FULTON, Miss. - Ashton Shumpert has no intention of ignoring his neighbors. They certainly won't ignore him.
The athlete prospect from Fulton (Miss.) Itawamba Agricultural has shown strong recent interest in the two SEC schools just right around the bend: Ole Miss and Mississippi State. The four-star Shumpert will visit Starkville on Saturday when the Bulldogs host Tennessee. Shumpert visited Oxford for the Rebels' 30-27 loss against Texas A&M.
"I got down there about an hour before the game," said Shumpert, who is rated as the No. 242 prospect in the nation, the 26th best safety and fourth-best prospect in Mississippi. "Went down to the field and watched them warm up. It was a great game."
Ole Miss' coaches made time to visit with Shumpert during that time despite a game pending. When asked about the Rebels' coaches, led by first-year head coach Hugh Freeze, Shumpert said, "It's a real good coaching staff. Coach Freeze is a good Christian coach. He's a good leader too."
Given his recruiting stature, Shumpert will get the same, warm welcome from Mississippi State's coaches this weekend. That makes for an interesting in-state battle lining up for Shumpert. Proximity shouldn't play a factor. According to Mapquest.com, Shumpert's hometown is about 73 miles from Oxford and 88 miles from Starkville.
"I'm not going to say it's a big factor," Shumpert said smiling when asked about proximity, "because Mississippi State is just about 10-15 more minutes away."
Shumpert said he is planning a trip to Nashville to inspect Vanderbilt, but isn't sure when he'll take the visit. Shumpert spoke highly of a visit to Georgia last month. All of his visits have been unofficial, so he'll still have five official visits to take. Shumpert is being recruited as a defensive back and tailback, depending on the school.