Athletes get final chance to shine

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 3, 2009

JACKSON (AP) — Josh Boyd got a last-minute invitation to participate in the U.S. All-American Bowl, but it didn’t take Philadelphia’s heavily recruited defensive lineman long to decide if he wanted to participate.

‘‘I thought it was over for my high school days,’’ said Boyd, who also played in the Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Classic in Mobile last month. ‘‘I lost my last high school game, so maybe I can go out with a win in this one.

‘‘I think it’s another chance to put myself out there and represent my school and the school I’m going to next year.’’

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Boyd, who committed to Mississippi State before the 2008 season and remains with the Bulldogs after the program’s coaching change, is one of four players from Mississippi taking part in Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. It is the oldest of three national high school all-star games.

Noxubee County wide receiver Pat Patterson will play for the West — opposite Boyd, Lawrence County running back Kendrick Hardy and Olive Branch offensive lineman Aubrey Phillips on the East team — in the Army All-American Bowl. Like Boyd, it marks his second postseason all-star appearance.

‘‘It’s a lot different than the game in Mobile,’’ said Patterson, who has set up official visits to Alabama, Southern Miss, Ole Miss and Tennessee. ‘‘I knew a lot about the guys on my team down there because they were from back home. I don’t know too much about these guys. The guys from Mississippi pretty much hang out every day after practice. We just want to go out there and do our best.’’

Then there’s the chance to play on national television for the first time.

‘‘It’s really exciting,’’ Patterson said. ‘‘But I don’t want to pay too much attention to it because I don’t want to mess up.’’

For college coaches, it’s one more chance to evaluate players — even if it provides another chance for other schools to get involved and complicate recruiting.

‘‘The older I get, the more I realize that there are some things you can control and some you can’t,’’ Southern Miss assistant coach Tony Hughes said. ‘‘Recruiting is so delicate. If a school comes in late and sweeps a player off of his feet, then you probably weren’t going to get him anyway.

‘‘These all-star games for our kids in Mississippi show they can compete with kids from anywhere else. I think it allows them to up their stock and gives the state’s high school football credibility among the nation’s elite.”

The Offense-Defense All-American Bowl was Friday in Conway, S.C.

Wide receiver Chad Bumphis and quarterback Chris Garrett, both from Tupelo, played in that game.

The Under Armour All-America Game is scheduled for Sunday in Orlando, Fla. No Mississippi players are participating.