By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – Michael Graise’s sights are set on receiving a college education. He hopes football can help pay some of the bill.
The 6-foot-4, 250-pound unsigned West Oktibbeha defensive end will get an opportunity to showcase his abilities one last time for recruiters in today’s inaugural Robertson’s Sportswear Northeast Mississippi Football Coaches Association All-Star Game.
The kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Saltillo High School stadium.
“I know I have the potential and the skills to play,” Graise said. “I hope I get a look. I know I’m giving 100 percent all the way in this game.”
Graise’s head coach on the East squad, Booneville’s Mike Mattox, said all the coaches who volunteered their services this week want what’s best for the players.
“Some of these kids have signed, but there are some who were overlooked who can flat-out play,” Mattox said. “(Graise) is one of those.
“This game gives a lot these players another opportunity for schools to see them. If we have just one kid sign a scholarship then it’s worth it.”
The East and West teams, both with 35-man rosters, practiced this week at Booneville High School and Northeast Mississippi Community College and were honored with a banquet Tuesday night.
Shannon linebacker Devan Gilleylan has signed with Itawamba Community College, but is looking forward to playing one more time before reporting this summer to Fulton.
“I’ve been playing football all my life, so I’m enjoying this week,” he said, moments after Tuesday’s morning practice. “You want to be seen again. I want to play somewhere after ICC.”
The teams were able to conduct seven practices, which isn’t a lot of time for a new team.
“We’ve tried to keep everything as simple as possible,” said West coach, New Albany’s Ron Price. “You want to do it right so the kids represent their schools well.”
Mattox hopes the NMFCA can eventually move its game to December.
“Maybe we could sandwich it in between the Alabama/Mississippi Game and the Mississippi North/South Game,” he said. “There are a lot of good players left after those teams are selected.
“I think having this game is a good thing.”