The early signing period for college football delivered another batch of former Starkville High School players to four-year schools, including four headed to Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena.
Wide receivers Cameron Hines and Tonorris Brookins II are both joining the Delta Devils from East Mississippi Community College, where Hines played nine games last season with 11 receptions for 138 yards. His best game came against Southwest Mississippi, when he caught three passes for 57 yards.
The 6-foot, 180-pound Hines, who signed with Jackson State out of high school, tweeted “Back to the SWAC, just in a different uniform!” as he announced his return to the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
“I coached him one year,” Starkville football coach Chris Jones said. “He’s super fast, very athletic. His quickness impressed me.”
Brookins played in three games in his single season with the Lions, catching eight passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns. He had three receptions for 77 yards against East Central and three for 62 and two touchdowns against Southwest Mississippi.
“He signed with Valley, transferred to Mississippi College, then EMCC,” said Jones, who said Brookins was a “workaholic” with good size at 6-1, 205.
Joining Hines and Brookins in Itta Bena will be former Yellow Jackets Cameron Gardner and Abdural Lee Jr.
Gardner, a wide receiver, played three seasons at Mississippi State, accumulating 117 yards on 13 receptions.
“I coached him for one season,” Jones said. “He’s a big kid, always ran well. And a straight-A student.”
Lee played the past two years at Copiah-Lincoln Community College as a defensive back. This past season, Lee finished with 91 tackles, including 48 solo, 3 tackles-for-loss, 3 pass breakups and an interception.
Lee played at Starkville before Jones became the head coach.
“He was out of football for a couple of years,” Jones said. “He was here when they won a championship.”
As a sophomore on the 2015 Yellow Jackets team that went 14-1 and won the MHSAA Class 6A title, Lee was second on the team in tackles (84), solo tackles (54) and tackles-for-loss (18).
Two other Starkville High School alums who played at EMCC are ticketed for NCAA Division II schools.
Kel Williams, a 5-10, 180-pound defensive back who also played at Northwestern State, has signed to play at the University of West Alabama in Livingston.
Williams was part of an outstanding Lions defense, contributing 30 solo tackles, 13 tackle assists, a sack, an interception and a fumble recovery. He will be joining a Tigers team that went 6-4 in 2021, including 4-3 in the Gulf South Conference.
“He’s probably one of the best athletes I’ve ever coached,” said Jones, noting Williams played several positions with the Starkville defense. “He even returned punts. There was one game when he had three interceptions.”
Jordan Boatman, who transferred from Holmes Community College to EMCC, is headed to Clinton to play at Mississippi College. The Choctaws, also members of the Gulf South Conference, went 4-6 this past season with a 2-5 league mark. The 6-foot, 300-pound Boatman is an offensive lineman.
“He’s a really good kid,” Jones said. “Great attitude, good in school, hard worker. He’s super strong. The only thing stopping him from being in the Power 5 is a lack of height.”
The early signing period ended last week, but athletes will be able to sign with NCAA schools during the traditional signing period in February.