Mississippi: The Running Backs

West Point's Aeris Williams

The state of Mississippi has a rich history when it comes to producing college level running back prospects. Walter Payton, Deuce McAllister, Jerious Norwood and current San Francisco 49er Anthony Dixon are all products of Mississippi High School programs. A new crop of talented runners are ready to add to their home state's legacy.

The southeast is loaded with quality running back prospects for the 2014 signing class.

The state of Mississippi will be a part of that strong crop and have a few backs sign with BCS conference schools next February.

Forrest County AHS star Dontavian Lee has been highly thought of over the course of the last two seasons, but his junior campaign proved that he has the potential to be an every down back on the college level.

Lee rushed for 1,392 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior. A capable receiver out of the backfield, Lee also hauled in five touchdown passes.

At this point in his development as a running back, Lee appears to be the most well rounded in the state.

He has the speed to run away from defensive backs in the secondary and the strength to power ahead between the tackles to earn the hard yards.

Blessed with excellent change of direction and a smooth gait, Lee is a finisher.

Once he breaks into the open field, he wills himself into the endzone.

Lee has a very bright future in front of him as long as he continues to work hard on and off the field.

Aeris Williams of West Point had a very nice junior campaign where he rushed for 1,519 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Williams is just beginning to really grow into his frame and run behind his pads. He is starting to realize that when he runs hard and follows his blocks, that he can be extremely productive.

Playing at West Point, Williams will get his fair share of carries and in that run happy offense he should continue to flourish.

Williams can help out in the return game and he can be 20 to 25 carries college back.

His best football is in front of him and once he realizes his full potential he could be one of the best prospects not only in the state of Mississippi, but the entire southeast.

Preston Dedeaux of Picayune put together a robust junior season despite missing some time to injury during the middle part of the season.

Even though he was limited at times, Dedeaux rushed for 1,451 yards and 20 touchdowns.

The Maroon Tide offense is a perfect fit for his north/south get up the field style of play.

Dedeaux is a very phyiscal and brusing back that wears the defense down.

His change of direction is an area for improvement before making the jump to the college level.

If you're looking for a big, straight line runner who can power ahead for the tough yards, then Dedeaux is your guy.

Petal's Tyus Raine is another player who was a little banged up at times this past fall, but he demonstrated some real natural ability.

Raine can make people miss and he has another gear when getting to the corner.

While not the biggest back on the board, he runs hard and plays bigger than listed in the Friday night program.

Raine grinded out 876 yards and 15 touchdowns as the Panthers put together a strong campaign one year removed from the 6A state title game.

A name to remember this summer and season is Biloxi standout Devoriae Martin. Martin had an electric sophomore season that sent his recruiting stock to a new level.

Unfortunately, Martin suffered an ACL injury and missed the 2012 season.

Prior to that setback, Martin showed a tremendous burst and the ability to jump cut like a pro.

If he returns to form, he will be a hot name during the 2013 season.

We have Ole Miss commitment D.K. Buford listed as a running back, but I believe his future will be as a slot receiver.

Buford ran for 830 yards and 12 touchdowns, but he also proved to be a real threat out in the pass pattern.

The Lafayette star had 25 catches for 398 yards and four more scores.

Buford can also be an asset in the return game where his speed can be a real weapon.

As perhaps the fastest player in the state for 2014, Buford will benefit in a spread style offense that allows him to operate in space.

Keep an eye on Cleveland East-Side running back Quadre Butler who was one of the most prolific rushers in the state last fall.

The spring evaluation period and college camps this summer will be an important part of things as he moves into his senior season.

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