BATESVILLE – Tuesday morning was a big day for South Panola High School and its quarterback Derek Pegues.
Pegues received his jersey for being chosen to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, January 15, 2005.
Present were his parents Candace and Darren Fondren and Ezell and Jeanette Pegues along with other family and friends. Also his teammates, classmates, administration and football players from Pope and Batesville Jr. High were on hand for the ceremony in the gymnasium.
Representatives from Sportlink and the U.S. Army were on hand to make the presentation. U.S. Army Sgt. Beverly Flores made the official presentation of the jersey to Pegues.
Flores also presented head football coach Ricky Woods and his wife, Susan, tickets to attend the game.
Pegues thanked his classmates and teammates for help making this opportunity possible for him.
Woods expounded on the thanks and publicly complimented Pegues on his work.
"Derek is very deserving of this honor," Woods said. "He works very, very hard to accomplish his goals. This did not come easy. With his God-given athletic ability, he is in the weightroom and through hard work and dedication, he has got to this point in his life.
"He has made the coaching staff, administration, teammates of South Panola High School, teachers and the community of Batesville proud," Woods added.
It was first announced Pegues was the only Mississippi player chosen for this honor, but since the first announcement two more Mississippi players have been chosen to play in the game: center Josh McNeil of Collins and noseguard Jerrell Powe of Wayne County.
These three will will be among the best 78 high school football student-athletes in the country, according to a bowl news release.
"It is a great pleasure to have this fine young man [Pegues] selected to represent his school and community as a U.S. Army All-American," said Colonel Thomas Nickerson, director of strategic outreach for the U.S. Army Accessions Command. "He has proven himself to be a superior athlete and I know he will add an exciting dimension to January’s game.
"Our slogan, ?An Amy of One,’ recognizes the value of individual talents toward achieving team goals, and his talents make him a strong addition to this All-American team," Nickerson added. "This game will highlight his skills for a national audience and the Army is pleased to provide this opportunity to him and all the U.S. Army All-Americans."
Pegues is a standout quarterback and defensive back at South Panola High School and was one of 400 players nominated nationally and one of 78 selected to participate by Tom Lemming, a well-respected evaluator of prep football talent and contributor to ESPN Sports and USA Today, according to the news release.
"One of two top prospects in the state of Mississippi, Derek is a Nebraska type QB on offense who will wind up playing cornerback in college. Derek shows great speed, balance and command. As a quarterback he is a leader who gets the job done with his arm and with his feet. He ?s a difference maker who is a dominating high school ball player," Lemming said in the news release.
Pegues also has the potential to be named a finalist for the Ball Park National High School Player-of-the-Year award honoring the nation’s best prep football player at the 2005 U.S. Army All-American Award Dinner on January 14, 2005, in San Antonio. The Ken "Sugarland Express" Hal Trophy is the equivalent of the high school Heisman Trophy and is named after record-setting running back Ken Hall of Sugarland, Texas.
"We’re excited about our sponsorship of such a worthwhile award," said Deborah Sabo, director of marking for Ball Park. "This honor rewards the core principles within high school football that we have her at Ball Park – excellence and quality."
Also given out at the U.S. Army all-American Awards Dinner will be the Myoplex Speed and Strength Athlete-of-the-year Award. This first-year award will be bestowed upon the nation’s fastest, strongest and most dedicated high school football player. The trophy presented to the winner will be set in the likeness of NFL great, Walter Payton.
"Speed and strength are the keys to success on the field," said Heather Fitzgerald, marking director for Myoplex. "And the keys to developing speed and strength are hard work in the gym and proper nutrition. We’ve helped elite NFL players improve their nutrition for more than a decade. With this award, we hope to show the nation’s top high school football players the role proper nutrition plays in reaching their goals."
The winning team of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl will receive the Herman Boone Trophy named after the legendary Virginia high school football coach who was immortalized in the Disney feature film, Remember the Titans. Also, the game?s most valuable player (MVP) will receive the Pete Dawkins MVP Trophy named after the 1958 Heisman Trophy winner.
Kickoff is set for noon CDT in the Alamodome. NBC plans a live telecast.
Players are encouraged to announce their college choices at the game. National Signing Day is Feb. 2.