Friends and former teammates Jonathan Mingo and Will Rogers making Brandon High School proud
OXFORD, Miss. – If fans are a bit jealous of Brandon High School after last week, it is understandable.
The Southeastern Conference Co-Offensive Players of the Week were Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers and wide receiver Jonathan Mingo of Ole Miss. Not that long ago, those guys were teammates playing for the Brandon Bulldogs.
Since going their separate ways, one to Starkville, one to Oxford, each has made a mark in the SEC. Rogers’ 2110 yards passing leads the conference and Mingo leads the league with 507 yards receiving.
Each has also made a mark on his respective college’s record book.
After his performance last week in a 40-17 win over Arkansas, Rogers now owns the conference career record in completions with 946, passing former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray’s former record of 921. Rogers set the mark in just 28 career games while it took Murray 52 games to achieve his total.
In the Ole Miss 52-28 win over Vanderbilt last week, Mingo had 247 yards receiving to top the single-game school record set by Elijah Moore.
“Congratulations to Jonathan Mingo with the receiving record,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said.
“I think that’s really cool for a guy who has been here a long time, never complains about catches or playing time. It’s awesome to use those stories with the team this morning for guys to understand there’s something to just working really hard and doing all the little things like you did to spring another touchdown run by blocking a linebacker. Glad for him.”
Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin
Mississippi State coach Mike Leach was equally proud of Rogers’ record but took exception to some people calling him a system quarterback in MSU’s air-raid offense.
“The dink-and-dunk label I just think that every time I hear that I just, that says more about the person that refers to it as that thing that does, it’s the air raid really,” Leach said. “Well, the whole NFL doesn’t seem to think it’s dink and dunk, I mean that’s why they’re all running air-raid concepts,” Leach added.
The fact each player is successful should not be a shocker.
The one thing that could boggle some people’s minds is how good could Mingo and Rogers have been together at the college level. The pair put in hours of work as high schoolers in Brandon.
“His dad was the offensive coordinator, so his dad had me practicing with the high school team in like seventh grade,” Mingo said.
“So, I was probably practicing with Will probably since like ninth grade. Every Sunday of my sophomore year on to his freshman year we would just throw every Sunday after a football game, we continue the tradition all the way until we graduated.”
Jonathan Mingo on how far back he goes with Will Rogers
That bond remains even though each plays on different ends of the Mississippi football spectrum.
“We talk pretty much every day,” Mingo said.
“So, it was a cool experience sharing the SEC honors with him. Me and him played in high school, to him trying to recruit me to Mississippi State. Me going into my junior year in high school, he was committed, he committed before I signed to Ole Miss, so he was trying to convince me to go there, but I had to take my own path, so it was pretty cool to have that experience with him.”
Although Mingo and Rogers have moved on, Brandon High School has been able to carry on without them. The Bulldogs are 6-0, 3-0 in the district, including a season-opening win against Oxford High School.
Brandon plays at Meridian Friday.
A day later, Rogers will lead State into Lexington for a battle with Kentucky as Mingo and the Rebels host Auburn in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.