Clearinghouse Certifies 14 Bulldog Frosh

Coach Sylvester Croom had wanted the bulk--as well as the speed and the skill--of his 2006 rookie class to be on the Mississippi State campus this July, getting ready to get ready. It looks like the head Bulldog will get most of his summer wish granted.

As of Wednesday afternoon, just over two-thirds of the high school graduates in the 2006 signing class had been cleared for freshman eligibility. MSU's athletic compliance office confirmed that 14 of the 20 incoming freshmen had gotten their certification from the NCAA's Clearinghouse. That count includes several newcomers State is counting on to play big rookie roles, such as running back Anthony Dixon and defensive back Anthony Summers.

Individual certifications continue to be issued to all NCAA schools in every conference daily, and Mississippi State has good reason to expect at least one and possibly more clearances to come in at any time. By Thursday a list of which of these certified freshmen are actually on-campus for the July semester should be available, along with any updates on their un-cleared classmates. Still 14-of-19 is an excellent batting average, according to compliance director Bracky Brett.

"We've gotten more final ‘yeses' than ever before at this point in July," Brett said. And not only in football; all Bulldog sports have gotten positive reports from the Clearinghouse about all but a handful of their incoming freshmen.

But of course football clearances is the subject of mid-summer interest, particularly with the July school term starting this week. Only cleared freshmen and prep school signees can enroll in summer school on athletic scholarship and participate with the varsity in off-season workouts. And according to Brett, Friday is the last day an incoming player can enroll in the July semester as any later and they would miss too many class dates under University regulations.

The 2006 freshmen who have been cleared are: DL J. C. Brignone, DL Brandon Cooper, Dixon, SN Aaron Feld, TE Brandon Henderson, TE Chris Herrera, LB Jamon Hughes, DL Kyle Love, OL Mark Melichar, WR Keith Mills, DL Rodney Prince, RB Arnil Stallworth, Summers, DB Marcus Washington.

Freshman CB Anthony Johnson, a prep school transfer, was cleared for January enrollment and the spring semester, and went through spring football. So really the count is up to 15-of-20 in the rookie class. "It's our best-ever rate of clearances at this point, really," Brett said.

And it should get even better. DL Reggie Odom, an excellent student, should easily be cleared once an item of routine paperwork is completed by his high school. RB Courtney Jones is also in the Clearinghouse system but has not been processed. These cases reflect why compliance and coaching staffs alike can't relax over the summer, as they can only prod—even beg—the high schools and players in question to provide the Clearinghouse with all the documents demanded in the certification process.

Three other freshmen have not been cleared and one will definitely not be. DL Alex Dekle will attend junior college as a non-qualifier. Two other cases are uncertain. LB Chasman Davis, still recovering from surgery to repair a 2005 knee injury, could be cleared to enroll but would not physically be able to play. It is up to Davis to decide if he wishes to come on to State this fall and start his sports ‘clock' or delay enrolling until January. WR Alex Carpenter had not been cleared as of Wednesday either.

"All of these to my knowledge are paperwork issues," Brett said, "they have to do the process." Colleges cannot handle any of these documents, but they do have their own copies or other reports and as a rule can accurately project who will be ultimately cleared…if everything is provided and then proved to the Clearinghouse's satisfaction. The Clearinghouse handles all cases individually and as the paperwork comes in, not as entire classes or school-by-school.

All three of the junior college transfers signed in February were enrolled for the June semester and participating in workouts. LB Timmy Bailey, OT J.D. Hamilton, and WR Ryan Mason did not require Clearinghouse approval anyway, since junior college transfers must meet other sorts of conference and NCAA standards. They joined December transfer WR Tony Burks, who like Johnson was at State all spring and in June.

As to other sports, compliance staff report that all four of Coach Rick Stansbury's freshman basketball signees have been cleared to play this winter. Those four reportedly are also already on campus for the July semester. Junior college transfer sophomore Travis Gabbidon is not here yet, as he must earn a JC degree before enrolling. And eight of the nine baseball recruits have been cleared, with infielder Conner Powers the lone exception. His case appears to be a clerical matter with getting all reports to the Clearinghouse.

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