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SMITH COLUMN: Football, soccer keeps Starkville athletes at home

February 6, 2013

Smith

It was a big day for Starkville athletics on Wednesday.

When the two high school schools in town can deliver a pair of athletes to Mississippi State on the same day, it's a big deal.

Starkville High School's Gabe Myles signed to play football for the Bulldogs, then about an hour later, right across the street basically, Starkville Academy's Tiffany Huddleston put her name on paper to play soccer at MSU.

Both Myles and Huddleston grew up supporting the Bulldogs, so being able to sign with Mississippi State seemed like the right thing to do.

Even though his father Eddie was a defensive back for the Bulldogs, Gabe looks forward to having his own experience.

"Yeah, my dad was a great athlete there, but now it's my turn to have some fun," Gabe said. "I considered other schools, but after growing up and following Mississippi State, it's home to me. I was a Bulldog since I can remember."

Myles will probably remember Huddleston as well, but it's not on the football or soccer field, but on the baseball field. The two played Little League baseball in Starkville at the same time.

"I haven't seen him in years, but I know we used to play when I played with the boys," Huddleston said. "I'm pumped that another Starkville native is going to be at State. It does a lot for our hometown."

Like Myles, Huddleston has followed Mississippi State since she was young. She committed to the Bulldogs when she was a sophomore.

There's no denying the athletic ability that Huddleston possesses and it will be interesting to see her put that to use as a member of the MSU soccer team.

Huddleston knows there will be a transition period to Division I soccer, but is anxious to get started.

There's a little unfinished business left with the Lady Volunteers as the basketball season continues. Still undefeated at 33-0, Starkville Academy looks to duplicating the State championship run it had last year. Huddleston should be a big part of that.

The Lady Vols have senior night on Friday and it's sure to be a special time for Huddleston and the other SA seniors.

Back to Myles, there should be an opportunity for him to progress quickly and earn playing time early for the Bulldogs.

MSU loses defensive backs Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay from last year's team and has some holes to fill in the secondary.

Myles was a valuable quarterback for coach Jamie Mitchell and the Yellowjackets. He is the type of athlete that should be able to make the transition to the defensive backfield much like Banks did when he came out of East Webster. Banks was known for being a talented quarterback for the Wolverines and we all know what he was able to accomplish with the Bulldogs.

It was nice to see Banks progress from a local high school to college. Now we get a chance to watch Myles and Huddleston do the same.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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