Elijah Staley Commitment Thoughts

Elijah Staley Commitment Thoughts

“I want MSU fans to understand, in my opinion, Staley would be the most talented QB MSU has ever signed, period. Most upside. Program changer.”

That was my tweet I sent out when Elijah Staley committed to MSU via vine on Friday. I admit that I am very high on the ESPN 4 star football prospect. At 6’6 and 208 pounds, his stature alone sets him apart. His cannon for a left arm sets him farther apart. His 4 star rating as a basketball prospects is a true testament to his athletic ability. Am I conveying why I’m so high on this guy?

Since everyone loves comparisons so much, I think he throws like a left handed Vince Young and I think he runs like Matt Jones. I have read that his 40 time is a hair over 4.6 but when he runs he takes those long strides like Jones. His upside is through the roof even though he is a bit unpolished. As an MSU fan who watched what Mullen did with Chris Relf, that is one reason I’m so high on Staley and his potential in Mullen’s system.

A concern is that being a 2 sport guy, he’ll never get to fully develop as a QB. I read in an interview with one of the recruiting networks that Staley thinks his future is in football. His words folks. The reality is that there are a ton of 6-6 athletic swing men in basketball but not many of those same athletes behind center. My personal opinion is that he will initially play both but go with football after a year or two. Just a guess by me.

I also like to look at his commitment big picture as well. Many Bulldog fans have had questions about the way Mullen recruits the quarterback position. It is a majority opinion that Mullen does better with spread quarterbacks that have mobility. The signings of guys like Dylan Favre and Nick Schuessler led many fans to question his strategy of why he takes pro style guys. Tyler Russell is in his senior year and when he graduates, MSU’s QB roster will be Dak Presscot, Damien Williams, and Elijah Staley. That’s all true dual threat guys if you’re wondering. Also, the top 3-4 guys on the 2015 QB board are dual threats.

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Mullen Gets 2 More Commitments

Mullen Gets 2 More Commitments

Yesterday was an eventful day for MSU’s 2014 recruiting class as the Dawgs picked up 2 more commitments to bring the total to 8. Lets take a look at the pickups with some commentary.

Logan Cooke from Columbia Academy (K/P) 6’5 200
Let me start off by saying this commitment took me by surprise. I did not see us taking a kicker in this class that is tight on spots. His addition signals that he is the kicker of the future after Devon Bell. I won’t underestimate how much an elite punter or kicker matters to a football team. Here are his stats from his scout profile:

KOs: 48 kos with 41 touchbacks (85.4%), 17 were 70 yards + (35.4%). Avg ko distance was 66.42 yards.

PATs: 36/39

FGs: 2/6 (made 36,39 and misses of 42,50,52,33)

PUNTS: 20 punts with a 37 yard avg. (all punts were directional punts intended to go out of bounds)

Set Columbia Academy School Records this year for Points in a season by a kicker (42) and points in a career by a kicker (83)

Norman Price from Hinds CC (OT) 6’5 300
Another strong juco OL pickup for this class. Definitely fills a need and helps bridge the gap for the upcoming experience losses due after this year. Price is said to be very athletic and versatile enough to play either OT position or even OG. His versatility makes him an asset. He is rated as a composite 87 and owns offers from Kentucky and Missouri among others. Don’t forget that MSU remains very much in he mix for 4 star juco OT Avery Gennessy.

MSU Gains 2 Basketball Commits

MSU Gains 2 Basketball Commits

Recruiting hit a nice 2 day stretch for Rick Ray as he gained a couple 2015 basketball commits. Both prospects rate as 3 star recruits on 247. With 2015’s class being some time away they have plenty of time to move up the ratings. These 2 commitments give MSU the 2nd ranked class in the nation for 2015 per 247 rankings.

Dante Scott- 6’4 200. Guard. Campbell HS (GA)
Currently rated 85 by 247 with assistant coach Wes Flannigan as his lead recruiter. He is rated as high as a 4 star by other services. Future 150 has him as the 5th best prospect in GA and the 18th best SG prospect in the country. He is strong driving to the basket and taking spot up jump shots. Highlights.

Joseph Struggs- 6’9 195. Power Forward. Carver HS (AL)
Currently rated 86 by 247. Very long prospect with a lot of upside. He is a big time shot blocker who plays above the rim. A lot of his scoring comes from offensive rebounds but if he can extends his shot range he could develop into an effective offensive player. Very good defensive rebounder.

