While I didn't listen to Coach Sherrill and senior quarterback Kevin Fant last night on the radio, it is good to see Kevin's situation finally resolved.
As most of you know, Kevin missed the last half of spring practice. The first reason given was by Coach Sherrill, who said Kevin had an abdominal strain. Then, he and Coach Morris Watts said Kevin was having academic problems and needed to take time off from practice to work on those problems.
As was written by Greg Ellis of the Tupelo Northeast Daily Journal in a May 5th article in which he quoted Kevin, Kevin said that he didn't practice because he had academic and personal problems that he needed to take care of.
Kevin admitted he didn't handle those things like he should have. It even got to a point where it caused him to have a heated exchange with Coach Sherrill during a scrimmage.
The result was Kevin and Coach Sherrill decided, unknown to the fans or the media, it was time for Kevin to get away from football and get his life back in order.
The first sign that something was amiss was the fact that Kevin didn't participate or attend practice following the spring scrimmage. I didn't think much about Kevin missing Monday's practice since it's not unusual for a player to miss due to several factors, such as a minor injury, a class conflict or family reasons. However, when he missed Wednesday practice, then my curiosity was aroused.
I asked Mike Nemeth, the head of MSU's sports media relations, where Kevin was. He told me he would find out and get back with me, which he did. Coach Sherrill told him that Kevin had an abdominal strain and wasn't practicing because of that. I reported that, as did other media outlets.
However, that wasn't enough for some folks. So, they started talking to their friends, some of whom worked within the MSU athletic department. However, as I've learned a long time ago, those sources aren't always the best sources, because, sometimes, even they only know part of the story.
What did those folks find out? They found out about the argument that Kevin and Coach Sherrill had. They also found out that Kevin wasn't going through rehab. They even found out that Kevin was partying late into the night prior to the scrimmage.
Some of those folks then started posting the rumor that Kevin had quit the team due to the argument he had with Coach Sherrill.
As the rumors continued to escalate, MSU offensive coordinator Morris Watts was quoted as saying Kevin didn't practice due to taking time off to work on his academics. Coach Sherrill, in an interview with the media prior to the spring game, said the same thing. He also said that Kevin did have a pull in his abdominal area, although that was not emphasized as much as the academics.
Kevin was also supposed to attend the press conference, but, according to Coach Sherrill, decided not to due to a couple of media representatives being present at the press conference that he didn't want to talk to.
With the change, or addition, if you prefer, in the reason for Kevin not participating in practice and his absence at the press conference, the rumors escalated even more.
Eventually, with spring practice over and the baseball season going so well, the talk about Kevin slowly started to die down, except among those folks who just love to talk about rumors or disliked Coach Sherrill so much that they wanted to make as much out of this as they possibly could.
Finally, Kevin decided to tell his side of the story. What he said in the Greg Ellis article confirmed some of the rumors that have been written about and confirmed some of what Coach Sherrill had stated.
As we reflect back, it appears one of two things could have been handled better. Of course, this is nothing more than my opinion, but if I had been Coach Sherrill, I would have told the media that Kevin was having a few personal problems, and with his (Coach Sherrill) encouragement, decided to take the rest of the spring off and work out those problems. Plus, if I had been Kevin, I would have talked to the media much earlier.
Would that have stopped the rumor-mongers from spreading their rumors? No, not at all, because, as we all know, some folks just love to spread rumors.
The bottom line is Kevin appears to have gotten his priorities back in order and is ready to put football back in his life.
After taking two of three from the 5th ranked LSU Tigers, MSU moved up in the polls and back in regional hosting contention.
Other baseball news...
For the third time this season Mississippi State sophomore right-hander Alan Johnson has been tabbed for Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Week honors.
The sophomore from Pleasant Grove, Ala., registered his second complete-game shutout in SEC competition in last Saturday's regionally-televised series-clinching 5-0 win over SEC-leading Louisiana State. Johnson (5-2, 3.70) scattered four hits (three singles and a double), struck out six and for the fifth time in 11 starts this season did not allow a walk. The four-hit shutout represented the fewest runs and hits this year by LSU, the top-hitting team in SEC competition.
Johnson becomes the first Bulldog player and second SEC athlete overall to earn SEC Pitcher of the Week honors three times in a season. Florida's Johnny Wiggs was a three-time recipient of the weekly award in 1988. MSU All-American and former Major League pitcher Jeff Brantley is MSU's only other two-time winner of the SEC Pitcher of the Week honor.
This weekend the Bulldogs travel to Athens, Ga., and open their final regular-season road series of the year Friday at 6 p.m. (CDT) against SEC Eastern Division rival Georgia (26-22).
MSU's men's track team earned its highest ranking in school history with a number 2 ranking by Trackwire 25.
The Trackwire 25 for Men, including team rankings and projected national meet scores:
More track news...
Mississippi State added a couple of signees to its list of track signees.
MSU head track coach Al Schmidt announced Monday the signings of Brandon Smith from Ashland, Ala., and Daniel Nolan from Scottsboro, Ala., to the Bulldog track program.
Running for Clay County High School, Smith has won nine individual Alabama 2A titles in cross country and track. He holds the 2A record in both the 1600m (4:19) and 3200m (9:19). Smith listed his best time in the 800m at 1:59, while his top timed 5k cross country time is 15:10.55. He was named the Most Valuable Performer for 2A indoor track this year.
Nolan clocked the fastest times in Alabama in both the 110m and 300m hurdles, according to Alabamarunners.com. Nolan's time in the 300-meter hurdles is 37.77, while his fastest 110m hurdles is listed at 14.29. Nolan also ran the 400-meter dash toward the end of the season, clocking a time of 48.4. The Alabama 5A MVP indoors this season also long jumped 21-10 during the year.
"These are two of the top athletes out of Alabama," commented head coach Al Schmidt. "We're really fortunate and pleased to have signed them. They will help keep our program nationally ranked."
Smith is a member of the Beta Club and part of the student government association at CCHS. He has scored a 27 on the ACT.
The Wildcats' team MVP for the past three seasons, Nolan is also a six-time 5A state champion. Academically, he ranks in the top 10 percent of his class and is a seven-time Gold Card (straight A's) recipient from SHS. Nolan is nominated for the Bryant-Jordan Award, given to Alabama's top scholar-athletes.
Brandon Smith is the son of Bob and Linda Smith. Daniel Nolan is the son of Dan and Becky Nolan.
Have a great Bulldog week!
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.