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NFL in town

Deshea Townsend is the headline speaker for the Boys and Girls Club Steak and Steak Banquet Thursday night. The Panolian photo by Angie Ledbetter

NFL players to highlight banquet

By Myra Bean
The NFL comes to Batesville this week to help out a worthy cause.

In support of the Boys and Girls Club, Super Bowl XV Champion Deshea Townsend of the Pittsburgh Steelers is the special guest speaker at the Steak and Steak banquet Thursday night.

Townsend, a native of Batesville, is a long time supporter of the Club. He plays cornerback for the Steelers and has just completed his 10th year in the league. Townsend signed a four-year contract with the Steelers in 2006. He was a fourth rounded draft pick by Pittsburgh in 1998.

During his tenure as a Steeler, Townsend, 32, earned the starting right cornerback position he has held for three and a half years.

He has logged 407 total tackles of which 353 are solo tackles, 54 assisted tackles, 15.5 sacks, five tackles for 23 loss yards, five forced fumbles, 18 interceptions for 164 yards and two returned for touchdowns. He has defended 104 passes – the most this past season of 16.

Townsend led the South Panola Tigers to the 1993 State Championship and played college football at the University of Alabama.

Another South Panola and Alabama standout to attend the banquet is Dwayne Rudd. Rudd is retired from the NFL and spent six years playing with the Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneeers, 1997-2003. Rudd shares the NFL record (with many players) both for the most total fumble recoveries for touchdowns in a season and the most opponent fumble recoveries for touchdowns in a season, with two apiece.

Rudd was the No. 20 first round pick by the Vikings in 1997.

Tillman Ballentine will make an appearance. Ballentine is a South Panola standout and played at Mississippi Valley State University. He is awaiting draft day from the Developmental Football League in Los Angles June 16 and 17. Ballentine currently serves as a coach and teacher at Batesville Jr. High.

Also scheduled to be in attendance is Super Bowl XVII Champion cornerback Kevin Dockery of the New York Giants. He is an alumni of Mississippi State from Memphis and wears the No. 35. He has been in the NFL for two years and logged 46 total tackles for 2007, 31 solo.

He has two career interceptions for 100 yards and one touchdown and 16 career pass deflections.

Defensive tackle DelJuan Robinson signed with the Houston Texans on December 26 and is expected to be in attendance. He is 6’3” and weighs 296 pounds. He attended Mississippi State and wears the No. 66.

Curtis Weathers spent seven years in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns, 1979 to 1985. He played linebacker and tight end. He is originally from Memphis and played at the University of Mississippi.

Former Ole Miss quarterback Romero Miller is also scheduled to be in attendance. Former South Panola and Ole Miss linebacker Eddie Strong has been invited, but his schedule may not allow him to appear.

Also invited is Ellis Wyms who just agreed to terms with the Minnesota Vikings on March 17. He is a native of Indianola and played at Mississippi State. The 28-year-old defensive tackle was a sixth round draft picked by Tampa Bay in 2001. He has 131 career tackles, 98 solo, 16.5 career sacks, four forced fumbles and four pass deflections.

SEC Official William Correro and his wife Julie will serve as emcees.

The banquet is 6:30 p.m. Thursday night at the Batesville Civic Center. Tickets are $50 and still available. Business and individuals may also buy a table for $400. For more information, call the Boys and Girls Club at (662) 578-7309.