Croom Hires Three Staff Members.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State University head football coach Sylvester Croom announced Saturday the hiring of Amos Jones and Freddie Kitchens to his coaching staff, pending approval by the Board of Trustees, Institutions of Higher Learning. Croom also announced at this time that he was retaining Guy Holliday from MSU's 2003 football staff.

A coaching veteran with 23 years of experience under his belt, Jones, 43, comes to MSU from James Madison University. He spent the 2003 football season as the Dukes' tight ends and special teams coach, helping the team to a 6-6 overall record.

Prior to going to JMU, Jones coached the running backs and special teams for four years at the University of Cincinnati (1999-2002). During his stay in the Queen City, Jones' handiwork helped all-American place-kicker Jonathan Ruffin earn the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top kicker in 2000. During that same time, his punter, Adam Wulfeck earned all-Conference USA honors. Jones helped the Bearcats to three post-season bowl berths, the 2000 and '01 Motor City Bowls and the 2002 New Orleans Bowl.

Jones, who has coaching experience on the high school, collegiate and professional levels, coached the linebackers at Tulane University in 1995-96. During that two-year stint, he helped linebacker Brian Williams become the seventh most-productive tackler in Green Wave history.

He spent one season at the University of Pittsburgh (1992) as the kicking game coordinator. Under his eye, Panther place-kicker Sean Conley converted 16-of-19 field goal attempts that season.

Jones had two stints of duty at his alma mater, the University of Alabama. He worked with the Crimson Tide special teams in 1990-91 under head coach Gene Stallings. Those two UA teams went 18-6 overall and appeared in a pair of post-season bowl games. The '90 team ended a 7-5 season with a bid to the Fiesta Bowl. One year later, the Tide finished 11-1 (losing only to Florida), and beat Colorado in the Blockbuster Bowl. Philip Doyle earned all-America recognition under his tutelage in 1990, making 24-of-29 field goals. A decade earlier, he began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under the legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant from 1981-82. Those two Crimson Tide teams posted a 17-6-1 record, earning a Southeastern Conference championship in '81 and a pair of bowl games ('82 Cotton and '82 Liberty).

Between those two assignments in Tuscaloosa, Jones coached first the tight ends (1983-85) and then the defensive line (1986-88) under former MSU assistant coach Bruce Arians when he was the head coach at Temple University from 1983-88. During his entire stay in Philadelphia, he worked with the Owl special teams as well.

He worked one season with the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League (1997), helping guide them to a Western Division playoff berth, and has worked in the high school ranks in both Alabama and Florida.

A 1982 graduate of the University of Alabama, he played safety and running back for Bryant. He was a member of the 1978 and '79 Tide teams that went 23-1 and earned back-to-back SEC titles, national championships, and Sugar Bowl crowns. He lettered on the '80 team that finished 10-2 with a win in the '81 Cotton Bowl. He later earned his master's degree from UA in 1992.

Jones and his wife Stacey have three children, daughter Samantha and sons Joshua and Nathan.

Kitchens, 29, comes to State following three successful seasons as the running backs coach at the University of North Texas.

The Mean Green completed the 2003 regular season with a 9-3 record under former MSU assistant coach and current UNT head man Darrell Dickey, and will play Memphis in the '03 New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 16. North Texas lost only to Oklahoma, Air Force and Arkansas this season, and defeated Baylor outside the conference. For the third straight year, the Mean Green was Sun Belt Conference champions, qualifying them for a New Orleans Bowl berth each year.

Under Kitchens' leadership, North Texas¹ rushing attack has flourished. In '03, the Mean Green averaged 182 yards rushing per game. Individually, Patrick Cobbs gained 1,570 yards rushing and scored 17 rushing touchdowns in just 10 games. He was recently named the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

During the previous two seasons, Kitchens is credited with developing Kevin Galbreath into the most productive two-year back in Mean Green history. Under the leadership of Kitchens, Galbreath became the only back in UNT history to ever rush for back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He finished his career as the school's all-time leading rusher. Kitchens' work with Galbreath helped the latter earn first-team all-conference honors in each of his two years with the Mean Green.