**Very nice start to 2015 but the top prize of Malik Newman is still in play**

Ranking Mullen and Freeze Nationally

Ranking Mullen and Freeze Nationally

Athlon recently ran a story where they ranked all the coaches in college football. Dan Mullen came in at 23 and Hugh Freeze came in at 30. Notably, Mullen finished 1 spot above Les Miles and Hugh Freeze finished 1 spot above Mike Leach. Below are the breakdowns for both Mullen and Freeze but the rankings in their entirety can be read here.
23. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
Overall Record at Mississippi State: 29-22 (2009-present, 5 years)

Each BCS conference seems to have one coach that cannot be judged strictly on his record. Mullen fits that profile for the SEC, as he is coming off his fifth year in Starkville and has a 29-22 overall record. Although Mullen’s overall record isn’t overly impressive, Mississippi State is arguably one of the toughest jobs in the SEC. The Bulldogs have played in three consecutive bowl games under Mullen and are coming off a 4-4 conference record in the always loaded SEC. Mullen is 3-1 against rival Ole Miss and has won seven or more games in each of the last three seasons. Prior to taking the top spot at Mississippi State, Mullen worked as an assistant under Urban Meyer at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida. There’s no question Mullen needs to consistently beat some of the top teams in the SEC West to climb higher in the coach rankings. However, it’s not easy to win the division right now, especially as Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M could all be top-15 teams in 2013. If Mullen was at one of the top jobs in the conference – Florida, Alabama, LSU or Georgia – he would easily win at a higher level.

30. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
Record at Ole Miss: 7-6 (2012-present)
Record at Arkansas State: 10-2 (2011)
Record at Lambuth: 20-5 (2008-09)
Overall Record: 37-13 (4 years)

After a successful debut in Oxford, a case could be made Freeze should be ranked higher on this list. The Mississippi native inherited an Ole Miss team that went 2-10 in the year prior to his arrival and guided the Rebels to a 7-6 finish with a victory over Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl. After finishing 2011 as the SEC’s worst team, Ole Miss was one of college football’s top 40 teams last year. Success and improvement hasn’t just been limited to one stop for Freeze, as Lambuth was 20-5 from 2008-09 under his watch, and Arkansas State went 4-8 prior to his arrival, only to win 10 games in Freeze’s only season in Jonesboro. Freeze is bringing in a top-five recruiting class to Oxford, and the program is clearly headed in the right direction. The Mississippi native has never been a head coach at one stop long enough to show he can sustain success for five or more seasons. However, considering his recruiting haul and track record so far, there’s little to doubt Freeze will continue to climb on this list in the coming years.

MSU Commit Tracker 5/30

MSU Commit Tracker 5/30

MSU’s 2014 commitments:

Jamoral Graham 5’10 190 from Newton County. WR/DB. 4.5 40. Composite 4 star. Could play DB or slot. He’s the kind if athlete that it will be hard to keep the ball out of his hands.

Nikia Cathey 5’8 177 from Westwood (Memphis). Slot WR. 4.4 40. Composite 3 star. Explosive playmaker who has great speed and shiftiness. His recruitment is picking up a lot of steam with more offers.

Dontavian Lee 6′ 200 from Forrest County AHS. RB. 4.6 40. Composite 3 star. Runs with a lot of power and vision. Built like a mack truck.

Lashard Durr 5’11 180 from Harrison Central. CB. Sub 4.5 40. Composite 3 star. Looks to be a prototypical lockdown corner. Great speed, agility, and coverage skills. Recruitment has been picking up with an Oklahoma offer and serious Bama interest.

Chris Rayford 6’1 200 from Byhalia. CB/S. 4.48 40. Composite 3 star. Bigger physical type DB. Could very well grow into safety but has great athleticism. Was offered and committed on the spot.

Jocquell Johnson 6-6 303 from Copiah-Lincoln CC by way of Callaway. OT. Composite 3 star. Long athletic tackle with really good feet. Recruitment really picked up since his high school career. A 4 star type talent that fills a need.

Quick Notes:

-MSU is really tight on spots so I’m somewhat surprised by the number of commitments before Big Dawg Camp. State fans have to like how Mullen continues to make MS a priority.

-Jamoral Graham has really imposed his will as the leader of this class. His excitement really shows as he works very hard on other guys. Great to have him on board early. Great follow on twitter @D1Prospect_3

-Many fans are nervous about Cathey. His has received many more offers and has said he’ll go to camps. He committed because of Brewster but Gonzales has been noted as really coming on with him. He has stated that it would “take a lot” to change his mind and that he is trying to be an early qualifier.

-By looking at offers we have out it appears we may take 3 RB’s IF they can play multiple positions. I have friends who coach high school football who love Dontavian Lee’s versatility and say he could have a future at LB. I’m not saying he’ll move, just noting a football guy’s opinion.

-Lashard Durr is a big get that we should see his rating go up after the camp circuit. He got intense interest from Saban, Oklahoma offered, and he didn’t flinch. We offered and he committed on the spot. We are seeing the Deshea Townsend effect. Also nice job by Kes Koenning on this one.

