• John Macon Gillespie

STRONGER Award: D'Jordan Strong

A large contingent of South Panola Tigers made their way to the ICC campus for the Fortius Project this past Saturday. Rising junior two-way player D’jordan Strong was in that group, but he stood out. In fact, he stood out more than any other competitor at the camp, taking home the Stronger Award.

He performed well in the three testing events, but it was the competition portion where he was unbelievable. His ability to perform at a high level on both sides of the ball returned rave reviews. He says winning the MVP honor fuels him to want to repeat this success more going forward.

“My broad jump and me being able to come out and play offense and defense,” Strong said when asked what he felt set him apart as the MVP. “It just makes me more humbled and makes me want to take home more awards.”

Following the action, just prior to the dishing out of awards, President of SES and founder of the Fortius Project, gave a message to the competitors. It was about doing what they do for the people who helped them be able to do what they love in the first place. Strong was thankful for the opportunity to show his skills, but mostly the was thankful for two people responsible for getting him there.

“I’m blessed to have had the chance to show my abilities,” He said. “And thankful that coach Pope took the time to take me and my teammates. And thankful for my mom and aunt signing me up.”

“It was a great experience for me and my teammates. I had a great time competing against guy I’ve never played before. Catching passes from my quarterback Patrick(Shegog) and Starkville quarterback Ben Owen was great.”

Though he felt he could have run better in the 40-yard dash, he was just glad to share the event with his teammates. It was easy to see how close the guys from USP were. That’s something he sees as a benefit.

“We are very close. All of us motivate each other and we never settle for the least, Strong told SES Mississippi.

Also benefitting his teammates and him is the fact that some of the guys they went against at Fortius are guys they will see again. That was the part that stood out most to him.

“The competition stood out. I loved going with the best defensive backs that were out there. It helped me to get better as a player and person. I’m taking the fact that I will see guys from the camp against and that I know what’s coming my way so I’ll be prepared for it,” He explained.

Losing to Madison Central in the opening round of the playoffs last Fall was a tough pill for Strong and his teammates to swallow. So naturally, the Tigers are hungry to not experience that sort of loss again in 2016. In addition to being a go-to option on offense, he’s also going to play some defense to help out. This spring he’s been focused on preparing to achieve his goals for next season.

“It was a learning process coming back from a horrible ending last season,” He stated. “This spring I’m focused on being the leader of the wide receiver group. I’m trying to get everybody as many reps as we can, so we won’t be in any tough situations. I had to learn how to play defense very fast because I plan to be the best free safety in my class.”

Strong is expecting to make an impact on both sides of the ball this Fall and he’s changing his number to fit his role.

“I’m planning on wearing number 11 because Nick Brassell wore it and people compare us a lot,” Strong explained.

“I want to make a big impact on the offense and how we mix the passing game with the run game, which is something my school isn’t used to doing. It will be fun. On the defensive side, we have a strong front seven. In the secondary me and Garrian Key are looking forward to taking advantage of the chances the quarterback gives us.”

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