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Gardner Ready To Step Up



Former Starkville wide receivers Rapheal Leonard and AJ Brown set the state on fire the past couple of seasons with their big time plays and crazy statistics.

Leonard signed with FAU in 2015 and is now playing for East Mississippi while AJ Brown signed with Ole Miss earlier this month.

Starkville will look for young players to step up and fill the shoes left by Brown. One player that is excited to give it a shot is sophomore Cameron Gardner.

Gardner saw limited playing time this past season by made the most of his experience.

“It feels great to be a part of the team,” Gardner told SES Mississippi. “We're state champs, which makes me even more excited for next season so we can win it again.”

This offseason Gardner plans to attend the Fortius Project on April 30 at ICC along with teammates Willie Gay Jr., Ben Owens, Natrone Brooks and Jaquez Akins.

“I’m working on my route running and how to go hard on every play,” Gardner explained. “I want to learn the ins and outs of my preferred position of wide receiver or wherever the coaches need me to play.”

At 6-4, 220-pounds, can he be the next big time receiver to come out of Starkville? AJ Brown thinks it could happen.

“The potential is there,” Brown told SES Mississippi. “When he realizes what he has and what he can do, his life will change for the better.”

What did Gardner learn from being behind a player with as much talent and drive as AJ Brown?

“To just keep grinding during the offseason and to play hard,” Gardner said. “Have fun doing what you love doing and to play at the very best of your ability.”

Only time will tell if Gardner has what it takes to be the next big thing.

**Photo by Thomas Brown.


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