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Memphis Writer Takes Twitter Swipe At MSU’s Ray

First-year Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray has been through the wringer this season.  His team endured a 13-game losing streak before finishing the season with two wins in three games.  The Bulldogs were 9-21 overall and 4-14 in SEC play.  Ray inherited a paper thin roster and his own no-nonsense approach further whittled away at his bench as he handed down a pair of suspensions midseason.

The man lived through as much of a nightmare season as a coach can face, yet — with a win over Auburn on Saturday — he still managed to guide his team out of the Southeastern Conference basement.  You take victories where you can find them after a miserable regular season and that’s just what Ray did with an early-morning tweet yesterday:

 

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Now, it’s probably not the best idea for a college coach to post something like that.  Even if ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan did say his team was the worst in SEC history earlier this season.  By tweeting about it, Ray was literally asking for a response.

Naturally, he got one.  But not from Brennan or from a fan.  Instead it came from Memphis Commercial-Appeal sportswriter Ron Higgins:

 

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You can guess what happened next.  Yep, MSU fans lit into Higgins who responded with another roundhouse kick to Ray’s chops:

 

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Wisely, Ray ended the back-and-forth:

 

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Now why Higgins chose to jump Ray’s case is anyone’s guess.  Did Ray nix a scheduled interview?  Did he cut Higgins off while driving?  Or is Higgins just a pal of ESPN’s Brennan?

Whatever the reason, this little back-and-forth between a coach and a sportswriter on Twitter is unusual in the SEC.  Especially considering the fact that Higgins writes a “Traditions” column for the league’s official website, SECSports.com.

 

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Forward King Commits To Memphis

Forward Nick King from Memphis (Tenn.) East High School has committed to Memphis.

King considered Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Texas.

“I have a great relationship with the (Memphis) staff,” King told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “They have been recruiting me since ninth-grade year when coach (Josh) Pastner came in. Then (assistant) coach (Damon) Stoudamire came in, and it just built a better relationship. I feel great about it, and I have a great relationship with the players.”

King is ranked the nation’s No. 7 small forward by ESPNU.

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Memphis Whitehaven Duo Chooses SEC

Memphis (Tenn.) Whitehaven High School juniors Mark Dodson and Gerald Perry both announced on Monday they’ll play in the SEC.

Dodson, a running back, committed to Ole Miss while Perry gave his pledge to play wide receiver at Vanderbilt. Many, including Dodson and Perry, wondered if they would choose the same school. In the end, the two players had different interests.

“Ever since we were little, we talked about going to the same school and playing together at the same college,” Perry told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “I guess things don’t always work out like you want them to, but I know Mark’s gonna do well down at Ole Miss, and I know I’m gonna do good at Vanderbilt. Hopefully when we play against each other, it’ll be like nothing’s different.”

Both Dodson and Perry chose programs that are in the early stages of a new era. Vanderbilt coach James Franklin is coming off a successful first season in Nashville while Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze is preparing for his opening season in Oxford.

Dodson was intrigued by the idea of playing in Freeze’s new offense.

“I see the program is on the rise,” Dodson said. “It’s gonna take a year or two, but the recruiting class is shaping up very well. You just have to be patient.”

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Memphis Duo Sets Announcement Date

Running back Mark Dodson Jr. and athlete Gerald Perry from Memphis (Tenn.) Whitehaven High School will announce their college decisions on May 14.

Dodson will choose among Arkansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt while Perry is considering Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, Memphis and Arkansas State.

Dodson told the Memphis Commercial Appeal there’s a “50-50 chance” that he and Perry will choose the same school.

Both Dodson and Perry should be able to help on the offensive side of the ball, according to Whitehaven coach Rodney Saulsberry.

“Gerald has extreme speed,” Saulsberry said. “Speed is something you can’t coach. He’s a speed-burner. Speed is what he brings.”

And what does Dodson bring?

“Mark truly is an all-purpose back,” Saulsberry said. “He does it all. He’s able to run inside and outside, he can catch the ball out of the backfield, and he’s very durable. He can carry the load. He’s all that wrapped into one.”

