CATEGORY: FOC College Football
HED:No surprises as high school players sign with colleges
By Ross W. Reily
When 8 a.m. rolled around Wednesday, Shannon High School’s Romaro Miller wasted little time in signing his name to the dotted line.
The PARADE All-America quarterback started the ball rolling by signing with Ole Miss, followed by his teammate Jamie Armstrong, who also inked with the Rebels.
With that, the day was under way as players all across Mississippi and the nation began the process of signing national letters of intent with the school of their choice.
From around the area, Ripley offensive lineman Kendall Simmons, who committed to Auburn more than a month ago, did the expected and signed with the Tigers.
“I’m excited about playing ball at Ole Miss,” Miller said after signing. “I’m glad this is all over. Things are beginning to get back to normal and our basketball team is on a winning streak. So, I’m pretty happy right now.”
During his senior season with Shannon, Miller was selected by the Mississippi Sports Writers Association as the 1996 Player of the Year, Reebock All-America and was a member of the Orlando Sentinel Dixie Dozen. He was rated by the Daily Journal as the top high school prospect in the state, while being rated No. 3 by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.
While a Red Raider for four seasons, Miller compiled 12,315 total yards, which ranks him first all-time in Mississippi. He completed 567-of-1,112 passes for 9,070 yards and 89 touchdowns, while also rushing for 3,245 yards and 38 TDs. His 127 TDs passing is a Mississippi state record.
“Romaro is a quarterback with a quick release, and he stands in the pocket and knows the one-back offense,” Ole Miss coach Tommy Tuberville said. “He has unlimited ability and the opportunity to come and help us his first year.”
Simmons, a 6-4, 308-pound offensive lineman, lettered four years for the Ripley Tigers and was twice named to the Daily Journal and Daily Corinthian All-Area teams, while being named All-Tippah County four times, including lineman of the year in 1996. He was named All Division 1-3A, including Most Valuable Lineman his senior season.
The Mississippi Sports Writers and Jackson Clarion-Ledger both named him to their all-state teams, while being rated No. 5 in the state as a high school prospect on the Daily Journal’s Top 30 list.
He runs a 4.9 40-yard dash and bench presses more than 400 pounds. He is a five-sport letterman.
“Kendall doesn’t necessarily need football to be a success in life,” Ripley head coach Jonathan Carnes said. “His parents have done a wonderful job raising him, and with his mind and talent, he’ll do fine whether he plays or not.”
Simmons and Miller highlighted the day’s events; however, several others from Northeast Mississippi made it official as to where they will be attending college.
Matt Koon, the 6-foot-4, 236-pound tight end from New Albany, signed with Ole Miss, while Jaquis Walker, a 6-1, 225-pound running back from Holly Springs, will be playing his college ball at Arkansas State.
Koon was a second-team all-state selection who was named to the Clarion-Ledger Top 40 and Daily Journal Top 30 recruits lists. He picked up first-team All Area honors from the Daily Journal and earned All Division 1-3A honors during his junior and senior seasons.
Holly Springs’ Walker rushed for more than 2,000 yards during his sophomore and junior seasons and had 845 yards after six games with the Hawks this year, including a 300-yard effort against North Panola, before injuring his knee.
A linebacker on defense, Walker was the Hawks’ second leading tackler in 1995. However, Arkansas State coaches say he will play running back, not linebacker, for the Indians.
The Tupelo duo of Mike Hamilton and Jake Hill signed with Ole Miss in a ceremony together. Hamilton (6-3, 263) is an offensive lineman that Ole Miss coach Tommy Tuberville says, “has excellent potential.” Hill (6-1, 180) quarterbacked the Golden Wave to a 7-4 record, completing 80-of-165 passes for more than 1,300 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also rushed for 296 yards and three more scores.
Armstrong, who signed with Ole Miss in a ceremony with Miller, was an all-state selection in 1996 and was named to the Daily Journal’s Top 40 recruits list. He was also named All Division 1-3A and All Lee County and was a receiver on the Daily Journal All Area team. He averaged 19 yards per reception his senior season, catching 66 passes for 1,254 yards and 16 touchdowns. For his career, Armstrong had 138 receptions for 2,534 yards and 25 scores.
Corinth’s L.P. Spence was another signee for the Rebels. The 6-2, 210-pound running back set the state single-game rushing record against Caledonia in 1996 with 434 yards and finished the season with 1,740 yards on 184 carries, an average of 9.4 yards per carry and 193.3 yards per game.
He was an MSWA All-State and a Daily Journal and Daily Corinthian All Area selection, while being named to the Clarion-Ledger Top 40 list. He was also the Daily Corinthian Player of the Year. For his career, the running back had 4,102 rushing yards and 5,089 all-purpose yards.