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Can't-miss talent in Mississippi

Updated: May 31, 2002, 12:38 PM ET
By By Tom Lemming, ESPN.com college football recruiting analyst | ESPN.com
EUPORA, Miss., March 29 -- I'm a big believer that, per capita, Mississippi may be the best state in the nation for football talent, and my visits in the Magnolia State on Thursday provided more confirmation of that belief.

My first stop was Southaven H.S., just across the Tennessee border, where I met with TB Chris Barnett (5-11, 180), who averaged eight yards per carry and likes Memphis, Baylor and Southern Miss; and teammate Justin Bursi (6-3, 240), who had 100 tackles at LB as a junior and is looking at Memphis, Mississippi State, LSU and Baylor.

I then drove down U.S. 61 to the Delta region, which has produced a lot of great players, such as Dwayne Rudd, Terrance Metcalf and, from the Class of 2002, Darren Williams. My next stop was Clarksdale, one of the more productive towns in the state for football talent. Clarksdale H.S. boasts three really good players. DB Trumaine McBride (5-10, 175) is a major talent who also plays RB and is being recruited by the Mississippi schools right now. OL Marcus Cohen (6-6, 290) has good strength, balance and production and didn't allow a sack last season; he's being recruited by Southern Miss, Mississippi and Arkansas. The best player on the team is SS Fernando Matthews (6-1, 210), who really impressed me with his hard-hitting style. He hits like a LB but runs like a DB and has all the tools for greatness.

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