Overall, UNT rushed for 4,142 yards in the those two years, the best two-year total since 1986-87. The 2,372 yards gained on the ground in 2002 was the most at the school since 1959.

Kitchens joined the North Texas staff after one season as a graduate assistant at Louisiana State University. He served on Nick Saban's first Tiger staff in 2000, managing the offensive scout team and helping with the LSU special teams. That LSU team went 9-4 overall, including a 28-14 win over Georgia Tech in the Peach Bowl.

He began his collegiate coaching career at Glenville (W.Va.) State College, where he coached the running backs and tight ends in 1999. He played football professionally in Italy during the 1998 season.

A three-year starter at quarterback as a player for the University of Alabama from 1995-97, Kitchens finished his career with 4,668 passing yards and 30 touchdowns. He ranks third in Alabama history in career attempts, fourth in career passing yards and fifth in career completions. UA went 22-13 during those three seasons.

He completed 152-of-302 passes for 2,124 yards and 14 touchdowns during his junior season. His crowning achievement as a player may have come that season, when he engineered a game-winning, 74-yard drive with just 2:14 to play to lead Alabama to a 24-23 win over rival Auburn. He was a Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award candidate as a senior, and was a member of Crimson Tide teams that went to the '93 Gator Bowl, '94 Citrus Bowl, and '96 Outback Bowls.

A native of Attalla, Ala., Kitchens was a high school all-America and was named "Mr. Football" in the state of Alabama his senior season. He is married to the former Ginger Van Over.

Holliday drew much of the credit for a drastically improved Mississippi State pass receiving corps this past fall. With his pass-catchers as the principle targets, MSU passed for 2,424 yards in 2003, the fourth-best, single-season passing yardage total in school history. With Holliday as his mentor, flanker Justin Jenkins improved his season's receiving total from 28 catches in '02 to 62 last fall. Jenkins' 62 catches in a season tied for the fourth-most in Bulldog history, and were the most since Eric Moulds managed the same number in 1995.

The 2003 season was the first on the MSU staff for Holliday. He came to State from Western Michigan University where he has served the prior three seasons as tight ends and then receivers coach. In 2002, Holliday's first with the entire receiver group at WMU, his pass catchers accounted for 256 yards receiving per game, more than 70 percent of the Bronco attack. Under his guidance, the WMU receiving corps boasted four players with 37 or more catches. Tight end Mo Afariogun had 39 catches for five touchdowns and was named all-Mid-American Conference for a third-straight year by the league's coaches.

He also handled Western Michigan's return specialists while in Kalamazoo. His kickoff return unit led the MAC with a 22.9-yard average, and his punt return group finished third in the league, averaging 13.4 yards per return. Holliday coached back-to-back conference individual leaders in kickoff returns.

Holliday joined the Western Michigan staff in 2000 and tutored only the tight ends his first two years. It was during that time that he developed Afariogun into one of the nation's top receiving tight ends, finishing his career with 105 catches.

Holliday helped the 2000 Bronco team to a 9-3 overall record and to the MAC Western Division title. That team won an early season game at Iowa and dropped a narrow 19-14 decision to Marshall in the MAC Championship game.

Holliday, 41, previously served as offensive coordinator at Alabama State University from 1995-96 and 1998-99. He helped the Hornets become the No. 1 passing team in the Southwestern Athletic Conference during his time there.

Prior to arriving at Alabama State, Holliday was the offensive coordinator at Tuskegee from 1992-95. Under Holliday's direction, Tuskegee was the second-highest scoring team in Division II in '92, averaging 38 points per game. The Pioneers ranked in the nation's top 10 in passing offense during all four years.

Holliday began his coaching career at Clark-Atlanta University.

A 1987 graduate of Cheyney (Penn.) with a bachelor of arts degree, Holliday has had seven former players sign professional football contracts.

Holliday and his wife, the former Patricia Morgan of Atlanta, Ga., are the parents of two children, son Justin and daughter Schyluer.

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