Are you ready for some football?

For college football fans, the talk officially starts this week with the annual Southeastern Conference Media gathering in Hoover, Ala., near Birmingham.

In the old days, sports writers got together and toured the Southeastern Conference on an airplane, flying from campus to campus.

There was no such thing as the Internet.

But today you have a happening where the SEC head coaches bring three of their players to a central location for interviews, etc.

A lot of fans also attend "media week?"

It will be big news this week.

Mississippi State shared time Tuesday morning with South Carolina.

Then Ole Miss will be on Thursday morning around 10 a.m., and representing the Rebels will be a very familiar face and name in former Philadelphia High School standout C.J. Johnson.

Johnson had two outstanding years at Ole Miss as the defensive end and got to start as a freshman and sophomore.

But last year, he suffered an ankle injury and played in only four games before undergoing surgery.

Now he's back. Johnson will be joining Ole Miss Head Coach Hugh Freeze, quarterback Bo Wallace and safety Cody Prewitt at SEC Media week.

That speaks volumes about what the Rebels think about him and the season they are counting on him to have.

And for those of us who have watched C.J. since his high school career at Philadelphia, it's no surprise we first heard about C.J. Johnson during his freshman year with the Tornadoes.

In a 0-0 game with Scott Central, he came up with a safety in the late stages of the game and the Tornadoes won 2-0.

In another year at Kosciusko, it was a close game until Johnson moved up on the Whippet's center and took over the game. Philadelphia won the game and I don't think Kosciusko was ever the same again.

In high school, he earned every honor, from Dandy Dozen to U.S. Army, Parade, PrepStar and SuperPrep All-America selection.

He played in the Mississippi-Alabama all-star game.

Ole Miss opens at home against Boise State on Aug. 28 and I'm looking forward to seeing C.J. Johnson back on the field, making a difference.

Talking prep football

This time next month, we'll be talking a lot about high school football.

It will be jamboree week and we'll have three good ones.

On Friday, Aug. 15, Union will play Newton County in a jamboree at Lake High School and Neshoba Central will be hosting Meridian High School.

Then on Saturday, Aug. 16, the Philadelphia Tornadoes will play in the Mississippi State jamboree at Aberdeen.

This one starts at 9 a.m.

The next week will be the start of the season as all five of the teams we at the Democrat cover, open their season. Neshoba Central, under new head coach Stacy Luker, play host to Newton County while Philadelphia hosts South Delta.

Choctaw Central will host Leake Central, Union hosts Nanih Waiya and Leake Academy hosts Copiah Academy.

Looks like we are in for another good football season. I can't wait.

Steve Swogetinsky is the sports editor of the Neshoba Democrat. Email him at