The last time Mark and I talked was a few weeks prior to the end of his football season. Since then, Mark has had several exciting things happen.
"I made the All-County team and the Alabama Sportswriters' All-State team was selected this week and I made Honorable Mention," said Mark, who graded around 85% for the season with 80 to 100 pancake blocks.
Mark and his family received an in-home visit from the Mississippi State coaches a few weeks ago.
"(MSU head) Coach (Sylvester) Croom and (assistant) Coach (Freddie) Kitchens came by about three weeks ago and stayed for about two hours," said the 6-5, 276-pounder. "We talked about everything about the program, the Ole Miss game, when I would get there, really everything about Mississippi State. I really got to know Coach Croom because that was the first time that I've gotten to sit down and talk with him. He's really a great guy who I had heard a lot about. He talked to my parents and they liked him a lot."
Mark explained why the Bulldog coaches offered him a scholarship so early.
"They really liked how I performed at their (summer) camp and how I held my own against the defensive players at the camp," he noted. "They liked how smart I am on the field, how aggressive and how quick my hands and feet are. We were watching footwork (during the camp) and (MSU offensive line) Coach (J.B.) Grimes pointed me out and said that I have the right footwork and the kind of technique that he's trying to get his guys to play. When I was leaving the camp, he said that he liked me a lot and wanted me to send game tapes of my first few games. And they offered me about a week (after the camp) after watching my tape. They were all very pleased with me."
Mississippi State wasn't the only team that liked Mark's ability.
"I have offers from Mississippi State, Central Florida, Southern Miss, Vanderbilt, Memphis and UAB," said Mark. "I thought I was going to get a lot more offers, but when I committed almost everybody backed off. Georgia Tech was calling me a lot and said they were planning to offer, but they kind of backed off (after the commitment). They came on me really hard during the spring. A couple of their coaches came to my school to watch me. I went to their camp and they really liked me. I also received a lot of text messages from Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt called me once a week, but I haven't heard from them in about a month. Up until mid-October, their offensive line coach called me once a week. I went to Ole Miss' camp and they liked me a lot. Clemson had started sending me letters, but backed off when I committed. But, really, everybody kind of backed off when I committed to State."
Two homestate schools, Auburn and Alabama, also showed interest in him.
"My sister goes to Auburn, so we kind of lean toward Auburn," Mark noted. "Basically, what Auburn told me was if they were going to offer me it was going to be late. I've been told that they like the 6-5, 300-pounders. And they wanted to see senior film. When I started getting recruited, Alabama came on me really hard in the spring. And I went to their Junior Day and their A-Day game. I received a bunch of mail from them in the spring. They said they liked me, but, like Auburn, they wanted to see senior film of me. But they backed off when I committed."
What are his feelings about the teams backing off after he committed to MSU? Does he feel like he's missing part of the glamour and glitz of recruiting?
"It really doesn't matter because I knew I was solid with Mississippi State," he said. "It's where you feel the most comfortable. And I like State a whole lot. All my family is from there. Both sets of my grandparents live in Mississippi. I know a bunch of people are excited for me to get over there. They are buying season tickets, the ones that don't have them."
He mentioned that he and his family lean toward Auburn. What would happen if Auburn decided to come in with a offer?
"A lot of reporters asked me what would happen if Auburn or Alabama came in with an offer late, what would I do? I told them I'm signing with State," Mark said with no hesitation.
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.