Family affair

Battle for the Golden Egg, a family affair for Johnson

Tupelo, Mississippi is a battleground when it comes to the golden egg. Mississippi State and Ole Miss fans claim the city as a stronghold for their respective teams. The fact is, the county seat of Lee County, Mississippi, is vastly split between those who cheer on the Bulldogs and the Rebels. When a Tupelo High School prospect rises to recruiting prominence, locals always seem to have an opinion on where this rising star should spend his college days.

Mississippi State linebacker Jett Johnson heard from both sides. Like the town he grew up in, Johnson’s family is somewhat divided when it comes to the in-state feud between the state and Ole Miss. Her father attended Mississippi State, while her mother grew up cheering on Ole Miss. Whichever school Johnson chooses. to attend, someone in the family would have to switch teams. In this case, it was his mother, Frances.

“It’s a blessing to be recruited by two SEC schools, especially in your home country,” Johnson said. “My mom is funny. She’s done a great job with all her Ole Miss friends and everything. She’s been supporting me every step of the way. She’s here at State now. She’s done a great job and I appreciate all of her support .”

Johnson grew up spending most college football Saturdays in Starkville. It wasn’t a big surprise when the talented linebacker pledged his college allegiance to the Bulldogs, but it was big news. Perhaps no one was happier with the decision than Johnson’s father, Greg.

“I grew up as a fan of the state,” Johnson said. “My dad had memberships since I was a little boy. Coming to Mississippi State was a dream come true. My brother, Tate, is here doing stuff in vet school, too.”

While the Battle for the Golden Egg is only played once per season, it is celebrated year-round. Annual bragging rights are enjoyed by winners and endured by losers. No matter what anyone may say publicly, this isn’t just another game.

“You get a hole in your stomach if you lose for 364 days,” Johnson said. “Ole Miss are an amazing football team with an explosive attack. It’s going to be a huge challenge. We’re going to have to step up and play our best ball.”

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The Mississippi State defense will have their hands full trying to contain the rebel quarterback Matt Coral. A sure NFL prospect, Corral has made defenses pay with his arm talent and his ability to make plays with his legs when things go down. Johnson has tremendous respect for calling it Ole Miss and attacking rebel.

“He’s an incredible player,” Johnson said of Corral. “He’s one of the Heisman guys. Quarterback, running backs, offensive line and receivers, they’re all awesome. Their pace is lightning fast, which is a challenge in itself. . They have great players as well. It’s going to be really tough.”

Kickoff is scheduled tonight at 6:30 p.m. CT. The Bulldogs are a slight favorite in the ball game. Tickets remain available at the Mississippi State Box Office. At the end of the game, one fan base is going to feel amazing, while the other will feel awful. Johnson shares that he and his teammates will do their best to make sure the Bulldogs are the ones celebrating through 2022.

“We grew up in it,” Johnson said of the rivalry. “I have buddies there, but it’s balls now. I have huge respect for them. They have a great attack and we’ll have to be up for the challenge.”