MOBILE, Ala. - While numerous players on hand for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic had strong Wednesday practices, nobody was more impressive than Leroy (Ala.) wide receiver Sammie Coates. During Alabama's afternoon session, Coates got on the same page as his quarterbacks and made the Alabama secondary pay again and again.
"I was just catching everything that was coming my way," Coates said. "I am dealing with some really good quarterbacks and they just are making me better while I am making them better."
December has treated Coates well so far. The firm Auburn commitment earned MVP honors in a 34-7 win for his Leroy team over Reeltown in the state championship a week ago. In that game, Coates caught two touchdowns and ran for another. Coates finished the game with 27 yards rushing on six carries and five receptions for 60 yards.
"It has been amazing to come from a small city and be doing a lot of big things," Coates said. "Getting a chance to come and play in this all-star game is great for my area. It shows that talent comes from my area."
Coates hopes his recent stretch of solid play continues on Saturday afternoon against the Mississippi secondary. He feels the Alabama secondary has prepared him well through two days of practice.
"They have a lot of talent out there," Coates said. "They are making me a whole lot better, playing against these top defensive backs."
Recruits looking for exposure
Meridian (Miss.) safety Shaquille Fluker entered the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic in a similar position as that of many prospects in the game. He has high hopes of putting on a stellar performance and earning more recognition from colleges.
He has already earned a fair share of attention and hopes that continues with his performance on Saturday. Entering the game, he had heard from a handful of schools, with two extending offers.
"South Alabama, Alabama, Central Arkansas, Arkansas State, Southern - I think that is about it," Fluker said. "South Alabama and Arkansas State have offered."
At this point, the 6-foot-1, 192-pound athlete plans to travel to South Alabama for an official visit but hasn't set up a specific date yet. He said that the Jaguars have been showing regular interest, with recruiting coordinator Brian Turner handling his recruitment.
"He said that they have been looking at me for quite some time, since my 11th grade year," Fluker said. "He said they would love for me to come in, work hard, earn a spot, and be dedicated."
While Fluker is hoping a strong performance at Ladd Peebles Stadium will springboard his recruitment to the next level, he also knows that he should enjoy the game and allow the chips to fall where they may.
"There is a lot of talent out here," Fluker said. "It is good to play in this game because not a lot of people got chosen for it. I am hoping to have a big game. I am just going to work hard for it."
Alabama defensive back Eric Dixon (Vigor) missed his second consecutive morning practice as he is taking the Alabama High School graduation exam. The Kentucky commitment has participated in both afternoon sessions.
Mississippi defensive tackle Christian Ringo from Forest Hill was a late addition to the Mississippi roster. On Tuesday, he made himself known to his teammates with some strong play in the trenches on the defensive line. The 6-foot-2, 270-pound defensive lineman holds offers from Jackson State and Memphis.
Each roster includes players listed as an athlete, but those players have quickly settled into their roles. On Alabama's squad, McKenzie's Emmanuel Johnson is working at wide receiver. On Mississippi's squad, Mount Olive's Rueben Duckworth is working at running back while South Panola's Kendrick Market is making his home in the defensive secondary.
Tuesday saw the Alabama team practice at Lipscomb Stadium in the morning and Foley High School in the afternoon. The Mississippi squad practiced at UMS Wright in the morning and at Ocean Springs High School in Mississippi in the afternoon. Wednesday will have both Alabama practices being held at Lipscomb Stadium while Mississippi will be at UMS Wright for both sessions.