CATEGORY: FOC College Football



By Mike Talbert

Daily Journal

AMORY Four new team caps for Auburn, Florida, Ole Miss and Tennessee sat on the table Monday in the corner of the Amory High School library.

The crowd gathered was wondering which cap Parade All-America and Gatorade Mississippi Player of the Year Rufus French would choose and reveal which school would get his signature on national signing day, Feb. 7.

Some of the suspense was taken from the moment by the large number of Ole Miss fans in the crowd of 50-60 people waiting for the 6-foot-5 tight end to make his commitment

French, who had just returned from a recruiting trip to Florida, tried to make a short speech first:

“It’s been fun to go and visit all the schools. I haven’t ever been treated like that before,” he said.

But, he cut the talk short and grabbed the Rebel cap and said, “I’m going to Ole Miss.”

The room broke into applause.

French made it a clean sweep for the Rebels, who have commitments from the top four Amory prospects. The Class of ’96 went 39-2 and had back-to-back undefeated Class 3A state championship seasons in 1994 and ’95.

The earlier Ole Miss commitments from Amory include Daily Journal Player of the Year, running back Joe Gunn, defensive lineman Darius “Boone” Brown and linebacker Reggie Smith.

The fact that those three had already committed to Ole Miss influenced French’s decision. However, French said the clinchers were the opportunity to play early at Ole Miss, possibly lining up as an H-back receiver, and a chance to play baseball.

“The other schools said they would let me play baseball, but Ole Miss was the only school that showed me they would and let me talk with their (baseball) coaches,” he said.

French also said that education played a factor, but added, “They all told me how good an education they could give me, but I think an education is in the person.”

This season, French had 50 catches for 654 yards and 14 touchdowns. He has career totals of 80 catches, 1,171 yards and 24 touchdowns.

French is the fourth son of Annie Ruth and Joel French to play football at Amory, including Norris French, Curtis French and University of Alabama at Birmingham defensive back Lamont French.

Joel French said he was glad his son was staying in state where his family could easily see him play.

Rufus French said he had made up his mind last week, but still had to do a lot of thinking. “The reason I didn’t tell anybody is I wanted to be real sure. I didn’t want to lie to anyone.”

In addition to the Amory four, area commitments include: linebackers Chad Cook of Calhoun City and Daniel Galloway of Pontotoc to Ole Miss and Pontotoc quarterback Ryan Hooker to Mississippi State.

There are a few major prospects who are still uncommitted.

Bruce linebacker Armegis Spearman (6-2, 230) is expected to announce his decision today. He visited Mississippi State over the weekend. He is expected to choose between Ole Miss and Tennessee.

Marcus Autry of Pontotoc, a 3.6 GPA student and a 6-foot-6, 330-pound offensive lineman, returned from a weekend visit to Oklahoma. He is expected to choose among OU, Mississippi State and Auburn.

Also, linebacker Bradley Prather (6-2, 230) of Falkner is still being looked at by Arkansas.

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