To build a solid foundation for the future, Mississippi State head football coach Sylvester Croom knows he has to sign quality offensive linemen. He did that this past recruiting year with the likes of Johnny Carpenter, Chris Spencer, Calvin Wilson and Craig Jenkins. But to compete in the SEC a team has to have as many good offensive linemen as possible. A lineman that the Mississippi State staff has put at high priority is Baldwin High School O-lineman Maurice Hurt. And when they offered him proves that.
"They were like one of my first two or three big offers," said the 6-3.5, 340-pounder who plans on playing at 320. And that early offer made an impression on him. "That means a lot to me because they saw something in me before some other schools did. You have to make sure you check out the schools that offer you first."
Where do they stand as far as his top five is concerned?
"I would say, off the top of my head, my top five are LSU, Florida, Auburn, Mississippi State and Oklahoma," said the 17-year old, who, in addition to those five, has offers from Alabama, Maryland, Baylor, South Carolina and Georgia Tech.
What else has put Mississippi State in such a favorable light with this highly recruited lineman?
"Sylvester Croom has a lot to do with it," said Maurice. "I only spoke with him once. But before then, they were around my top 6 or 7. After I talked to him, I moved them into my top 5 because he is a man who is the same racial status as I am and he is doing big things down at Mississippi State. I also know that Coach Croom is the first black (head football) coach in the SEC. That means a lot to me. And they beat Florida in a big upset last year. And, of course, Jarvis Kyles, who is from my (high) school, is going there now. They saw something in Jarvis where most schools missed out on him because, maybe, he didn't perform like he should have during camps or for whatever the reason. But (Coach Croom) saw something in Jarvis that we all saw by playing with him. That says a lot about a coach."
Maurice mentioned that he already has a top five. How certain is he of that list?
"My top five are set in stone," said Maurice. "I haven't made the dates yet, but I'm going to try to make a valiant effort to make official visits to all of my top five."
Due to his unique situation, Maurice plans on taking his official visits during the football season.
"I'm planning on taking my official visits during game week," said Maurice, "because I don't have the same amount of time as other players because I'm graduating early."
Why did he decide to go ahead and graduate early?
"Around the 10th grade, after looking at my classes, I saw that I wouldn't have much left my 12th grade year," he said. "Then, I started getting pretty nice on the football field and people started to notice and thought that I might get recruited. I thought to myself that I could work hard on the field and in the classroom and I could leave early."
What will be the deciding factors when it comes time to choose a college?
"If you are a major division I football college everybody will have the tutors, everybody is going to work hard and everybody will get your classes first," Maurice explained. "That is everywhere. So, how I, as a player, fit into the system and how I fit in with the players and coaches and the atmosphere, those will be the main factors."
There are five schools that sure hope they, ultimately, meet those factors and will be the one that this very talented lineman signs with.
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Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.