[Premium article] Lawrence County High School football player Wayne Hardy was not very well-known by recruiting publications prior to the start of this season, but Southern Miss knew about him.

Southern Miss offered a scholarship and Wayne accepted their offer early in the recruiting process. As Wayne told me, "they have been recruiting me pretty early."

With their offer in hand, Wayne decided to go ahead and commit. But having an offer wasn't the sole reason he went ahead and committed. "I've gotten to know the coaches," Wayne said when asked what it was about Southern Miss that caused him to commit so early. "I know the program and they want me to play running back. That is one of the things that I have been wanting to do. And it is close to home."

However, even though he has committed, Wayne is doing what so many committed players are doing this year and that is visiting other schools that are recruiting him.

Wayne told me that, "Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State," are recruiting him and, of those three, one has even offered him a chance to come in for an official visit. "On January 4th I will visit Mississippi State," Wayne said. He also said he will visit Southern Miss on January 11th. No other visits are scheduled at this time.

Mississippi State came in late with their recruitment of Wayne but have made an impression on him. He took an unofficial visit to Mississippi State on the day they played BYU. "I didn't know much about them before I went up there," said Wayne of his visit. "They have pretty good facilities."

Although this 6-1, 217-lb. athlete with excellent 4.5 speed in the forty said he is still committed to USM, he gave a simple but reasonable reason for wanting to visit at least one other school. "I just want to check around." Basically, it sounded to me like he just wants to make sure he is making the right decision. Who can blame him since this is possibly the biggest decision of his young life.

With at least two official visits lined up in January, Wayne now has to do what so many other young athletes are having to do this year and that is decide what college is best for him. Like so many decisions in life, it is not going to be easy because both options, Mississippi State and Southern Miss, have a lot going for them.

Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at

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