DCS’ “Dandy Half-Dozen”

Cameron Threatt of Lewisburg High School

DCS’ “Dandy Half-Dozen”

     Each year the Memphis Commercial Appeal selects the Dandy Dozen, “a collection of the top 12 college football prospects for the Class of 2020 from the Mid-South as picked by the newspaper.” The Jackson Clarion Ledger also has a Dandy Dozen list of the 12 best football players in Mississippi.

     This year five of the 12 picks from the Commercial Appeal and two of the 12 picks from the Clarion Ledger were from DeSoto County Schools. One student, Xavier Hill, was on both lists.  They represent Lewisburg High, Southaven High, Olive Branch High, and Horn Lake High Schools.  While they are great representatives of DeSoto County Schools, their coaches all said they are young men who take care of their academics as well as their athletics.  Meet DeSoto County Schools “Dandy Half-Dozen.”

     #11 Cameron Threatt—Lewisburg High School

     An interest in football developed when Cameron was four-years-old. 

     “My parents have been very supportive of my interests in sports,” he said.  “They let me start in the Olive Branch City League football at four and have made it possible for me to play soccer, basketball, baseball, and track.  I have really played football all my life.”

     This 6’1” 160 lb. player grew up in the Lewisburg schools.  LHS Head Football Coach Matt Gehrke said he noticed Cameron in the 8th grade when he was at a track competition running the 800-meter hurdles. 

      “He finished the race two hurdles ahead of the others.  I knew he had talent,” Coach Gehrke said.  “I later found out he also had a lot of internal drive and work ethic.”

     This cornerback plans to graduate from LHS in December and enroll at Mississippi State University for the spring semester."

     “I want to hit the weight room and learn the playbook.”

     Cameron plans to major in business with hopes of pursuing a career in sports administration.

     #10 Kahlil Benson—Southaven High School

     At 6’6” and 325 lbs., Kahlil is an imposing offensive tackle who has committed to Ole Miss.

     “I wanted to get it done, so I could focus on my education and senior season at Southaven High,” he said.  “I also wanted to stay close to home, so if my mother needs something, I can be nearby.”

     Kahlil has attended Southaven area schools since first grade.   A student ambassador for SHS, Kahlil said, “How I stand out as a person is as important to me as how I stand out in athletics.”

     SHS Head Coach John Stevenson said while Kahlil loves to compete, he is the first person to help wherever he is needed.

     In addition to football, Kahlil is on the SHS track team and throws the shot put.

     His long-range goals are to major in criminal justice at Ole Miss, and possibly work for the FBI.

     Kahlil said he learned early in life not to listen to naysayers who told him he would never play football at a major university.  And what does he say now?

     With confidence of a true champion, he responded, “Well, I’m here.”

     #9 Caleb Offord—Southaven High School

     Tall and slim at 6’1”, Caleb said he was surprised when he got a telephone call from the University of Notre Dame.

     “Their coaches follow me on Twitter. They asked if they came to Southaven, could we set up a workout on a Saturday,” he said.  “Two of their assistant coaches came and watched me through a workout and made a video.  A couple of days later, they called and said I had earned a place on their team.”

     The next step was to visit the Notre Dame campus, known for being one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation.

     The Golden Dome on the main building and a mural known as “Touchdown Jesus” made quite an impression.

     “I am a Christian.  When I saw the 14-story mural of Jesus on the north end zone of the stadium,   it made quite an impact,” said Caleb.

     SHS Coach John Stevenson said, “Caleb has great athletic skills, and great ball skills.  His long arms enable him to catch the ball.”  

     Caleb and Kahlil said their long-term friendship encouraged them to set goals for themselves and each other.  They grew up playing together and knew early on that they both had physical gifts.

     “We have stayed in the Word and done what our parents told us to do,” Caleb said.  “A lot of people said we wouldn’t make it—but we are, and we are blessed.”

     #8 Xavier Hill—Olive Branch High School

     Xavier, a left tackle, plans to attend the University of Alabama.  He was listed in both the Commercial Appeal’s Dandy Dozen and The Clarion Ledger’s Dandy Dozen as one of the 12 best football players in Mississippi.

     “I went to Alabama on junior day,” said the 6’4” 320 lb. senior. “As I waited to meet the best coach in football, I was very nervous.  I remember having butterflies in my stomach.  Coach Nick Saban walked into the room and was all business.  He crossed his arms and told me I have an opportunity to play for Alabama.”

     “When you are around Coach Saban, you have to really be on your toes,” he added.

     OBHS Tyler Turner said Xavier is known for “finishing blocks and for his explosive movements.”

     Until his sophomore year, Xavier considered basketball as his sport of choice.  Coach Turner changed that by introducing him to his weight room and assigning him a practice partner, Fabien Lovett, now a football player at Mississippi State University.

     “I have watched Xavier grow in the classroom and on the field. He has a strong work ethic,” Coach Turner added. “Working out with Fabien was a great experience for him and helped him develop quickly. Xavier already had the physical gifts.”

     Xavier had other scholarship offers from Tennessee, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, LSU, and Florida. He has attended Olive Branch Schools since 8th grade.  He says he plans to take culinary classes with hopes of becoming a top chef.

     Jevon Banks—Olive Branch High School

     Jevon Banks from Olive Branch High School joined his teammate Xavier Hill in The Clarion Ledger's Dandy Dozen.

     Jevon plays outside linebacker and has committed to Mississippi State University. He hopes to become a defensive lineman for MSU.

     This 6’2” 270 lb.  senior is known for his physical strength. 

      “Jevon squats over 500 lbs. and power cleans 300 lbs.,” Coach Turner said.  “He is an explosive kid.  I don’t think he has ever had a bad day of practice.  As he has gotten bigger and stronger, I have seen him develop confidence in the position he is playing.”

     Deciding to play for Mississippi State was an easy choice for him.

     “I wanted the opportunity to play for Head Coach Joe Moorhead.” Jevon said.  

     “When you watch film from our games, Jevon and Xavier stand out.  Both are well-disciplined players and great kids,” Coach Turner said.

     #4 Josaih Hayes—Horn Lake High School

     Josaih knows how winning feels.  He was a defensive lineman for Horn Lake High School when they won the 6A MHSAA football state championship last season.  He plans to attend Ole Miss.

     “I hope I can help get Ole Miss back to their winning days,” he said.

     “I think Coach Matt Luke will help me develop as a player and as a man,” Josaih said. “I also feel like I will have a shot to play as a freshman.”   

     Josaih, a 6’2” 296 lb. senior, has been a starter since his sophomore year in high school.

     He credits a lot of his success to Head Coach Brad Boyette.

     “Coach Boyette is a good, caring coach.  He takes the time to know you,” Josaih said.

     Other schools offered Josaih scholarships, including Mississippi State, Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Kentucky, Tennessee, Memphis, Oregon, Oklahoma, Southern Mississippi, and Florida.  

 

Planning for success