By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – When watching Oxford High’s practice on Monday afternoon, one couldn’t help to notice the behemoth of a left tackle wearing the No. 68 jersey.
“He’s a big ol’ boy,” Chargers head coach Johnny Hill said about Tyrone Madkins. “He’s 6-7, about 320. He’s only a junior.”
The monster of an offensive tackle didn’t happen to play football last year, but nonetheless best personifies the makeup of the 2011 Chargers: young, talented players who not many have heard of.
“Just by his size alone, that makes him a D-I prospect, and he’s getting better every day,” Hill said about Big Ty’s likely college recruitment. “He’s still raw. They (college coaches) don’t know him much yet.”
Clifton Smith is another junior offensive lineman with tremendous potential.
“He started the latter part of his ninth-grade year and last year as a 10th-grader, so this is his third year to start for us,” Hill said about his center.
“I think he’s an outstanding football player. Like I said, he’s just a junior; he’ll get recruited next year like Ty (Madkins).”
With the loss of standout quarterback Guy Cameron Billups to graduation, Hill will turn to two juniors – Parker Adamson and William Elliott – to lead the offense. Adamson and Elliott played together on both the freshman and junior varsity teams as Billups – now at Rice University – took the varsity snaps.
“I think they learned a lot from Guy,” Hill said. “They’ve been working hard all summer long and they are just going to have to step up.
“But I got two of them. Last year, I had one (quarterback) that we went to war with. This year, I ought to be able to have two of them to be able to go to war with.”
Hill said that he plans to use both Adamson and Elliott on a regular basis until one “steps up and just outshines the other one.”
Nonetheless, Adamson is the long snapper and Elliott’s the punter on special teams.
Another junior to watch on offense, says Hill, is tight end Xavier Pegues.
“He’s going to be pretty special,” said the longtime Oxford coach.
Talented but young also describes the Chargers defensive secondary this year.
“We got several folks that will be new over there, but I think will do a good job for us,” said Hill, entering his 19th season at the helm.
Folks will get to see this youthful bunch in action against a strong Shannon squad in Friday’s 8 p.m. jamboree game at Ole Miss’ Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
“You gotta get ready, and when you’re in (MHSAA’s Class) 5A, you better get ready for every week,” Hill said. “There ain’t no weak sisters.”
With only 13 seniors this season, Hill and Co. will try use the jamboree game – just like they do every year – as a “measuring stick.”
“I don’t want to spend a lot of time getting ready for that jamboree,” Hill said. “That jamboree is a controlled scrimmage and we use it as a measuring stick.
“We want to get better and get some of those first-game mistakes out of our system, so that when we get ready to play the next week, we won’t make those same mistakes.”