During our conversation, Corey, one of the most well-spoken youngsters that I have ever talked to, received recruiting calls from Auburn and Wake Forest.
Corey Spells interview.
Mississippi State is recruiting you, aren't they?
When did they get involved with you?
"Our head coach is the former defensive coordinator at Washington High School (Atlanta). He sent some of his players over to Mississippi State. Naturally, they came through and spoke to us as well. This all happened just before the (Christmas) break, probably at the beginning of December. That's when Mississippi State jumped in the picture."
What did they say they liked about you?
"He told me he liked my speed and that I can cover and I can hit. I guess that is what they are looking for in a corner. He said they need some corners in the secondary who can cover.
"People say I am real aggressive. I haven't really watched other corners play before, but I guess I'm real aggressive."
Have you set up an official visit with Mississippi State?
"I'll be there this weekend (1/9)."
What other schools have you visited or will visit?
"I've visited Wake Forest on December 5th and Wisconsin on December 12th. I'm also going to visit Auburn on January 16th and possibly Duke on January 23rd."
Have you had any in-home visits?
"Duke came. Ohio came. Wisconsin has come by twice. The coach from Wake Forest came, Coach Groves. Auburn has came."
What schools have offered scholarships?
"All that I have talked about, so far. Mississippi State, Duke, Auburn, Wake Forest, Wisconsin, Ohio, Maryland and a lot of small schools."
Do you have any idea how many scholarship offers you have?
"I think it's up to 36, now."
What do you like about each school you are most interested in?
"I'll start with the first visit, Wake Forest. I like the program. It is an up and coming program. Coach Groves came down to visit me. He's a great guy, a great guy. Very religious. He has open practices, so everybody can see what is going on. There is nothing to hide. He is a very honest man. He almost lives by the book. Sometimes, you may not want that, but you have to respect that. Then, they play in the ACC. They throw a lot in the ACC and that gives you the exposure that you need if you are trying to go to the next level as a corner.
"Wisconsin, I love Madison. I can't explain it. You almost have to be there to believe it. It is nothing like I thought it was going to be. I love the program. I love Coach Alvarez. And he has a lot of commitment to Wisconsin. I remember him when the University of Miami offered him the job a couple of years ago and he didn't take it. He is a great guy. And they are playing in the Big 10. Plus, they need corners. And a lot of their corners, historically, go to the NFL."
You liked it so well you committed, although you backed off that commitment later.
"Yes, I did. They did put a lot of pressure on me. They took me to Coach Alvarez's house and I sat down and talked to him. I didn't commit there. I waited until I got back home to talk to everyone to see if it was right. Then, I did it. But, I looked at everything and decided to wait. Now, a lot of people have committed to them. I think they may have 20 commits now. They will snap scholarships away from you if they fill up."
What do you like about Mississippi State?
"They are getting a new head coach. And I'm used to switching playing styles and programs so much, I think I may have an advantage over the people that are already there and the people that are coming in. I'm so used to adapting to something new. Plus, it's not too far from home.
"They are in the SEC and you play some major schools. You play against a lot of schools that are going to be ranked in the top 25 every year, guaranteed. You'll play against a lot of people who will go on to the NFL, so you'll see where you stand. I think I want to play in the SEC."
Have you had the chance to meet Mississippi State's new head coach? If not, do you know much about him?
"Coach Tompkins said I would get a chance to meet him. He coaches at Green Bay. I was trying to figure how I would get a chance to meet him with him still being in the playoffs."
What do you like about Auburn?
"They are still in the SEC. And, they are still in the SEC West. So, if I go to Auburn, I will still play Mississippi State. And, if I go to Mississippi State, I will still play Auburn. Both are programs that I really respect.
"I like their playing style. They play a lot of man and a lot of zone, so you get a chance to learn both.
"Plus, Calvin (Booker), our quarterback, is going to Auburn. He committed to Auburn. If he, for sure, decides to go there, then I am definitely going to have someone I know. I actually stayed with Calvin for a while, so that helps out a lot.
"Plus, my entire support group wants me to go somewhere close, somewhere like Auburn.
"Auburn also has a great engineering and a great business program. And I want to major in business. I want to do some investing, maybe get involved in the stock market or, maybe, some real estate."
What do you like about Duke?
"They academics. Their defensive coordinator recruited me, then he wound up getting the head coaching job. He's the head coach there and he's still recruiting me. He respects me as a person and knows my entire family situation. My mother is locked up in jail. She has been in and out. She actually had me in prison. My father died before I was born."
