Friday Freshman Football Clearances Update

The second summer semester is underway and the balance of Mississippi State's freshman class is taking their first round of college classes. Unfortunately, some names from February's signing list have not been able to enroll on time.

Seven true rookie recruits have not been certified for freshman eligibility by the NCAA's clearinghouse as of Friday, July 8, which is the official University deadline for second summer semester registration. Three of these non-clearances were expected; defensive lineman Jessie Bowman of Brookhaven, defensive lineman Louis Ellis of Jackson, and running back Tim Holloway of Seminary.

The latest report is that two of these non-qualifiers plan to attend junior colleges in their districts. Bowman is headed to Cophiah-Lincoln CC, and Ellis to Hinds CC. Holloway is still considering whether to go the juco route or possible attend a prep school in 2005-06.

Those three individual cases are not surprises as even on signing day there was wide speculation none would meet freshman standards. The other four who have not yet been cleared to report for summer school are still unsettled as to fall eligibility. As reported previously here, linebacker Archie Sims of Laurel and defensive back Anthony Johnson of Jackson are two of the question marks.

Now there are two more. Defensive lineman Anthony Dunning of Coffeeville, Ala., and wide receiver Corey Gardhigh of Cedartown, Ga., were not among the true freshman participating in Thursday's first round of summer conditioning workouts. Neither has been certified to enroll on scholarship, and while there are potential exceptions it would be difficult now for the University to allow registration after missing days of summer school.

There was one new certification to report Friday morning, as offensive lineman Michael Gates of Fairburn, Ga., got his NCAA clearance. Gates had been at Thursday's workout but only as an observer. Scholarship signees cannot participate in team functions until cleared and enrolled.

Even if the four freshmen in question are not cleared in time for summer school, they can still pass the Clearinghouse's muster in time for fall enrollment and then take part in August camp. Late clearances are not all that unusual and most often involved missing paperwork not submitted by the high school or parents, or simple clerical errors at the source. Colleges cannot submit such material for their recruits.

However, a MSU official said that August clearances are increasingly rare as the clearinghouse has streamlined the process in recent years. Freshman who are not cleared by mid-July now are long shots to gain eligibility.

Coach Sylvester Croom has set August 3 as reporting day for all eligible and enrolled Bulldogs, with practices starting the next day. Newcomers and varsity all report and begin work the same time now as the NCAA did away with freshman-only practices two years ago.

Fall classes begin August 18 with August 24 the last day to register.

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