Steve Robertson -

Coach Dan Mullen has added some additional firepower to the Mississippi State recruiting arsenal

With long-time safeties coach Tony Hughes and two-time defensive coordinator Manny Diaz leaving the Mississippi State coaching staff for Jackson State and Miami, Dan Mullen had some decisions to make. Interest in both positions was heavy, so the veteran coach had some thinking to do. With the official word on the coach's hiring decisions still pending, it appears Mullen has landed two quality coaches in former Louisville corners coach Terrell Buckley and former USC linebacker coach Peter Sirmon.

The name Terrell Buckley was the first name on Bulldog fans' wish list when the news came down that Tony Hughes had accepted the head coaching job at Jackson State. Buckley, a Mississippi native, has played football at the highest levels and has earned a reputation as one of the toughest recruiters mining the Magnolia State for talent.

It appears that Buckley will continue to coach corners once Bulldog practice begins and Deshea Townsend will rotate over to safeties to fill the void left by Hughes. Look for Townsend to carry some of the defensive coordinating load as well as he continues to advance his college coaching resume. 

At his most recent stop, Louisville, Buckley was extremely popular with both Cardinal players and fans.

"First of all, the players on the team right now absolutely love him," shared Jody Demling of scout Louisville affiliate Cardinal Authority. "He’s hard on those guys but he also knows how to let them have fun and let them be college kids.

"I wouldn’t say he’s a “players coach” like some folks like to label guys, because he does get on them. But the guys love playing for him."

In addition to doing a great job developing and motivating his players, Buckley has developed into one of the region's most impressive college football recruiters.

"In recruiting TBuck was a star for the Louisville staff," Demling explained. "He was great with the kids not only in Mississippi but whatever area he went into to recruit. The feedback from the recruits was they could relate to him on a lot of levels, including a guy who had such a great pro career.

"The kids he recruited here seemed to love that. He’s great with the parents once he gets into a house, he wins it over. It’s kind of like the current players with the recruits. They see how he is with those guys and how he coaches and they just love it.

"He did such a remarkable job in two years for Louisville and had the Cardinals in on some fantastic prospects."

With news of Buckley's pending hire making the rounds, Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen was headed to the AFCA College Coaching convention to interview candidate to fill the defensive coordinator position.

Several names emerged from the grapevine, but in the end USC linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator Peter Sirmon would eventually get the nod.

With an impressive playing resume at the University of Oregon and the Tennessee Titans of the NFL, Sirmon certainly has an understanding of how the game is played. In addition to his on the field credentials, Sirmon brings some serious recruiting chops to the table. As the recruiting coordinator for the Trojans a season ago, USC reeled in the top signing class nationally. recruiting analyst Gerard Martinez covered Sirmon during his time at SC. Martinez reports that Sirmon brought improvement to every facet of his responsibilities.

"Peter Sirmon recruited the areas of the Inland Empire in Southern California and the Southwest, but his main contribution to USC came recruiting linebackers," Martinez shared. "Sirmon, as recruiting coordinator, set a strategy in place where USC recruited by position. He was responsible for recruiting players like Salem Hills (Utah) four-star defensive end Porter Gustin and Granite Bay (Calif.) four-star linebacker Cameron Smith. Both played substantial minutes as true freshmen this season."

While every coach has their own style, Martinez reports that Sirmon is not a real "rah-rah guy" who gets by on emotion alone. There appears to be deliberate action in everything from game planning to recruiting.
"Sirmon is very smart and very measured," Martinez shared. "He's not the salesman type that's going to sell ice to Eskimos on the recruiting trail. He's more about evaluations and working the angles to position the staff in the best place possible to land a recruit. 

"The way he coordinated the staff in recruiting gives you the sense he will be a good defensive coordinator. In fact, before Steve Sarkisian was fired by USC, Peter and I had a conversation about that. I told him he had just the right mix of intelligence and shrewdness to be a great defensive coordinator someday. Granted, I didn't think he would be USC's defensive coordinator two months later."

Dan Mullen and his staff will look to mesh with their reinforcements quickly as they learn about each other on the fly. National signing day is just under three weeks away. The Bulldogs have some spots to fill, but those no longer include any coaching positions.

Gene's Page Top Stories