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MOBILE, Ala. - Tuesday marked the first day of practice at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic and both teams worked on the fundamentals of their offense and defense. Rivals.com was present at both sessions of practice for both teams.
During the history of the All-Star Classic, Alabama leads the all-time series with a 16-7 lead, including last December's 21-13 win. For the squad from the Magnolia State, that bit of history is nauseating.
"We just want to come through," Batesville South Panola wide receiver Nickalos Brassell said. "We are tired of being down these last couple of years. We are ready to change that. We are in this game to compete and to win it."
Brassell's sentiment was echoed by one of his teammates, defensive lineman P.J. Jones. The Tupelo prospect says that practice is about fun and camaraderie, but that they also all share a similar determination when it comes to the outcome of Saturday's game.
"We are having fun," Jones said. "It is great seeing all the guys I played with throughout the season like (Nickalos) Brassell, (Kendrick) Market, (Qyendarius) Griffin, and all of those guys. We are just trying to come together to beat Alabama"
"It is about time to bring it back home," Jones added. "We are going to go out there and play and see what we can do."
After the conclusion of the first day of practice, Chelarvez Brown, an all-purpose back committed to Ole Miss from Winona, said that when he looks at the Mississippi roster that surrounds him, he doesn't see any reason why the Magnolia State can't win on Saturday.
"We need to turn this back around right here," Brown said. "We have the talent in Mississippi to win these games, so we just need to turn it back around. We need to turn a new leaf over this year, beat Alabama, and then just continue to beat Alabama."
Roles will change
Tuesday provided the first opportunity for the two squads to prepare, but it also pits teammate against teammate. While the competitive juices were evident at both UMS-Wright, where the Mississippi team practiced, and at Murphy, where the Alabama team practiced, it was also clear that the players realized they are at an all-star event.
"It is fun," Valley (Ala.) defensive back Erique Florence said. "I have been looking forward to it for a while. It is a chance to compete against some great players. I plan to take advantage of it."
One player catching Florence's eye immediately was a wide receiver teammate who recently earned MVP honors in his state championship game.
"I know (Alabama wide receiver) Sammie Coates," Florence said. "He is a pretty good dude. I have gone against him before at a camp. I look forward to seeing Mississippi trying to stop him."
The defensive backs weren't the only people impressed on the Alabama squad. Wide receiver Daryl Collins from Gadsden (Ala.) Gadsden City said that it is a pretty major challenge squaring off against the Yellowhammer State's defensive backfield.
"We have nice size, pretty fast," Collins said. "(Jonathan) Rose, me and him have gone at it at a camp and at 7-on-7. He jumps out at me. We are going to go at it when we do 1-on-1's probably. I am ready for it."
"I would rather play against Mississippi than them," Collins added. "I am looking forward to facing some new defensive backs and corners."
On the Alabama squad, Kyreek Brown from Millbrook Stanhope Elmore replaced Hoover tight end Jaylon Denson. Denson opted not to play in the game for personal reasons. ? The Alabama squad is coached by Fred Yancey of Birmingham Briarwood Christian, while Mississippi is led by M.C. Miller of Louisville.