By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Gabe Myles had a lot of pressure on his shoulders entering the season.
The Starkville quarterback was the reigning Class 5A Offensive Player of the Year, had led his team to the state championship game and committed to Mississippi State.
Then he injured his ankle in the season opener and missed three weeks as the Yellow Jackets (10-3) got off to a 1-2 start. Both losses came against MHSAA North finalists, Noxubee County and Madison Central. A third loss came in Week 4 against West Point, which Starkville will face for the 5A North championship here Friday.
“I think it’s been a tough year just because of the pressure he put on himself more than anything,” Starkville coach Jamie Mitchell said. “He’s the best player on the field and he wants to live up to that. Down the stretch, he’s really come back to his own, letting it happen. That’s when he’s at his best.”
Myles’ role will likely turn to defensive back at MSU, but for now he’s trying to lead the Yellow Jackets back to the 5A state championship after losing to Picayune last season.
The 6-foot, 170-pound senior isn’t the loudest guy but Starkville has won nine straight behind him. Myles has rushed for 542 yards and nine touchdowns and thrown for 1,026 yards and 12 TD.
“Everybody knows I’m not too vocal. But when something needs to be said, I will say it. I’m mostly a quiet leader who leads by example,” he said.
He was admittedly somewhat careful his first game back against West Point, when he had a combined 171 yards and three touchdowns in a 47-22 loss.
“I didn’t run the ball near as much as they usually have me run the ball. Actually it was a good thing because I was able to complete passes,” Myles said. “After I got used to running again, I was fine.”
Mississippi State shouldn’t be too concerned about the athlete wavering on his commitment. Myles’ dad Eddie played defensive back for the Bulldogs from 1987-90.
Gabe Myles had offers from Ole Miss and Alcorn State as well, but neither had a chance.
“I grew up a Mississippi State fan,” Myles said, then smiled. “I went to every home game possible. It was a wonderful opportunity to get to go.”