By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – A tough month on the recruiting trail ends today for Mississippi State.
Over the past four weeks, the Bulldogs have seen six players back off their verbal commitments. Three have already committed elsewhere, and it doesn’t appear any of the others will return to MSU’s 2011 fold.
What really stings is that three of them are in-state prospects with four-star ratings: South Panola receiver Nickolas Brassell, Philadelphia linebacker C.J. Johnson and Amanda Elzy cornerback Jermaine Whitehead.
MSU coach Dan Mullen has always emphasized winning the in-state recruiting war, and he’s done that up to now. As of Tuesday, 16 of MSU’s 23 commitments come from Mississippi’s high school and junior college ranks, including four-star prospects Darion Arrington (safety, Stone County) and Joe Morrow (receiver, Ocean Springs).
“You’re always going to lose a few and gain a few in recruiting as it goes,” Mullen said on Saturday. “But guys that we have coming in, they know what our program is all about; they know nothing is going to be given to them, and they have to earn everything out there on the field.”
MSU has indeed gained a few this month, including Tupelo defensive lineman P.J. Jones, Walnut tailback and defensive back Shaquille Perry, and Hargrave Military Academy tailback Derrick Milton.
While MSU has dipped considerably in the recruiting rankings – some 20 spots since December – there is still plenty of hope for a strong finish today. Several prospects are waiting until this morning or afternoon to announced their decisions, and the Bulldogs have very good shots at a pair of defensive linemen: Leon Mackey (Hinds Community College) and Kevin McReynolds (St. John’s College High School, Washington, D.C.).
“When we step off the field on a Saturday, I’m sure we have pretty good control over what’s going to happen during that game,” Mullen said. “In recruiting, you don’t.”
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.