Recruiting Update

With the dead period approaching next week, Mississippi State is still making a few headways in the state of Georgia, especially with the amazing job that assistant coach Jim Tompkins always does this time of the year.<P> However, a couple of prospects that had earlier interest in the Bulldogs have taken their name out of the running, deciding to end their recruitment prematurely with verbals last week.

We glance at what those recent verbals had to say, along with a couple of highly-touted prep stars who are still weighing loads of options and offers.

Defensive end Jeremy Lomax of Lovejoy, Ga., made his plans to stay close to home public late last week, choosing the Georgia Bulldogs from among 15 or so offers.

Lomax said the defining moment was the in-house visit from Georgia head coach Mark Richt, along with his experience this fall at a Bulldogs' home game at Sanford Stadium.

"I chose Georgia," said Lomax. "It's a good school, only an hour and 15 minutes from home so my family can watch me play. When I visited, the gameday atmosphere was awesome. And when Coach (Mark) Richt came to the house, I was impressed with him. I just felt Georgia was the best place and things just kinda fell into place with them.

"I remember going to football camp at Georgia as a sophomore, and thinking how bad of shape the dorms were. Coach Richt said they have brand new ones and I would be one of the first players to stay in them. That was great to hear, too."

Leland Jones of Douglass High School in Atlanta decided to trek a little further from home, in fact, very far for his collegiate choice. The 6-2 and 212-pound all-state linebacker was overwhelmed with his recent trip to Minnesota and he committed to the Golden Gophers after mulling over offers from Clemson, South Carolina, Auburn and MSU.

"I really liked the city and atmosphere," said Jones. "And I just decided it was the best fit for me. I had a real good time and Terrence Campbell, who I played high school football with, was my host and it made me feel at home.

"MSU did offer, too, and I have talked to Coach Tompkins some this year. They were in the running at the beginning but I just felt Minnesota was a better fit, that' all."

The Bulldogs are also recruiting Darius Walker, along with the rest of the country. Walker, a 5-11 and 205-pound tailback from Buford High School, was ranked by The Sporting News as a Top 5 running back nationally and the 67th best prospect in the country regardless of position.

Among his impressive offers, which are up to 54, are the likes of Miami, Nebraska, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Stanford and Southern Cal. Walker has three visits lined up at last check -Southern Cal, Notre Dame and Stanford.

"MSU offered and I know they have a new coach," said Walker. "That is very appealing and I have interest in that program. I talked to Coach (Jim) Tompkins and it was impressive the things he said about the program."

One of Walker' teammates at Buford is also drawing much attention, but at a lower scale. Defensive lineman Neil Brown, 6-3 and 260, has a visit with North Carolina set up in January and is waiting to set up a date with Nebraska.

MSU recently visited with Brown, who is still interested in visiting Starkville next month and noted of his opinion of the hiring Sylvester Croom.

"I talked with the head coach and Coach Tompkins," said Brown. "It went pretty good. I think a new head coach will turn that program around and I do have some interest in Mississippi State. I have not set anything up officially, but I may visit there in January.

"Right now, I am looking at all my options, looking for a good school and a good environment. It has to be the best situation for me and what' best for my future."

Paul Jones is a recruiting correspondent for Gene's Page. Paul, also a sports writer for the Columbus Commercial Dispatch, can be reached by email at

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