SHS cornerback Stallings believes he fits UT-Martin

Starkville High School cornerback Alexis Stallings looks to make a play against West Point earlier this season.

Staff Writer

A couple of weeks after Starkville High School defensive back Myles Stone made a commitment to play football at Louisiana-Monroe, another member of the stout Yellow Jacket secondary is getting an opportunity on the next level.

Cornerback Alexis Stallings made the call for the University of Tennessee-Martin on Saturday. The Skyhawks have had success with players inside the state of Mississippi and have challenged some big-time teams over the years, including Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Stallings wanted to be a part of that.

“When I went down there, I had a good feeling about it," Stallings said. "I like (defensive backs coach Dominique Bowman) and how they do things in the secondary is similar to how we do things. It’s a good program. It’s not an SEC program, but I can make things work and stick out up there.”

Stallings was being recruited by most of the junior colleges in the state, Mississippi Valley State, Memphis and Southern Miss. The difference was the way he said he felt he was treated by UT Martin and head coach Jason Simpson, who was a former quarterback and baseball player at Mississippi State in the early 1990’s as well as Southern Miss. Simpson has been at UT Martin for the past 12 seasons and built the program well.

For Stallings, he will head to UT Martin with experience already under his belt playing at a high level. He’s been a three-year starter for the Yellow Jackets and has developed a reputation of a defender that offenses don’t want to test.

As a sophomore, Stallings had 26 tackles and seven pass deflections. He finished with 24 tackles, a tackle for loss and an interception last season but has become one of Starkville’s top defensive back tacklers this season with 17 stops in just four games and already four pass deflections.

His defensive coordinator believes that this is only the beginning for the 6-0, 175-pound defensive back.

“To me, he’s a complete corner," SHS defensive coordinator Kevie Thompson said. "He can run and he’s a fast, physical corner. Our defensive backs are a talented group and the sky is the limit for them. Their capabilities are really high. Alexis is a player that does exactly what he’s asked to do and is good in zone or man (defense). I think we do a good job of putting them in position to succeed and they do a good job of putting it into action.”