Brandon Maye had plenty of good reasons to transfer to Mississippi State, including some previous ties to the football program.
The linebacker, a three-year starter at Clemson who's coming in as a post-graduate transfer, was originally recruited by MSU out of Davidson High School in Mobile, Ala. In fact, it was Melvin Smith, the Bulldogs' cornerbacks/nickelbacks coach, who was recruiting him. Maye said he was close to getting a scholarship offer before Clemson came in and offered and got his commitment.
A couple of former MSU coaches also played a role in Maye's choice: Former offensive coordinator Woody McCorvey and former defensive coordinator Charlie Harbison, both of whom wound up at Clemson after Sylvester Croom split Starkville in 2008.
"That's been big, coach Harbison and coach McCorvey, and (to) kind of see what those guys stand for, spiritual guys," Maye said. "I know coach Smith has got some of the same qualities, because they're big-time brothers."
Maye also cited "personal issues" as a major reason for him wanting to get closer to home, and he likes what MSU has to offer in its sports administration graduate program (he's getting a sociology degree in May, then enrolling at State in June).
"It all kind of fell in place, and I was able to get close to home," he said. "Coach (Dan) Mullen has a good staff in place with coach (Chris) Wilson and coach (Geoff) Collins and coach Smith and the rest of those guys on the defensive staff. The relationship I built with coach Mullen allowed me to be comfortable with my choice. They're playing big-time ball right now."
Since he's graduating this spring, Maye should have no problem getting an NCAA waiver to play right away, a la Jeremiah Masoli (of course, the circumstances of the two cases are different in many ways). An MSU spokesman said that NCAA legislation expected to pass in April would render a waiver unnecessary.
Maye said he's played all three linebacker positions, and MSU coaches want to try him in the middle. The Bulldogs lost all three starting linebackers from last season, and reserve Michael Hunt recently left the team. So Maye's a huge addition.
Maye started 33 games for Clemson and has made 233 career tackles, including 43 last season, when injury limited him to nine games (eight starts). He was reportedly unhappy with his playing time last season, and that was apparently a factor in him leaving Clemson.
Maye did admit that a chance to contribute significantly played a role in his decision.
"I was a three-year starter at Clemson, so I had to look long and hard into the situation to make sure that I had a chance to come and compete for a starting job," he said.
So what does Maye believe he brings to the Bulldogs?
"I just bring a lot of hunger, a lot of passion, excellence, because that's what Clemson instilled in us," he said. "Make guys not only play for themselves but also play for the ultimate cause, and that's to honor God."
I'll have more on Maye in Wednesday's Journal.