Chad Simmons - scout

Tennessee standout defensive end talks about his recent trip to Mississippi State.

Due to an early morning Saturday kickoff, Mississippi State hosted a smaller than normal group of unofficial visits. Many prospects will still sleeping off the war wounds of Friday night, while others made the drive to Starkville to see the Bulldogs play Louisiana Tech. One of the most heralded visitors, Emmit Gooden, was a four time repeat guest.

Gooden originally planned to make the trip to Baton Rouge to see the Tigers take on Florida. An illness forced a change of plans for the talented defensive end.

"The guy that usually takes me to LSU got sick," Gooden explained. "I didn't have another ride down there, so I decided to go back over to Starkville and see Mississippi State play again."

The rising star reports that the Mississippi State coaching staff continues to make him feel wanted as part of the Bulldog family.

"It's really nothing against any other school, but I just feel at home at Mississippi State," Gooden said. "The coaches always make me feel welcome. The players always make me feel welcome. I just have a different feeling when I'm on campus there.

"I just feel at home there and every time I go over there, I feel more and more at home. I can't really explain it better than that. The coaches have done a good job making me feel like they really want me to be there."

As the leaves of Autumn begin to turn, Gooden's recruiting focus is beginning to narrow to just handful of programs.

"I would have to say that Mississippi State is my leader somewhat," Gooden said. "It's really kind of a toss-up between Mississippi State and LSU right now, but I am not ready to make a decision yet. I know that I want to take all five of my official visits before I make my commitment.

"Arizona State is trying to get me out there for an official visit next month. I don't have a date yet, because if we win these last two regular season games, we can make the playoffs. Once I know about all of that, I will have a date to visit there.

"Mississippi State has a date for me too in January, but I am not exactly sure when that is. I just know that I am visiting there. I am going to visit Arizona State, Mississippi State and LSU for sure and then I will see what other places I want to go for those other two visits."

For now, Gooden is working hard to extend his high school football career, which could include the post-season as well as an All-Star game appearance.

"I have been averaging double digit tackles this season," Gooden said. "I really wanted to focus on stopping the run this year and that is paying off. I have been 'A-gapping' a lot more and that's paying off.

"I have talked some with the people from the Blue and Grey All-American game and the Offense/Defense game, but I am not sure which one I will end up playing in. I have heard from Team USA too, so I will probably get to play in one of those games."

Gooden still plans to make a post season decision about his college future. His immediate plans are a little more settled. With another weekend of college football coming up, Gooden knows where he plans to spend Saturday night. 

"I am going back over to Mississippi State again to see them play Kentucky," Gooden said with a chuckle. "I enjoy going over there and watching them play. It should be a good game. I'm looking forward to getting back over there and seeing everybody again."

Gooden holds over a dozen offers including tenders from Alabama, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Tennessee among others. The Brownsville, Tennessee native had previously favored Tennessee, but it appears that the Volunteers have fallen off of the pace.

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