Meridian Star

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February 7, 2013

Area standouts headed to next level

MERIDIAN —     Goal accomplished for Jarkeith Ruffin.

    The West Lauderdale linebacker hoped to play Division I football and Wednesday realized that dream as he signed with Southern University in an afternoon signing ceremony at the school.

    "That was the whole goal," Ruffin said. "I went down there and felt really comfortable. I kind of knew all along that is where I wanted to go but I had questions. In the end, I just stuck with my first instinct."

    The 6-foot-3, 241-pounder played in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star game in December following his one season with the Knights after moving in from near Nashville, Tenn.

    "We were fortunate to get Jarkeith last year and he was a big asset to our program," West coach Stan McCain said. "He's certainly a Division I football player. He's probably the best defensive football player I've been around."

    Joining Ruffin in signing Wednesday at West were Richard Thomas and Corey Fox. Thomas, who was the Knights' quarterback prior to injuring his ankle early in the season, signed with Pearl River Community College, while Fox is headed to Concordia College in Selma, Ala.

    "Richard has a lot of athletic ability," McCain said about Thomas. "We probably could have had two Division I football players had he not gotten hurt. I've told all the coaches that his long-term potential is as a four-year guy back there in the secondary.

    "Corey is a product of hard work. He's going to do well and he's a heck of a blocker and a pretty good defensive player as well."

— Jamie Wachter

    

MERIDIAN

    Meridian High School showed off its new field house as well as its talent on National Signing Day, as the Wildcats opened the new facility by holding a press conference to announce that wide receiver Isaac Johnson and lineman JaQarius Scott will be signing at East Mississippi Community College for the upcoming season.

    The Wildcats also welcomed back former EMCC and Meridian standouts Jason Yarbor and Shaquille Fluker to announce their signings to four-year colleges. Fluker, a safety for EMCC, will be attending the University of Georgia, while Yarbor signed with Northwestern State where he will play football and baseball.

    “I’m extremely proud for these young men,” Meridian head coach Larry Weems said. “They are quality folks. They are good football players, but they are better kids. I am glad they are getting the opportunity to further their education. I know they will be successful in whatever they do.”

    A four-star rated prospect by Rivals.com, Fluker said he is excited to get the opportunity to play in the SEC. The talented defender knew he wanted to play in the SEC, and when he visited the school he was sold by the program and facilities the Bulldogs had to offer. Fluker also sees Georgia as a team on the cusp of a championship and hopes to be the piece to bring the Bulldogs over the top in 2013.

    “It’s a great time to be at Georgia,” Fluker said. “I thought they were going to be in the championship this year, and I think we are going to have a good chance of being in it this year.”

    Georgia was knocked off by Alabama in the SEC Championship, due much in part to a 45-yard touchdown reception by Alabama freshman receiver Amari Cooper. When asked if he would be able to cover the receiver if the opportunity arose again, Fluker said he’d be ready.

    “Yeah, I’d stop him,” Fluker said. “Either I’m going to pick it, or he’s going to

get hit.”

    Former Wildcat and Northwestern Community College player Jibri Cole signed with Tuskegee University later in the afternoon.

— Tony Tsoukalas

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