Croom Talks Recruiting and Facilities

MSU head coach Sylvester Croom talks about recruiting and upgrading the MSU athletic facilities.

Although the season comes to an end Saturday afternoon when Mississippi State plays Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, the MSU coaches will have no time to reflect on the game or the season. Why? Because recruiting begins in full force.

"We'll make some home visits (with recruits) on Sunday," said MSU head Coach Sylvester Croom, who can only make one in-home visit with each recruit. "That's the first day we can visit. I have a couple scheduled for Sunday and we have a few scheduled during the night next week. It'll be pretty much that way all the way up until the dead period (in December)."

However, this year Coach Croom will do his in-home visits a little differently.

"Last year, I tried to pretty much hit all of them prior to Christmas," noted Croom. "But this year we are going to take a different approach. We are going to do some before Christmas and some after Christmas. We want to target specific individuals before Christmas."

He explained the criteria he is using to determine who he visits in December and who he visits in January.

"It's all a matter of timing with each individual. We schedule it based on what I need to do with that individual player," said Croom. "We are probably recruiting more junior college players this year that can get out in December. So, we have to visit those guys pretty quick. That's part of the reason we scheduled more of our high school players in January. Plus, there are some guys who won't make their decision until after New Year's, so I want to wait and visit them then."

But there aren't as many players waiting after the new year as there has been in the past. As of now, MSU has 28 commitments. Having so many commitments changes his in-home visits strategy.

"It makes them a lot more fun," said Croom with a chuckle. "But with a lot of our players, a lot of other schools are still tying to get them to visit and go elsewhere. So we'll continue to recruit them. And you constantly are recruiting them all the way up until signing day. But at the same time, when we go in it's more about what is the next step now that they've committed. They want to know about the paperwork and what we do during the offseason and other similar type questions."

As for the new trend of players committing early, he sees it as a mixed bag.

"Whether I like it or not, it's what it is. It has its plusses and it has its minuses," said Croom. "The plusses are if he's a great player we are glad we have him onboard. The minuses are about the guys who you really like but their academics may become a problem. When that happens, you have to make adjustments. And that's tough to do when you have created a bond with the guy. You want him in your program, but if academics are such a problem that you aren't sure if you can get him in, then you have to make other choices."

The choices are different based on whether the player is a high schooler or a junior college athlete.

"In our decision-making process in regard to high school kids there are some that may have to enroll in a prep school or a junior college," said Croom. "Some of the guys we have committed, we know that is probably what is going to happen. Because we eventually want them in our program, we will go ahead and sign them.

"The program may come with some junior college players who may not get out in December and may be scheduled to get out in June or later in the summer. If they have a bad fall then we really have to look at that."

As for how many players he and his staff will eventually sign, Coach Croom said, "we will have 26 new players on scholarship when the fall comes along. But we'll probably sign more than that number."

Switching from recruiting to facilities upgrades, Coach Croom talked about several things that are going to be taken care of immediately and another one that is in the planning stages.

"In December I want to be around here some mornings helping with some facility improvements," said Croom. "We are going to totally redo our players' lounge. We are going to create a space to honor our NFL players, past and present, our All-Americans and our All-SEC players. And we are going to update our team meeting rooms. Those are things we are doing immediately. We had one of our alumni make a commitment to finance that project."

"We want to, hopefully, get that done before we start our official visits in January."

A major project that is number one on the priority list is building an academic athletic center.

"I haven't had a chance to discuss that with (MSU AD) Larry (Templeton) but that is still a top priority. It is going to get done," said Croom. "Exactly what the timetable is I don't know. We are working on the details. We know some people who are interested in doing it, but they want to see all the details. And we are still working on those details."


Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at swindoll@genespage.com.

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