February 10, 2011

Alford begins the recruiting process

Anthony Alford will have several decisions to make in the next 18 months.

The reigning Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year on the football field will be recruited by many top programs leading up to National Signing Day 2012. But there's more to Alford's athletic resume than his standout play as Petal High School's dual-threat quarterback.

He's also Mississippi's top baseball prospect for his class. An outfielder with plus speed (6.40-second 60-yard dash, per Alford) and tools, Alford could be a very early pick in the 2012 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft, according to projections.

The possibility of a professional payday combined with the stress of the college football recruiting cycle can be overwhelming, but Alford has a simple solution to lighten the load. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder plans to attend college and focus on the recruiting until there's reason to check out the professional baseball angle.

"I'm definitely leaning toward college," Alford said. "I just want to get an education, play football and baseball and go to college."

Due to Alford's potential in both sports, he is looking at schools with competitive programs in both football and baseball. Still completely open, Alford admits he'll likely stay somewhat close to home.

He checked out his first junior day at Ole Miss on Jan. 29. It was his second time to see the Oxford, Miss. campus. The event included tours and talking to coaches on the football side, and then Alford walked over to Oxford-University Stadium to speak to baseball coaches and watch the Rebels' first scrimmage of the 2011 preseason.

Alford has offers from Ole Miss, MSU, LSU and Southern Miss. He'll head to Starkville, Miss., for a visit day with the Bulldogs later this month. Ole Miss signed Senquez Golson, the top two-sport athlete in the state in 2011. Golson's decision doesn't impact Alford, but it gives the Rebels credibility considering their willingness to be flexible about multiple sports.

"The coaches know it's going to come down to the schools that will allow me to play both sports," Alford said. I'm not worried about how I'll balance the two when I get on campus. I'll let the time come and see what happens."

ALFORD MENDING ON SCHEDULE: Other than a few junior events, Alford is spending most of his time trying to repair his right knee.

During a regular season game against George County on Oct. 29, Alford tore his right anterior cruciate ligament and his meniscus, and also sprained his lateral collateral ligament. Doctors told Alford he couldn't injure the knee worse by postponing surgery, so he finished the season, losing 35-34 to Oak Grove in the opening round of the playoffs.

Alford put up 2,652 yards of total offense and 35 touchdowns in 2010.

"I just wanted to help my team in the playoffs," Alford said. "Coach told me about the ACL, but I didn't want to quit. We all had to work together."

Alford walked without crutches four weeks after surgery and is now jogging.

"I can do straight-ahead moves, but I can't do anything laterally," Alford said. "I'm getting better and swinging the bat. I'm probably halfway through the process and will be back right after spring break."

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