As most people who follow recruiting know, South Panola High School has, for the most part, been a hard place for Mississippi State to recruit. Most of the top players, at least the past few years, have signed with Ole Miss. Derek Pegues, the best player to come out of South Panola in years, defied the odds and chose Mississippi State over Ole Miss and the rest of the SEC.
During the recruiting process, Gene's Page has talked with Candace Fondren, Derek's mother, to get the latest update on Derek's recruitment. Candace called me on signing day to let me know that Derek had signed with Mississippi State. Here's a transcript of her interview.
When did you know who Derek was going to sign with?
"Actually, I didn't know until this morning."
Did Derek not know who he was going to sign with when he went to bed Monday night?
"No, Derek knew three weeks ago."
I bet you had an idea who he would choose?
"No, I actually didn't. That's just Derek. He keeps that straight face so you never know. But he said he had already made up his mind about three weeks ago. It was his decision. And I'm really glad he is going to be a part of the Mississippi State family. I think he is going to get good guidance as well as good coaching." (Coach Croom said in his signing day press conference that Derek told him a few weeks ago that his decision would bring a smile to his face.-Gene
How much pressure was there the last two days?
"Oh, there was a lot of pressure, a lot of pressure."
Do you feel this was about the strongest that, as a family, you have ever had to be?
"Yes. I told them that this has shown me just how amazing the recruiting process is. You never know how it is until you have somebody in your family recruited. It got kind of hard at the end. You get bombarded."
How important was Mississippi State coaches Croom and Haley in this entire recruiting process?
"I felt like they had become a part of my family. I felt like Brick had turned into my big brother and I could talk to him whenever I felt too much pressure. We would talk and he would say that it would be over with soon. He never said one thing bad about anything or anyone else. He was always so positive."
Have you talked to Coach Croom and Coach Haley today? If so, what did they have to say about Derek signing with Mississippi State?
"I've talked to both of them. They are both so excited and so happy and grateful that Derek decided to go to Mississippi State."
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Gene Swindoll is the publisher of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at email@example.com.