By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
BELDEN – Pernell McPhee was going to let a few campers wear his Super Bowl ring. Until Jason Ferguson thought better of it.
NFL names like those are why the Tupelo Christian football camp could grow into a star-studded yearly affair.
Ferguson, a former Nettleton and Itawamba CC standout who played 13 years along defensive lines with the Jets, Cowboys and Dolphins, laughed and instead passed the diamond-laced ring around in its case.
McPhee, a former Itawamba CC and Mississippi State standout and current linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, won it with a victory over the 49ers in only his second year in the league.
“It’s been a blessing, a great opportunity to do some things a lot of guys haven’t done in their life. One, fortunate enough to win the Super Bowl,” McPhee said. “Two, playing with one of the greatest of all times – probably football player, I wouldn’t just say middle linebacker.”
That middle linebacker is now-retired Ray Lewis, who McPhee helped out with a bang. McPhee, a fifth-round pick in 2011, will help fill Lewis’ void, turning from defensive end to outside linebacker.
Sacks helped McPhee make his name in the first place.
McPhee led the nation at ICC in 2008. After a rookie NFL season with six sacks, knee injuries kept him out of four games and he finished with 1.5 sacks and 21 tackles last season.
He did have a major part in a playoff win at Denver. After a fumble by Ravens running back Ray Rice, McPhee said Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was on a roll.
“Three plays later I had a sack, forced fumble and we went down and scored that same drive,” McPhee said. “That was a big turnaround in the game.”
It tied the game that Baltimore won in double overtime.
McPhee is already talking about coming back here next year. Shaune Holiday’s two-day camp also featured former Amory and Ole Miss tight end Rufus French and Ole Miss and Chicago Bears guard Terrence Metcalf. Ferguson said campers drill him about football, but that’s not all.
“How many sacks, how many cars, do you have a mansion,?” Ferguson said, then laughed. “It’s fun questions. I always tell them I’ve got a bicycle.”