Mississippi State is recruiting you, aren't they?
"Yes. I'm visiting them next week (1/16)."
When did they start recruiting you?
"Probably about three or four weeks ago, they came down to Jacksonville. The linebacker coach, Jim Tompkins, came down to Jacksonville and heard about me. He then came by, saw the tape of me and talked to me. He said he liked what he saw.
"I think Mississippi State is a real good college. I saw some things about them on the internet. They have a good academic program. I thought this would be a very good opportunity for me."
Obviously, Coach Tompkins liked your highlight tape. What did he say he liked about it?
"There were a variety of things. Not only did he like my ability on the field, but me as a person and what I'm trying to do. My freshman year I wasn't thinking about going to college. But now, I really want to go and I did what it takes to get my grades up to where they need to be. I took my SAT and got it up but I'm taking it over again the 24th. I'm where I need to be but I want to be above and not on the borderline. Dealing with grades, anything can happen. Plus, I took English III over after school even though I didn't have to. I just got my report card in today and I had to make an A in Spanish II and World History and I made an A in both.
"When he found out my grades were straight, he was happy and liked that I was going to be eligible. From there, he asked if I had an opening for a visit. The 16th was my only open weekend."
What schools are you going to visit?
"I am going to South Florida this Saturday (1/9). I'll be going to Clemson after I take my SAT test (23rd). I am going to Marshall the last weekend in January. I was going to visit Ole Miss on the 16th but Mississippi State just blew me away."
Have all of these schools offered scholarships?
"South Florida and Marshall have. Clemson is waiting on me to visit before they offer."
Have you visited any other colleges?
"I went to visit Miami. I went to the Florida-Miami game. It was an unofficial visit. They wanted me to come down there. I also went to the first game with Florida. I am being recruited by Florida and Miami, but I am down on the list waiting on this person or that person."
Obviously Ole Miss is a good program also, so what was it about Mississippi State that caused you to choose them over Ole Miss?
"When I saw Mississippi State's academics, it was great. Right now, I'm only thinking about getting an education. Playing football is a privilege. That's just the way I see it.
"And, after seeing what has happened to them over the past few years where they have dropped, I have a chance to come in with the new coach and help build the team back up. I think I can be a good player for this team; help this team make it to the top."
Do you know much about their new head coach?
"No, I don't, but that's why I'm taking a visit. I'm taking my visit so that I can get to know him."
Do you know who he is?
"Yeah, I know he is from Green Bay."
Does him coaching in the NFL make a difference to you?
"Yeah, it has to make a big difference. That is the highest level you can achieve. That means he has a good knowledge of the game. You can't be a coach in the pros and not know what you are doing. You have to know what you are doing and be very much on top of your game. I know he will come to Mississippi State and make a big impact. Being a part of a team he will coach will be cool, man. It's something you would like to be a part of."
Are you leaning to any school?
"I told the coach at South Florida that I want to make my decision that Monday after I go to Mississippi State. I want to make it known who is number 1."
Does that mean Mississippi State and South Florida are your final two?
"Yeah, they are in my top two."
What if neither one of them blows you away? Will you take your other visits?
"Yeah, I sat down with my mother and my coach. You have to always be open-minded about everything because you never know what might make you feel good. So far, they are my top two and I haven't even been there."
What are you being recruited as?
"South Florida, outside linebacker. Clemson as a rover. I think Marshall as a rover. I think Mississippi State as an outside linebacker. But I don't really know their system yet. But, to me, I can really play safety or linebacker. I kind of see both of them as the same."
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com), the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports and Mississippi high school sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.