December 15, 2007

Mississippi star does damage all over

MOBILE, Ala. - There needs to be a special practice jersey for Lucedale (Miss.) George County cornerback Alonzo Lawrence. During practice week for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game, Lawrence has been wearing a blue jersey along with the other Mississippi defenders while the offense has been donning red. But it seems unnecessary to pin him down to one side of the ball.

Lawrence will be starting at cornerback for the Mississippi team when it faces Alabama on Monday but don't be surprised to see him at wide receiver, punt returner and kick returner as well. Lawrence will feel right at home in that multi-purpose role. His versatile skill set led George County into the state championship game this season against South Panola and it would be hard to overstate the role that Lawrence played.

This season, the 6-foot-1 athlete had 30 catches for 720 yards, 81 tackles, two interceptions, six forced fumbles, two fumbles recovered for touchdowns, 20 total touchdowns, over 700 kickoff return yards and over 400 punt return yards. He looks pretty qualified for some double duty.

"Coach is supposed to play me on offense a lot," Lawrence said. "He's supposed to give me a little time. We've got four receivers but we don't really have any people to sub in for them. I hope I get into the end zone playing receiver. We've got some pretty good routes set up."

Though Lawrence projects as a cornerback on the next level, he prefers the offensive side of the ball.

"I like offense better than defense," he said. "But I'll play defense. I just like the game of football."

Though Lawrence enjoys offense, he will have added motivation this week to perform on the defensive side of the ball. He doesn't hide the fact that playing against Alabama's highly-touted wide receiver Julio Jones is something he has been looking forward to.

"I'm real excited because coach said I get to hold Julio Man up the whole game," he said. "I'm real excited. It's just another step before D-I."

"It means a lot to be able to play with all these all-stars. It makes you feel a little special to play with these guys from Mississippi. You got the best guys in Mississippi so it makes you feel real special."

Lawrence is a legacy in the annual all-star classic as his brother, junior Mississippi State wide receiver Co-Eric Riley also played in the game. Lawrence hopes to follow in his brother's footsteps by playing college football as well, but Mississippi State isn't necessarily the top school on his list.

"I'm getting offers from everybody," he said. "The offers are steady coming in. It's open for everybody. Alabama and Ole Miss are still on top right now but it's open for everybody."

Lawrence plans to take an official visit to Alabama in January and close out with visits to four more schools. As of right now, the other four visits he wants to take are Ole Miss, Miami, Tennessee and Mississippi State.

First things first for Lawrence though, and that is breaking a long losing streak for Mississippi in Monday's showdown, no matter what position he has to do it from.

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