CATEGORY: FOC College Football



By Gene Phelps

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill says despite the cloud of an NCAA investigation hanging over his program, the Bulldogs had a good recruiting season.

“Under the circumstances, we will end up with an outstanding class,” said Sherrill, whose program signed 19 players on Wednesday’s first day of the national signing period. “We’ve been hammered by all the rumors. While it’s unethical, it’s part of the territory.

“I’m very, very happy with what’s happened today.”

Sherrill said the Bulldogs reached all their recruiting goals with the exception of signing more offensive linemen.

“We wanted five, but we got three,” he said. “We have the opportunity to bring in two or three more, so it may work out.”

The Bulldog offensive line signees were Tron Thomas (6-3, 270) of Greenwood, James Washington (6-5, 285) of Jackson Murrah and Michael Fair (6-4, 245) of Carroll Academy.

In an effort to bring in players six defensive backs, five linebackers best suited for first-year defensive coordinator Joe Lee Dunn’s aggressive scheme, the Bulldogs concentrated on signing perimeter and secondary players with speed and quickness.

“The fact that we have Joe Lee helped us with some of these defensive players,” Sherrill said.

Two of the top linebacker signees were Starkville’s own Barrin Simpson and Edward Yeates.

State signed two junior college players wide receiver James Jones and defensive back Anthony Williams of Hinds. The Bulldogs also signed Itawamba Community College wide receiver Lamont Woodberry (6-1, 215) in the early signing period.

“Woodberry is a big kid who can run,” Sherrill said. “We wanted receivers with size.”

State is hoping to sign two more junior college players today.

Sherrill doesn’t put much stock in recruiting lists. The Bulldogs didn’t sign any players considered to be on the state’s top 10 prospect list.

“A lot of people work off just a list. I’ve never done that,” he said. “I don’t believe in taking a list and saying, ‘O.K. this kid can play because he’s on the list.’ Those players get you publicity, but they don’t win games for you.”

Sherrill said his 1997 class at Pittsburgh was underrated, but it featured 18 future pro players including Hugh Green and Ricky Jackson.

Recruiting coordinator Ricky Black was pleased with Wednesday’s class of signees.

“We got five from out of state and the rest from Mississippi,” he said. “Our first base of recruiting is always Mississippi. We feel like we’ve got some good Mississippi players.

“I think two years from now people will praise this class.”

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