How have you kept your head so straight dealing with such a tough situation?
"I don't know; it's a blessing. I had to leave Florida from that. I didn't see myself going anywhere positive. I was real bad when I was younger. I got involved in some very horrible things, but I haven't ever been locked up and don't have a jail record. I left for a fresh start."
When did you leave Florida?
"Right before high school. I got on an airplane and flew up here by myself."
Who did you live with once you got to Atlanta?
"I was living with different people. Some friends and some older family members. My grandmother, my aunt who is up here now and who I am staying with now."
You mentioned earlier you are very aggressive at cornerback. Can you shut down a receiver?
"Yes sir, we man up. We manned up all year. A lot of times, we went with no safeties. We only run one safety. And sometimes, when they go three or four wide, we will man up our safety, too. So, we have nobody in the secondary zoned out."
Was there any game you played where you faced a big-time receiver? If so, how did you do?
"I really got my name when we played Westlake high school on tv. They had this all-state receiver, all-american receiver, Emanuel Spann. I held him to no receptions. We went man-to-man the entire game. They were like 5th in the state and we shut them out. They scored once but it was off an offensive fumble. That's when people started noticing us."
How did you guys do this year as a team?
"We ended up number 8 in the state. No one expected us to do that well because we went 4-6 last year. No one else was expecting us to do that well, but we knew. This summer, we went to Auburn and won their 7 on 7 camp. We won their championship. That's when everybody knew we were going to be decent, at least. But everybody still wanted to see how we would do when we put the pads on."
Did anybody ever score a touchdown against you?
"No, not a throwing touchdown. Nobody scored a passing touchdown all year against our entire secondary."
Is Jabari Marshall the other cornerback on your team?
"Yeah, he's the other one. The other one is Damon Black; he's our safety. They call him Red. All three of us are seniors."
What are you looking for in a school?
"First, it has to be education. In the situation I'm in, I have to graduate because there is nothing back here for me. Once I leave and go to a school, I'm going to be on my own. I have to look at everything, where I'm going to be staying, how I'm going to be taken care of, what I'm going to have to do to take care of myself. I'm truly going to be on my own except for my little support group that will support me emotionally or financially. I am going to lose a lot of people when I leave Atlanta. So, I have to go somewhere where I can feel comfortable and where they will give me a great opportunity to help myself while I'm in school."
I get a feeling that where Jabari and Calvin go will effect where you go. Would you agree with that?
"Yes that will be important. That, and the sincerity of the people who are recruiting me. If I feel they are sincere about what they say, I am not going to hesitate. I'm not big-school crazy. I'm not winning-school crazy. I can help out any school win."
Jabari Marshall (6-0, 180) interview.
Mississippi State is recruiting you, aren't they?
Have you set up a visit with them?
"I have a visit with them on the 23rd (of January)."
What other schools are you going to visit?
"I am going to Duke on the 9th, South Carolina on the 16th and Illinois on the 30th."
Have all of these schools offered you a scholarship?
"Yes, and I've got a few others that have but I'm not going to visit them."
Who are the other schools that have offered you?
"Bowling Green had offered me. Ohio offered me. Wisconsin offered me. Total, it's probably about 15 (offers)."
When did Mississippi State start recruiting you?
"Recently. They were coming to our school to see Calvin Booker and then they saw my highlight tapes. They offered the next day. They also liked me because I run track. I went to Nationals in the 100 this summer."
What did their coach say he liked about you?
"He liked how I can get to the ball. I had 9 interceptions this year. He liked my speed. That is what most people like. And I can cover man to man anybody."
Are you leaning to any particular school or schools?
"Right now, Duke and South Carolina. Mississippi State just recently starting talking to me. Duke and South Carolina have been talking to me forever. I'm still open and haven't committed to anybody."
You mentioned track. I talked to Chris Woods, a Mays track athlete, last night. And Corey Spells, a football teammate of yours, and he said he runs track. It seems like track is a big deal at Mays. What is it about track.
"I just love track."
What events do you run in track?
"I run the 100 and 200."
How did you do at the Nationals?
"I came in second in my heat, but that wasn't good enough for finals because you had to come in first. I ran an alright time, it was like a 10.7. But, at Nationals, you have to run 10.6, 10.5."
What is the best that you have run in the 100 meters?
"Probably a 10.68."
What do you run the forty in?
Will the track program at the school you are looking at be a factor in your decision?
"That is a big part of my decision. Every school that I talked to, I have talked to the track coach."
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.