And both players will be down to one school on May 14.

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Five-Star Stokes Chooses Tennessee

Tennessee basketball coach Cuonzo Martin landed his first elite recruit on Thursday when Memphis, Tenn., forward Jarnell Stokes committed to the Vols.

Stokes, who’s considered a five-star prospect and the nation’s 11th-best player by Rivals.com, chose Tennessee over Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky and Memphis.

“I have spent a lot of time in prayer about what to do and I believe that the University of Tennessee is the right place for me,” Stokes said, according to ESPN.com. “I am excited about the future at Tennessee. I am going to work as hard as I can to fit in with my teammates and learn the system as quickly as I can to help the team.”

And Stokes plans to help Tennessee right away. He’s eligible to enroll in college next month and will be available to play for the Vols when the spring semester begins on Jan. 11.

I’m ready to play,” he told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “I’m not going to lie. I’m going to be pushing to play.”

How significant is Stokes’ commitment for Tennessee? Mike Griffith of the Knoxville News Sentinel explains.

Memphis was considered at a time to be a favorite to land Stokes, but the Tigers were at a disadvantage because they don’t have an athletic scholarship available this season. Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com wrote this week that NCAA rules would not allow Stokes to play this season as a “recruited walk-on.”

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Athlete Redmond Chooses Mississippi State

Athlete Will Redmond from Memphis (Tenn.) East High School committed to Mississippi State on Monday.

Redmond chose Mississippi State over Tennessee.

It was a real hard decision,” Redmond told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “I talked to (State) coach (Dan) Muller and he talked a lot about family. I went down there Thursday and there was just something about it.”

Mississippi State had an advantage over Tennessee because of Starkville’s proximity to Memphis.

“I’m the kind of guy where I want to come home (for the weekend) on a Friday,” said Redmond, who’s considered the nation’s 30th-best athlete by Rivals.com. “It’s only 2 1/2 hours away. And my mom can come see me play.”

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Vanderbilt Commit: We’re Going For An SEC Championship

Josh Dawson believed Vanderbilt was the right school for him when he committed to the Commodores during a visit to Nashville on June 19.

Any doubts the defensive end from Tucker (Ga.) High School might have had were settled by Vanderbilt’s current roster of players.

“They were just telling me I made a great decision and that I’m going to be part of something special and part of a big turnaround in college football,” Dawson told MrSEC.

How big of a turnaround?

“We’re going to go for an SEC championship,” Dawson said. “I think we can make a run for it.”

Dawson chose Vanderbilt over schools that have already competed for conference championships. He said he took visits to Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Central Florida.

Prospects don’t typically choose Vanderbilt over schools at that level. Dawson said the recruiting effort of first-year coach James Franklin helped convince him to choose the Commodores.

“His passion for football and how he felt committed to turn the program around,” Dawson said of Franklin’s influence. “Vanderbilt was really on me.”

Dawson plans to be on several recruits, too. He said he has already spoken to prospects around the Southeast about the direction of Vanderbilt’s program.

“I’ll try to recruit the best people to go to Vanderbilt so we can try to win an SEC championship,” Dawson said. “We need to work hard.”

That work could pay off on Friday when three players announce their college decision. Defensive end Caleb Azubike, wide receiver Cory Batey and running back Brian Kimbrow are all expected to choose Vanderbilt when they announce their decisions in Nashville. That would push Vanderbilt’s commitment total to 11 prospects for 2012.

Kimbrow, who’s ranked the No. 1 prospect in the state of Tennessee by 247Sports.com, would be Vanderbilt’s highest-rated commitment for the 2012 class.

“I’m just looking for somewhere that’s comfortable for me,” Kimbrow told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “Someplace that’s a good fit.”

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Basketball Standout To Choose Thursday

Forward Adonis Thomas from Memphis (Tenn.) Melrose High School will announce his college choice on Thursday, according to multiple reports, including the Memphis Commercial Appeal and Knoxville News Sentinel.

Thomas is considering Memphis, Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee and UCLA.

Rivals.com ranks Thomas the nation’s sixth-best small forward and 15th-best prospect overall for 2011.

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