Posted On: 03/23/21 9:00 AM

Most freshmen in the country aren’t playing varsity ball at all. The ones that are are usually pretty special players. Most coaches won’t offer players after their freshman season, but it sure is fun to watch some of the guys who have a chance early on. Below, we will be highlighting 8 of the state’s best freshman last season. This list will continue to grow over time.

Braylon Burnside | ATH | Starkville

Already listing offers from Oregon and Florida State, it is not a question that Braylon Burnside is going to be a national level recruit. A two way player as a receiver and free safety, Burnside has a ton of potential to be a star on either side of the ball. Last year, he played as a dominant free safety with excellent speed, range, and vertical ability. Burnside is capable of covering all levels of the field and doesn’t appear to be afraid of contact either. Put him in company with fellow Starkville alums Willie Gay and AJ Brown because this guy is gonna be special.

Terry Patton Jr. | ATH| Pass Christian

An all region level player in his first year, Terry Patton has a lot of upside as a running back. He has great speed, vision, and acceleration for a young kid. Patton also has an uncanny ability to make people miss in space. He has loose hips and good wiggle that allows him to shake off opposing defenders trying to make a tackle. Patton also plays receiver and can go up and get the ball. He burns defensive backs with his speed and makes plays downfield. He even plays DB and produces! Incredibly high ceiling for Patton; not even totally sure where to project him yet. He’s just good at football.

Derrick Hudson | OL | Humphreys County

Freshmen rarely start for the offensive line due to its learning curve. Derrick Hudson does. The 6’3″ 320 is a dominant force at a young age. He is a naturally strong kid with good athleticism as well. Hudson has quick and active feet in the run game and plays with a big time edge. He loves to dominate whoever is across from him. In pass pro, he has a strong first punch and can crush opposing pass rushers. With continued development and refining his skills, this is the type of player that college coaches will love.

Jimothy Lewis | DL | Madison Ridgeland Academy

A 6’7″ freshman exists. I wasn’t even sure that was possible, but here is Jimothy Lewis. Lewis played in the rotation last year at MRA and demonstrated a lot of ability as a future star at defensive line. Lewis has a great get off and great length for his age – elite tools for defensive linemen to have. He played well against the run and got after the quarterback in the pass game. Last year, Lewis was super raw and won primarily off of his size and speed. Expect him to have a huge sophomore year. Size and athleticism like this doesn’t come around that often.

Jeffery Rush | DL | Pascagoula

At 6’2″ 230, Jeffery Rush is a grown man at an early age. Rush is extremely fast off the ball and agile in space. For a young kid, he has a well developed upper body and can push players around with ease. He plays violent and explosive. Rush is a dominant force in the run game and has a lot of promise as a pass rusher. With his speed and strength, the sky is the limit. Expecting this kid to grow into a big time DL.

Fred Clark | LB | Winona

At 6’2″ 205, Fred Clark is a linebacker with a ton of upside in the 2024 class. This guy is violent and fast. Clark has a big time football IQ and diagnoses plays well with his eyes. He is the prototypical modern day linebacker due to his sideline to sideline speed and ability to play in coverage. Clark’s tape last year could make an argument for being one of the state’s top 15 players regardless of graduation date. He gets after it every single play. Fred Clark is going to be a highly recruited linebacker. He has all the tools to be an absolute wrecking machine.

Jamarcus Thompson | LB | Leake Central

This kid is an exciting young player. At 6’0 220, he already has the frame to play college linebacker. Thompson is a beast off the edge who plays fast and physical. He already has great length in his arms, meaning he isn’t even close to being done growing yet. Running with a head full of steam, Thompson reads plays well and can quickly trigger. He tackles well with good form. This kid’s film is better as a freshman than some players’ senior year tape who signed last cycle. Huge upside and potential here at Leake Central.

Tylan McNichols | DB | Newton

Freshman defensive backs who produce at a high level aren’t common. Tylan McNichols stands at 6’1″ 195 and was a baller last year. The young DB showed ability to cover the post as a safety and come up and play physically in the box. He tackles well and has good ball skills. McNichols is a scary sight for opposing quarterbacks due to his length and stature as well. Expecting this kid to grow into one of the state’s most dominant defensive players.

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