November 16, 2009
Bennett ready to tangle with heavyweights
The Mississippi 6A football playoff bracket reveals the preliminaries are over. The less talented are gone, and the contenders are slated to meet.
So, with Madison Central, South Panola and Olive Branch three of the four teams - along with Clinton - remaining on the North Half side of the slate, what better way to add a little extra spice than to put all the key players in a room together. You know, let them pass time with small talk.
That occurred when the Mississippi roster for the 2009 Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Football Classic recently assembled for a team meeting. Madison Central three-star defensive tackle Bryon Bennett had a chance to chat with the opponents he'll likely face over the next two weeks.
Bennett and four-star Carlton Martin represent the Jaguars on the roster, while South Panola's Nicholas Parker and Devin Clark and Olive Branch's Shon Coleman and Damien Robinson will all join the MC teammates on Dec. 12 in an effort to knock off the best players from the state of Alabama at Ladd Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. And it's a great honor and all, but team unity isn't exactly at the forefront of thought just yet.
"We play Olive Branch Friday, and then probably South Panola the week after that, so it's crazy this time of year," Bennett said. "I talked a lot to the Olive Branch offensive lineman (Coleman) and started talking that fire early. I had to plant a little seed. But he gave it back and had fun with it. This is what you've been waiting for."
South Panola ousted Madison Central last season and a rivalry has quickly surfaced - at least from the Jaguar end - when it comes to facing the Tigers. Bennett acknowledged Clark at the meeting, but the same amount of pleasantries weren't exchanged.
"I think both us and South Panola know we're enemies," Bennett said, laughing. "There wasn't a lot of talk. We're just motivated to get on the field. It was pretty icy no doubt."
COLLEGE PREP: The all-star game in Mobile might not be the last time two or more of the highly touted players will be teammates, as the athletes possess many of the same offers.
Bennett and Martin have been constants in Oxford, Miss., this season to watch Ole Miss and that continued this past Saturday when the Rebels blasted Tennessee. This late in the season, it's hard to learn many new things about the program. Rather, Bennett is just enjoying the trips and bettering his relationship with the coaching staff.
Saturday went well enough that the Jaguar pair didn't make it to the other big college game in the state.
"We were going to do Ole Miss and Tennessee and then Mississippi State and Alabama, but we didn't make it to the second one," Bennett said. "I just got comfortable in Oxford and wanted to stay - ended up spending the night.
"It was a big game for Ole Miss. A win like that is always good, and they might hit another stride like last year."
Bennett had planned to take an official visit to Baylor on Saturday and had a trip to Texas Tech set for this Saturday, but both have been delayed due to logistical issues. With high school games on Friday and early kickoffs, the visits would have been difficult.
"The Big XII trips are going to have to wait," Bennett said. "I'm going back to Oxford for the LSU game, that is going to be exciting. Then, I'll figure out the other ones after the season for the official visits."
Bennett, who has around a dozen offers, has continually placed Texas Tech, Ole Miss and Oklahoma at the top of his choices, but he said Sunday he could see himself playing at "about six" schools that have offered.
"I think I'd be happy at about six of them, but visits will tell more," Bennett said. "I know it'll be great wherever I pick. I'll take as many visits as I can."
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