Brandon (Miss.) High School linebacker Tayler Polk knows he will be hard-pressed to reach the numbers he produced on defense last year. So the 2013 prospect plans to increase his numbers in other areas of his game.
The 6-foot and 215-pound Polk led the state last year with 219 tackles, averaging over 18 tackles a game.
"It's going to be tough to repeat that same number of tackles and I know that," said Polk. "But I want to step it up on my sacks and tackles for loss. What I'm really looking to improve on is those big plays instead of just tackles. My focus is just on making bigger plays this year to help the defense."
This offseason, Polk managed to tour several college camps but a minor knee injury kept him from going full-speed at most camps. Owning offers from Northwestern (La.) State and Alabama State, Polk said he is nearly 100 percent now and anxious to get his senior season started on Friday night.
"I thought the summer went well," Polk said. "I went to Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Louisiana Tech, Arkansas State and Southern Miss. I didn't do anything at Ole Miss because of the knee injury I had in the spring. I was able to do some stuff at Mississippi State and Arkansas State, though, and did some work in the 1-on-1's and individual drills.
"I am about 100 percent now, too. I had a partial PCL tear in March so I just wanted to be cautious with it this summer and not take any chances. But I am ready to go now and ready to turn loose."
Polk noted he is also hearing from several Division I programs, including the Bulldogs of the SEC Western Division.
"Mississippi State, Arkansas State and Louisiana Tech are showing me the most interest among schools that haven't offered yet," Polk said. "Ole Miss was some at first and then Southern Miss has shown me interest on and off. I've also been getting some mail from Alabama and Memphis, too.
"Mississippi State said they love the way I play and I've talked with Coach (Dan) Mullen a good bit and also with Coach (Greg) Knox."
With his height, Polk said he understands the drawbacks that some college programs may have when looking at linebacker prospects. But he said he just wants to prove his worth again on the field this year.
"It does surprise me I don't have more offers but at the same time it doesn't surprise me," said Polk. "I don't think there is another linebacker in the state that plays like I do. But I do understand why some are hesitant to offer me and it is hard to take a chance on my lack of height.
"Mississippi State has said they like my play on the field and said it's only my size that concerns them. But they told me to just see how it goes in my senior year. I know a lot of it depends on whether or not they get most of their top targets on their board. But all I can do is go play like I know I can."
And entering his senior season, Polk added that the Bulldogs are among his favorites.
"I like Mississippi State and I love the direction they are going," said Polk. "I like their intensity on defense and I like how Coach (Geoff) Collins coaches his linebackers. I also like Arkansas State and Louisiana Tech, too."