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July 11, 2011

Rivals.com tabs Alford top in-state player

Anthony Alford isn't one to become giddy over accolades and honors. His low-key manner stays in place much of the time.

Such was the situation Monday when Rivals.com tabbed Alford Mississippi's top 2012 prospect in its initial state rankings. The Petal quarterback had limited reaction to the acknowledgement, brushing off the compliment with an honest, hyperbole-free quote.

The athletic stalwart appreciates the praise but would rather be known for merits directly occurring on the athletic field.

"I just don't really get into all that," Alford said. "I'm excited, I really am, and it's cool, but I'm not getting into rankings and those things."

Rivals.com has Alford as the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback nationally and the No. 105 overall recruit for his class. He's already accepted an invite to the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl and was named Mississippi's Gatorade Player of the Year last season.

Heading into his senior season, Alford (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) has eight offers from Bowl Championship Series schools, including half of the Southeastern Conference. Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Tennessee have sent offers as have Clemson and Nebraska. Southern Miss, which is the closest college to Petal, is also in the game.

But while most high-profile prospects are traveling their respective regions to see schools and narrow lists, Alford is relaxing and preparing for his final prep season.

"I'm just working out and practicing with my team," Alford said. "I don't want to overdo it."

Alford has been to a couple in-state visit days, but the light schedule is partly due to a recent knee injury. During a regular season game against George County on Oct. 29, Alford tore his right anterior cruciate ligament, 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.

The serious setback cost Alford nearly a month of baseball season, but he says he's now "close to 100 percent."
KEITH NIEBUHR TALKS ANTHONY ALFORD
Anthony Alford has made quite an impression on Rivals.com southeast recruiting analyst Keith Niebuhr.

"This is absolutely an elite athlete. I think he can play quarterback or running back. He looks like a running back when he has the ball, and his skills fit a receiver. He could play cornerback because of his ability to twist, and he's big enough to play safety. Obviously we think he's special.

"We're the selection committee for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and we targeted him early because we think he's a legitimate dual-threat quarterback. You want to make sure the knee is all right, but otherwise he's that kind of guy.

"I'm very familiar with Jameis Winston, and the two players are very comparable. Alford is just a natural out there. I'm not sure how fair this is, but on video has Percy Harvin-like moves. My only concern at all is that's he not very tall."


BASEBALL A BIG PART OF ALFORD'S LIFE: This top-ranked player conversation is nothing new to Alford. He's also Mississippi's highest-rated baseball prospect for 2012, according to Perfect Game.

A lightning-quick outfielder (6.40 60-yard dash) that flashes plus tools, Alford says he plans to play both sports in college - if the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft doesn't take college out of the equation.

Petal captured its second consecutive 6A baseball state title this past spring. The Panthers were just 6-6 without Alford but finished the year 18-6 after he returned.

Every school that's offered in football has done the same for baseball, as well.

"I'll play both no doubt," Alford said. "I've always known that."

Despite taking most of the summer off, Alford traveled with Marucci Elite - a top tier Louisiana travel team - to the Perfect Game National Showcase in Fort Myers, Fla. He performed well and received an invite to the Aflac All-American Game in San Diego at PETCO Park on Aug. 14. However, he declined in favor of the Under Armour All-America Game at Chicago's Wrigley Field one day before.

The game in Chicago is an excellent opportunity to play in front of scouts and increase his draft stock, but Alford refuses to approach it that way.

"I'm just going to have fun," Alford said. "It's pretty nice to have this opportunity, and the experience of it will be a great thing."

This past season, Alford hit .390 with a team-high seven home runs while enduring his less-than-100-percent knee.

During the 2010 football season, Alford produced 2,652 yards of total offense and 35 touchdowns.


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