Back who helped re­vive St. Martin wants D1 chance

The Sun Herald - - Front Page - BY PA­TRICK MAGEE [email protected]­her­ald.com Pa­trick Magee: 228-896-2333, @CoastCover­age.

HLYMAN am McGee has much of what you would ex­pect out of a Divi­sion I foot­ball prospect. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound run­ning back fin­ished his St. Martin High School ca­reer with 3,707 rush­ing yards and 34 touch­downs. He also caught 38 passes for 330 yards and four scores.

He’s an in­tel­li­gent back who played with the var­sity squad start­ing as a fresh­man, dis­play­ing good speed, quick moves and nice power for a back his size.

If the ball was in Ham’s hands, chances are some­thing good was go­ing to hap­pen.

How­ever, the Divi­sion I of­fers haven’t piled up for the gifted run­ning back.

McGee and sev­eral other Coast stars are pre­par­ing to don their high school hel­mets for the fi­nal time at 11:30 a.m. Satur­day in the Bernard Black­well Al­lS­tar Clas­sic at Mil­ner Sta­dium in Gulf­port.

While par­tic­i­pants like St. Martin of­fen­sive line­man Bran­don Cun­ning­ham (Mis­sis­sippi State) and Gulf­port quar­ter­back T.Q. New­some (South­ern Miss) have set­tled on their col­lege des­ti­na­tions, McGee is un­de­cided on where he’s headed.

South­ern Miss of­fered McGee in May of 2017, but his cur­rent of­fer list is made up of some of the state’s top junior col­lege pro­grams and one Divi­sion I school — In­di­ana State.

When McGee takes the field Satur­day in a game that will be tele­vised statewide by Mis­sis­sippi Pub­lic Broad­cast­ing, he hopes that he can grab the at­ten­tion of col­lege scouts.

“I’ve got the junior col­lege of­fers, but I’m look­ing for a Pac-12 or some­thing,” a smil­ing McGee said af­ter a prac­tice at Har­ri­son Cen­tral on Fri­day.

McGee badly wants to be given the op­por­tu­nity to play on col­lege foot­ball’s high­est level, and it’s about more than re­al­iz­ing his own dream.

“I don’t want to stress my­self, but it’s a real strong thought,” he said. “It’s some­thing I re­ally want to do. I want to make the peo­ple who have been on this jour­ney with me, make them happy. I want them to know this all wasn’t for no rea­son.”

Up to this point, McGee be­lieves many larger pro­grams have missed out out on the fact that he has a strong work ethic to match his solid skill set.

“I know I’m go­ing to go out there and work ev­ery day, ev­ery time on the field,” he said.

When In­di­ana State of­fered McGee in the mid­dle of Novem­ber, he was re­lieved to fi­nally have an­other Divi­sion I pro­gram de­liver some good news.

“That was a bless­ing. I thought it was over with,” McGee said.

In­di­ana State also of­fered McGee’s cousin, Ocean Springs run­ning back Micah Kelly, who will also play Satur­day.

If he suits up for a junior col­lege in 2019, McGee is anx­ious to make the most of the op­por­tu­nity like so many other Mis­sis­sip­pi­ans have on their way to even­tu­ally join­ing powerhouse col­lege pro­grams.

“I’m real de­ter­mined to get in there and do what I do,” McGee said. “I want to get where I need to be. That’s what it’s all about.”

McGee, who helped lead St. Martin to con­sec­u­tive play­off bids, is part of a South roster that’s loaded with some of the most tal­ented se­niors on the Coast. Dur­ing prac­tice this week, McGee has en­joyed tak­ing the field with play­ers he’s been go­ing to bat­tle against over the last four years.

“That makes me want to come out here and go hard, go­ing against good com­pe­ti­tion,” McGee said. “I’ve got to do ev­ery­thing I can ev­ery touch.”

BOBBY MCDUFFIE Spe­cial to the Sun Her­ald

St. Martin run­ning back Jo­vann “Ham” McGee, shown dur­ing a 2017 game at Pascagoula, ran for 34 touch­downs in his high school ca­reer.

TIM ISBELL Sun Her­ald file

Ham McGee has re­ceived two Divi­sion I of­fers – one from South­ern Miss be­fore his junior year, and one from In­di­ana State last month.

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