-Chris Rayford is an under the radar freak athlete. It was discovered at the Steve Robertson combine in Tupelo that he is only 16 years old. That’s amazing. Based on his age and build (I’m judging from his video) this kid may grow into a SS or even LB. I don’t care that he’s a composite 84, he is a commitment MSU fans should be excited about due to upside. I expect his rating go up after camp and more exposure.

-Jocquell Johnson fills a big need for MSU at OT. Really athletic kid that I never understood why he wasn’t signed and placed out of high school. In my opinion, he is a 4 star talent athletically. One thing to log in the back of your mind is that he went to Callaway and there are some other prospects from Callaway MSU is pursuing.

-As usual for State fans, expect a few commitments at Big Dawg Camp which is right around the corner.

Possible Commitments Next on Deck:

Aeries Williams 6’1 205 from West Point. RB. 4.5 40. 247 4 star. He has been on the brink for a while. MSU is his clear leader. Williams is a big time back that would be a huge addition. Look for MSU to push at Big Dawg Camp.

Gerri Green 6’5 210 from Greenville. LB/DE. 4.6 40. Composite 3 star (.005 from being a composite 4 star). The KJ Wright clone has had MSU as his leader and could be close. As with Williams, expect MSU to roll out the red carpet at Big Dawg Camp.

Jesse Jackson 6’2 195 from Petal. WR. 4.5 40. Composite 4 star. MSU has been the leader for some time but put me in the group that believe Mullen should push for and take his commitment. Mullen and Gonzales should try to pull out all the stops at Big Dawg Camp to get him in the boat. It is starting to look like he may take his time but a strong push could get him on board.

MSU’s Leaders at WR Are…

Heading into the 2013 season, MSU is searching for who is going to step up as leaders at WR with the graduation of 5 seniors. The Bulldogs also lost their top 4 pass catchers from 2012. One sure thing is that there is a lot of catches up for grabs this year (no pun intended). With all these reps and catches available for whoever can step up, it was apparent in the spring which 2 guys were making the biggest splash: Jameon Lewis and Robert Johnson.

Fast forward to yesterday. Both guys were going through workouts that weren’t team required. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess these 2 guys mind sets. They know the opportunity in front of them and they aren’t taking it lightly. It looks as if they are taking leadership roles on and off the field. It appears that the spring was an indication of what’s to come and that’s big years from Rojo and Jameon.

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Mullen Steps Up Recruiting

Another unique piece of recruiting mail and another Internet buzz generated. For anyone keeping score, that’s the third time that has happened this cycle. The first was the infamous “you’re a baller” and the second was the “can of swag’ letter. The latest was a Mother’s Day card to Olive Branch offensive lineman Chase Johnson. All of these recruiting letters have gotten MSU a ton of publicity and gotten recruits talking about the Bulldogs. All good things in my mind.

While MSU fans are enjoying Dan Mullen leading this creative charge, the national media, radio host, and bloggers have taken every opportunity to scoff at MSU’ efforts. The latest of the snide articles was penned by Yahoo blogger Cameron Smith. The opening sentence in his piece is “This is getting ridiculous”. Smith is just another media member taking shots (a certain Mississippi sports radio personality took shots at “you’re a baller”) at Mullen doing everything he can to recruit in the SEC West with the smallest recruiting budget.

First I’ll say that I love what Mullen is doing. Recruits are opening MSU mail and talking about it on social media. Doesn’t mean they sign but its a good thing. With MSU’s small budget, Mullen has to find interesting ways to differentiate himself from the pack without spending a ton of cash. Mission accomplished.

What I don’t understand is some of the media pushback. In today’s college football landscape, prospects surface every cycle flashing hundred dollar bills but that gets overlooked and not a big deal. God forbid a cash strapped staff do some interesting recruiting letters and now these media guys have negative attitudes about it. If illegal benefits are “just part of recruiting” but different letters irritate you, please go get your head examined.

Even when you look at within the states borders we see the double standard in how it’s reported. Last recruiting cycle we saw Hugh Freeze recruit Kailo Moore in his underwear, he kissed Tunsil, and cried on the phone to a juco DT. All of these things, which I find weird and not the masculine football attitude I grew up around, were lauded as great recruiting and passionate. Chris Kiffin was given all kinds of awards for his performance last cycle and it was reported that he sent prospects hundreds of Facebook messages. That was lauded as genius and tenacious.

To be completely honest, I have no issue with any of it. If “you’re a baller” gets your foot in the door or if recruiting a guy in your underwear gets a commitment, that’s fine. The coaches and players involved in the recruiting process are the ones who have to deal with everything they’ve done, said, and the decision made. Recruiting is war and all is fair so don’t get upset over letters. It’s a long way until February and letters are just the tip of the iceberg.