Bulldog Family Celebration - Lowndes County

[Premium Article] Approximately 150 Mississippi State Bulldog fans showed up to enjoy fellowship with other MSU fans and to hear MSU officials John Correro, Rockey Felker, Sharon Fanning and Ron Cooper speak.

MSU Alumni Association Director John Correro.
  • Fund raiser going on for the new Band Hall. So far, 1 million dollars has been raised with 1.5 million left to be raised.
  • He asked the fans in attendance to purchase MSU car tags. It costs $50 more per tag but $31.50 of that goes directly to MSU.
  • MSU continues to be the largest university in the state of Mississippi with over 16,600 students. Almost 16,000 of those are on the main campus.
  • MSU had a 20%+ increase in the number of National Merit Scholars in the freshman class last year. MSU leads all the other universities in the state of Mississippi by a wide margin.
  • 8 million dollars was provided by the Mississippi legislators to do renovations and expansion on the MSU Student Union. MSU will go back next year to try and get another 7 million dollars. The balance that will be required to complete the project will be raised from private sources. When the union building was built in the mid-60's, MSU had approximately 6,000 students.
  • 4.5 millions dollars were approved by the Mississippi legislators for a 9 million dollar building to be built for the Agricultural and Biological Engineering departments.
  • He asked folks to come by and visit the Hunter Henry Center alumni association building the next time they were on campus and he and his staff would show you around. He said it has been called many things, but once you visit the facility, you will really be very impressed with what is inside.
  • Director of Football Operations, Rockey Felker.

  • Since there were four Bulldog Family Celebration meetings going on Tuesday night and Strat was at the one in Magee, Mississippi, Rockey was there to speak for the Bulldog Club.
  • He emphasized how important season tickets are and that the priority deadline, June 1st, was fast approaching. He mentioned that MSU has a great season ticket package with Oregon, Ole Miss and Alabama on the home schedule. He talked about how important it is to have a full house because MSU competes in a league that has teams that have 80,000, 90,000 and 100,000 fans in the stands.
  • He encouraged people to join the Bulldog Club. He said when you join, you then have the right to gripe anytime you want to, otherwise don't gripe.
  • Head Women's Basketball Coach Sharon Fanning.

  • She talked about the numerous accomplishments of former MSU great LaToya Thomas. LaToya scored in double digits in every game of her MSU career. She also got her degree just a few weeks ago. LaToya was the first player, men or women, in Mississippi State history to be the first player drafted in the first round.
  • She emphasized how important the fans are when they are attending games. Having a lot of fans at home games make a difference when it comes to winning.
  • There were over 240 fans at the women's basketball banquet, which was held in the Hunter Henry Center ballroom.
  • Approximately 800 kids attended their basketball camps last summer.
  • Two of the last four years, Mississippi would have been able to host an NCAA post-season site, but wasn't able to do so because of either lack of hotel rooms or the state of Mississippi flag.
  • She mentioned that Steve Curtis has just been hired as an assistant basketball coach, replacing Jocelyn McGilberry, who took a job on the new Ole Miss staff.
  • Signees: 5-foot-8 Tiania Burns is a player MSU signed out of high school. She is an All-American juco player. She played at Co-Lin and averaged 25 to 26 points per game. She will play the 1-2 positions. She is a perimeter scorer. 6-foot-0 Ashley Sentimore is a big, strong player who plays bigger than she is. She plays very physical. 6-foot-3 Natasha Henderson is not real big right now and will need to work hard in the weightroom to build herself up. She is quick and gets to the rim well.
  • Next year, without LaToya Thomas, the team will have to defend better, have to run more and be mentally tougher.
  • Defensive Coordinator Ron Cooper.

  • Coach Sherrill called him and asked if he would be interested in the defensive coordinator's job at MSU. He said he was. He came over and visited for a couple of days. Coach Sherrill asked him what it would take to get him? Coach Cooper told him that he would like to look at a little film so that he could see what is coming back. It took only a short time for him to know that Coach Sherrill was still excited about the things that could happen at MSU. He was excited about "fixing it" as Coach Sherrill called it. Coach Cooper said "we were going to fix it and fix it in a hurry." Coach Cooper said he got excited about the team after watching the film and seeing the talent that was on the team. He then told Coach Sherrill that he was going to take the job, but that he just needed to go check with his wife.
  • Coach Cooper and his family moved to Starkville in January and bought a home.
  • He said MSU will win by doing a couple of things, being a discipline football team and not commit foolish penalties.
  • He installed about 75% of the defensive package. The package is a lot different than it was at MSU before. His defense is a four-man front with all four down in a stance. They will get after it and try to get to the quarterback. They will play zone and man. They will still blitz some.
  • Senior defensive end Tommy Kelly: Kelly had a great spring. He is 6-foot-6, 295 and ran a 4.7 on pro timing day. He can be a great football player. He was very impressed with how Tommy handled his off-the-field things. Tommy will play left tackle. Coach Cooper puts his top two run stoppers on the left side because most offensive coaches are right-handed so they will run to the right side, the defense's left, the most.
  • Junior defensive tackle Ronald Fields: Weighs 305 pounds. Benched 470 pounds on testing day. He will also play on the left side of the line.
  • Senior defensive tackles Kamau Jackson and Lennie Day: Will play right tackle.
  • Senior defensive end Willie Evans: Willie has some pass-rushing skills that are very good.
  • Linebackers: T.J. Mawhinney looked good in the spring. He was one of just two players who earned the honor of wearing the black jersey in practice. To instill pride, he implemented the black jerseys. Only the top guys earned the honor of wearing them. Odell Bradley was the other player who earned that honor. When he first saw T.J. on film, he thought he was a player who would be replaced as a starter. While he doesn't run as fast as other players, he plays with heart, is a smart football player, gets after it and, more importantly, will hit you. He is the middle linebacker. Marvin Byrdsong and Jason Clark are the other two linebackers. Byrdsong "is going to be something really special. He was just a freshman last year. He is 6-foot-3, 255 and ran a 4.6 on pro timing day." With him and Jason Clark, Coach Cooper feels real good about those three.
  • Secondary: The secondary can only be as good as the rushers up front. Even Dieon Sanders can't cover a wide receiver all day. He felt like Odell Bradley came out of the spring as the best corner that they have. The two safeties will be Darren Williams and Kevin Dockery. He is still looking for that other starting cornerback.
  • Freshman defensive back signee Quinton Culberson: How good is this guy? A few years ago Coach Cooper coached at the University of Notre Dame and had eight guys who were drafted and played in the NFL. Four were first rounders. He evaluated all of those guys on film while they were in high school. He also did the same with Culberson. He said Culberson's film was the best that he had ever seen. He feels like Culberson can come in and help State next year. He has big-play ability. He thinks he is a player that will be special, either on offense or defense. He also said Culberson and the other freshmen corners will compete for playing time at cornerback. Juco signee safety Eric Fuller will also have a chance to come in and play this coming season.
  • Offense: He believes the strength of the team will be the offensive line. (New OL coach) Steve Campbell did a great job coaching them. The offensive line coach has to get after it. Coach Campbell gets down after it. He puts his heart and soul in coaching his players. He believes at the running back position, MSU has two guys who can make you miss. The big back who can come in and play is freshman signee Jason Jude. MSU has two quarterbacks that can play.

  • Gene Swindoll is the publisher and owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial site for Mississippi State sports since October, 1996. He can be reached by email at swindoll@genespage.com

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