Q&A with Rivals.com recruiting analyst Jason Howell

Bassfield four-star safety Jamal Peters is one of Mississippi State's top in-state commitments. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Bassfield four-star safety Jamal Peters is one of Mississippi State’s top in-state commitments. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

This afternoon I got the opportunity to catch up with one of my former colleagues Jason Howell, the Southeast recruiting analyst for Rivals.com, for an article I’m writing on Mississippi State’s 2015 class.

All of the conversation will not be included in Sunday’s paper so I thought I would share what he had to say here.

I didn’t ask him to break down individual prospects, but just talk about the Bulldogs class in general.

What are your overall impressions of the Bulldogs’ class?

Howell: “They’ve done a great job of grabbing guys like Jamal Peters, Nick Gibson and Fletcher Adams. They’ve competed for some top prospects in the class, especially in the state of Mississippi. In past years, Ole Miss was getting most of them and this year they really did a good job of getting in early on a lot of guys and securing relationships with guys like Jamal Peters and Fletcher within the state.

“This was a big year for running backs in the state of Alabama and they were able to go in and grab a guy like Nick Gibson. And we haven’t even talked about a guy like Malik Dear.

“Overall, I just think they did a good job in the film department, getting in on guys early and establishing those relationships and capitalizing on them at the end.”

Different schools have different approaches to recruiting. Some go after national prospects and wait until signing day on them. Mississippi State takes the approach of trying to get guys in early and load up on commitments in the summer. What is your thoughts on how the Bulldogs try and secure commitments before their season year starts?

Howell: “I think it has paid pretty big dividends for them. They get in early, establish those relationships and build those relationships with those coaches. They build a trust with the family before the season starts.

“That plays into the Big Dawg Camp. That’s a pretty dynamic atmosphere. There’s a lot of yelling, running around and energy. It’s easy to get caught up in that. They’ve seen some big dividends with that over the last few years with guys like Keith Mixon, Jamal Peters and some other big names.

Justin Johnson is another guy who committed right before Big Dawg Camp. That was a big day for them. They picked up eight kids that day. That’s just a huge day and you can build some real momentum that way.

“What they did this season really carried over. They were able to get in on some guys that maybe wouldn’t have looked at them as highly in other years.”

How big an impact will Mississippi State’s season this past year have an impact in their future recruiting classes?

Howell: “It’s had an impact in Mississippi obviously but I think the bigger impact is going to come nationally. They’ll be able to get guys here and there from out of state and out of the region a little bit more.

“Their commitment list right now is a lot of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. There’s nothing wrong with that. But now they may have an opportunity to go grab a guy out of Texas or somewhere they’ve identified early. They do a good job of that.

“I think they kind of opened some eyes this year outside the borders and outside the region a little bit more.”

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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