Lewis made a return trip to Starkville for the Big Dawg camp. During the course of that evening, Mississippi State picked up verbal commitment from several of the state's top players including All-American safety Jamal Peters. Before the evening was over, Lewis announced he was backing out of his commitment to Alabama.
A few short weeks later, in a surprising turn of events, Lewis committed to Ole Miss. That verbal pledge turned out to be one of the shakiest in recent memory. Lewis' actions the remainder of the process mirrored those of his peers who were still sorting through their options.
The All-American linebacker made a few game day trips to see Mississippi State as the Bulldogs ascended to #1 nationally. In two instances, Lewis elected to watch a game in Davis Wade stadium rather than making the trip to Ole Miss despite being listed as an Ole Miss "commitment".
The scuttlebutt throughout the final months was that the Bulldogs were quietly making a real move. As posted in the Bones, the talk around Lincoln County was that LSU may prove to Mississippi State's toughest competition in the final sprint to signing day rather than Ole Miss.
The Rebels would not go quietly and remained in pursuit of the four star middle linebacker all the way up until the final hours of the recruiting process. As rumor and fate would have it, the only two hats on the table at Lewis' signing day press conference were those of LSU and Mississippi State.
So about those visits?
Once national All-Star week arrived, Mississippi State fans had rooting interests in the Under Armour game in Leo Lewis, the U.S. Army All-American game in Jamal Peters and the Semper Fidelis Game in Fletcher Adams.
During the course of that week, Lewis said he would visit LSU, Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Peters made the same declaration, while Adams talked of visits to Georgia, Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
In the end, Adams and Peters only officially visited Mississippi State. Lewis elected to take his three scheduled visits and was the only one of the three to change his collegiate allegiance on signing day.
The State of Mississippi saw four flips of note with Leo Lewis switching from Ole Miss to Mississippi State, Armani Linton flipped from State to Ole Miss, Matt Womack turned from LSU to Alabama, while Jarvis Wilson defected from Mississippi State and signed on with Georgia in January.
Lewis was the only one of those four to take multiple visits. Womack and Wilson only officially visited the school they signed with, but both appeared to virtual locks to their original schools. Linton was never considered a "lock" for Mississippi State and in the end elected not to visit Mississippi State honoring his commitment Ole Miss as the only school on his visit schedule.
What is interesting to note is that of the Scout top 40 only one Mississippi player took multiple official visits, Leo Lewis. The overwhelming majority of players who signed with four year schools only visited the schools they were committed to.
Every player who entered 2015 committed to a four year school stuck with that commitment and only visited their committed school other than Leo Lewis.
Fletcher Adams and Jamal Peters elected to cancel their scheduled visits and stick with their long time commitments to Mississippi State.
Mississippi State had one commitment who elected to take official visits, Darrien McNair. McNair elected to take visits to Louisville and Kentucky in consecutive weekends. He was not brought in for an official visit to Starkville and ultimately not part of the Mississippi State 2015 signing class.
Double Signing, Double Vision
Some newcomers to the recruiting process were alarmed yesterday when it was announced that blue chippers Leo Lewis and Jamal Peters had both signed with junior colleges in addition to Mississippi State.
Relax. Double signing is nothing new.
It can be an unnerving discovery for some, but please allow me to explain.
Several of the state's top football players "double sign" to ensure that if anything goes wrong, if a class gets kicked out, an ACT score gets challenged or any other number of things happen of the negative variety that they still have a place to play next year.
If a prospect elects not to sign with a junior college and ends up not qualifying, he would be left having to take what few options remained available. That could mean that he ended up having to go California or Kansas for school rather than a school closer to home.
By signing with a junior college, the player essentially reserves a spot for himself at a junior college of his choosing rather than just who had a roster spot available late.
There have been dozens and dozens of players you know and love that have taken this same step on National Signing day. Fans are more aware of it now, because the junior college programs now publicize it more.
In State Dominance
It may be time to call the marketing department to fire up some new designs for the "Our State" campaign that was so popular with Mississippi State and Ole Miss fans alike.
Of Scout's Top 30 players who signed with four year schools yesterday, a baker's dozen of those autographs belonged to Mississippi State. State signed three of the top four, and eight of the top thirteen.
If in state recruiting had been a boxing match between Mississippi State and Ole Miss, the referee would have stepped in and stopped the fight.
Mississippi State signed 13 Mississippi high school players to Ole Miss' three inkings. The trio who signed with Ole Miss were considered Rebel leans pretty early on, so in the end Mississippi State won every head to head match up on a level playing field including the two biggest prizes Jamal Peters and Leo Lewis.
The momentum from the end of the 2015 recruiting cycle should serve the Bulldogs well on the recruiting trail this spring as the staff works towards another great class in the Magnolia State with a roster filled with home state players the prep prospects already know.