How long have you been participating in track?
"Probably since the 8th grade."
What throws do you participate in?
"Shot, discus, javelin."
Which do you feel is your best event?
"Probably the shot put." (As of April 30th, his throw of 63'2" was the 4th best in the nation.-Gene)
You seem to be doing really well this year. Did you do as well last year or did you come on strong this track season?
"Last year, I had a so-so year. I never really seemed to catch a big throw or had any breaks in using my technique. I ended just like I started out the year. I've worked a lot harder this year. I've also been injury-free this year. Last year, I had a couple of nicks including one to my wrist. Plus, I've gotten stronger and have a lot more confidence. That was basically due to the Nike Meet, really."
A lot of colleges seem to be showing interest in you. When did Mississippi State get involved in your recruitment?
"They got involved with me in the fall, actually. They have been in on me for a long time, which I like. They showed that they had belief in me when I wasn't really anything. They were going on last year's marks and sort of took a risk by bringing me up for a visit and recruiting me."
Did you know much about Mississippi State when they first started recruiting you? "I didn't know too much about them when they first started recruiting me, so I did some research on them. They have a pretty good history of throwers with Garry Frank (1984-87), who won the NCAA. He has the world record in one of the power-lifting lifts. I also noticed that they have some pretty good young throwers. And team-wise, they are pretty good. They've also recruited that stud sprinter (Steve Mullings)."
Tell me a little more about your visit to Mississippi State? When did you came in and how did the visit go?
"I came in for football Homecoming against Memphis. I had a really good visit. It was a well-planned visit. I had a great host, J.D. Erickson. We toured the facilities. I liked how the track is set up."
When did they offer you a scholarship?
"They offered right after the Nike Meet, which was on March 13th. I really didn't expect anything to be offered, especially off of last year's marks."
It sounds like Mississippi State, basically, offered you based on the potential they saw in you.
"Yeah. That is what I like about them. Not many people were looking at me before the Nike Meet or before I started putting up big marks. They showed belief in me by offering me before anyone else."
Have you already visited all of those schools?
"The first visit of those three was Auburn. Then I took the Arizona visit. Two weeks after that, I took my visit to Florida."
Have all three offered?
"Auburn hasn't offered."
Has Auburn said what they are going to do about an offer?
"They said there is one sprinter, Walter Dix, from Florida that they are waiting on. Because track doesn't have many scholarships (12.6), it is like a totem pole. This guy signs, you get this amount, and if this guy doesn't sign, you get this amount." (Walter Dix has the top 100 meters record in high school this year.-Gene)
What do you like about those four schools?
"Each one has good coaching and are very competitive. I want to go to a school that will be competitive. All of them have pretty good facilities and pretty good weather. I know Mississippi State gets cold some, but I don't think it will get that bad during the spring and summer. I like the SEC schools because the SEC is, by far, the best track conference in the NCAA. I think 5 of their schools are in the top 10. The SEC is THE conference in track. Comparing other conferences to the SEC is like comparing Arena football to the NFL."
Do all the schools expect you to come in and compete immediately?
"I might redshirt the first year and work on my strength because the throws are different than any other event in track. You move up in weight in college. I wouldn't mind being redshirted because I will get 4 years of college either way." (The shot increases from 12 pounds in high school to 16 pounds in college.-Gene)
Of the four schools that are still on your list, what do you like about each one individually?
"Florida is close, obviously. They are about a two-hour drive. But, that's not going to be a big factor for me, because I'm also thinking about Arizona and that is about a six-hour flight. Auburn has great athletes and good coaching. What I like about Mississippi State is they have good coaching and a good training atmosphere. It's hard to explain but it's a good training atmosphere. It's not a really big town and it seemed like it would be a nice place to live. I also like Little Dooey's (laugh). That bar-b-que is awesome. Auburn had that same small-town feel. I like the coach at Arizona. I've known him since he was at Florida when I met him as a freshman. Plus, their facilities are really nice. But, the thing about it is it is so far and it is really hot."
Do you have them in any kind of order right now?
"It changes every day. It is a tough decision. I knew it would be hard to decide, but I didn't think it would be this tough. But none of them will be a bad decision. It's just harder than I thought it would be."
Is Mississippi State still strong in the picture?
Do you know when you are going to make your decision?
"I will probably make my decision in the next two weeks."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher/owner of Gene's Page, the source for Mississippi State sports on TheInsiders.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.