High School Sports

Who’s the Coast’s next big recruit?

Harrison Central running back Keon Moore, who will be in the 2018 signing class, already has offers from Texas-San Antonio, Jackson State and Louisiana-Lafayette.
Harrison Central running back Keon Moore, who will be in the 2018 signing class, already has offers from Texas-San Antonio, Jackson State and Louisiana-Lafayette. amccoy@sunherald.com File

Fax machines across the country will still be cooling down from their one day in the spotlight Wednesday and colleges will have already moved past their freshly inked 2017 signing classes.

For South Mississippi, 2018 will be a noticeable step back from a historic ’17 that included more than 20 players with at least one four-year offer. While the Coast likely won’t have the quantity of this year, there should still be plenty of quality as more players emerge.

Here are some of the highlights looking ahead:

Class of 2018

Harrison Central running back Keon Moore should be the next big signee to come out of South Mississippi. The Red Rebel is a force on the field and has become a leader off of it as well.

“He has the size, but he also has the strength and speed,” HCHS coach Casey Cain said. “He has all the right attributes to be a great football player.”

Cain went as far as to say Moore’s desire to be the best goes above and beyond.

“In the summer he wants to be at the field house all the time,” Cain said of the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Moore. “He just sleeps football. He loves it. He loves everything about it. The running, lifting and the playing.”

As a junior in 2016, Moore was among the Coast’s rushing leaders with 1,775 yards and 21 touchdowns. Nine times in 11 games he eclipsed 100 yards. His standout junior campaign came off of a 1,00-yard, six-touchdown sophomore season.

Moore’s first offer came from Texas-San Antonio last season. Jackson State and Louisiana-Lafayette have followed suit in recent weeks, with more on the way.

“There’s no doubt,” Cain said. “I just think he’s a kid who had a big junior year and didn’t go to a lot of camps this past year. He’ll be invited to a lot. It gets real serious once you get to the spring of his senior year.”

Other players to watch in the ’18 class include Gulfport linebacker Karlos Dillard and East Central running back and receiver duo of Tony Brown and Brad Cumbest, among others.

Class of 2019

Linemen could dominate the Coast’s ’19 class as D’Iberville’s Louis Paul Smith and Harrison Central’s Bryce Ramsey have already earned offers.

Smith, a versatile lineman for the Warriors, has been one of the Coast’s more active recruits. He has already visited a number of schools and actually earned a Southern Miss offer in late July. He recently visited Auburn.

“I’m definitely going to wait until my senior year to make a decision,” Smith told the Sun Herald in July. “Part of it is academics because you have to be a good student before you can be an athlete and I want to find the right academic fit.”

Ramsey recently earned an offer from Jackson State and could garner plenty more attention in the following seasons.

“He’s been starting since he was a freshman and plays every position on offensive line,” Cain said. “Also, not only in his weight class, but his age group, he’ll be another (power lifting) record setter. He’s already as a sophomore lifting 750 pounds squatting.

“His freakish strength is just unbelievable for a 16-year-old.”

Cain particularly likes Ramsey’s ability to flip a switch. Off the field, the 6-foot-2, 330-pound Ramsey is polite and cordial. On the field — lets just say he’s not.

“I think he’s a Division I lineman. He’s an unbelievable blocker. He finishes blocks better than anyone I’ve ever seen,” Cain said. “When he straps that chin strap on, he’s all business.”

The Coast’s 2019 signing class was dealt a massive blow this offseason when St. Martin linebacker Donte’ Starks opted to move to the New Orleans area, where he’s enrolled at John Ehret High School.

Starks was already a standout in 2016 as a sophomore. He started receiving interest during the season.

The attention has only ramped up this winter as Starks has landed big-time offers from the likes of LSU, Arkansas, Florida State and others. Don’t be surprised if by his senior year Starks is mentioned in the same conversation as the country’s top linebackers.

Class of 2020

One of the bigger recruiting stories of the past 12 months or so involved someone who had yet to play a varsity snap.

George County freshman McKinnley Jackson earned a Louisiana-Lafayette offer following Ocean Springs’ satellite camp.

I saw first hand at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s camp why ULL was so fast to jump. Once the 6-foot-2, 260-pound freshman completed his 40-yard dash, many of the coaches on hand about suffered from whiplash trying to figure out who the big kid was.

“He’s physically mature for his age,” George County coach Matt Caldwell told the Sun Herald in June. “The first time we got our hands on him was this spring. He’s got a good attitude. He’s a good, hard working kid.

“He’s still got a long way to go technique-wise. He’s still learning the game and all those things. As hard as he works, he’s going to be fine.”

Jackson didn’t disappoint as a freshman. Playing mostly along the defensive line, Jackson recorded 60 tackles, including 30 for negative yardage, on his way to being named a Freshman All-American by MaxPreps.com.

More offers are likely on the way for Jackson and other Coast underclassmen, which leads to a logical question: Following this year’s historic signing class, who’s next?

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

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