if Collins didn’t win the job he would have probably started at another position, first-year Madison Central coach Toby Collums said. Collins has received offers from defending national junior college champion Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Copiah-Lincoln CC, Northeast Mississippi CC, Northwest Mississippi CC and Coahoma CC. Collins said Air Force and Southern Miss have shown the most interest among Division I schools. He finished rated second in the Elite 11 regional quarterback competition in Nashville in June.

“Tate has several junior college offers, but I think with his ability, size, speed and great grades, there is no doubt he will get more offers in the future,” Pogue said.

Pogue also got a talented transfer earlier this summer. Dakota Jordan, one of the most talented multisport athletes in Mississippi, transferred to JA from Canton Academy.

Jordan, a 5-11, 185-pound wide receiver-safety who has verbally committed to Mississippi State plans to play both football and baseball for the Bulldogs, is rated by 247 Sports as the 16th top recruit in Mississippi and third top recruit in the MAIS, behind MRA Under Armour All-American linebacker Stone Blanton and Greenville Christian cornerback Jaterrious Elam. Jordan is also rated the 50th top recruit in the athlete category in the country by 247 Sports. He caught 27 passes for 695 yards, 25.7 yards per catch, and nine touchdown passes on offense and had 25 tackles and seven interceptions on defense for 5-7 Canton Academy last season.JA finished 10-4 and finished runner-up to MRA in the MAIS Class 6A last season and made its first state championship appearance since 2013. JA ended a 12-game losing streak to Jackson Prep with a 28-21 win in the semifinals. JA hasn’t won a state title since winning three straight from 2009-2011.

Pogue will be entering his second season as head coach at JA after three years as defensive coordinator. He won five state titles and one national title in 10 years at South Panola.

Collins and Jordan joins 10 returning starters for JA, including Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard All-Metro selections, senior running back Marcus Harris and senior kicker Scott Swalley.