Several years ago, fans found out who the new recruits were when they appeared in the local newspaper after signing day. If a player from your area did not make the commitment list, you may not have found out until you picked up a program at the season opener.
Things have changed and recruits have changed. Twenty years ago if you made a commitment of any kind, you kept it. With so many players staking their claim to an offer early while they continue to shop around, the misnomer "decommitment" was born.
Now we have All-Star games, All-Star lists, National rankings, State rankings, your rankings, my rankings and Joe the Barber's rankings. Throw in the fact that everyone claims to have an "inside source" and it is difficult to know what to believe.
The one constant through it all has been change. Just when you think you have it all figured out and you can visualize your favorite high school prepster making the play wearing your school's colors, he commits to another school.
The holidays will soon be over and the stretch run will begin in earnest. Mississippi State fans probably feel they have a pretty good idea of how it will all shake it out with few exceptions. I wonder how many of them felt the same way this time last year.
This time last year there were six names on the Bulldog commitment list that never made it to campus. Courtney Jones, Kenny Ashley, James Lewis, Nick Kyles, Charles McRea and LeBrandon Glover were all listed as verbal commitments to Mississippi State last Christmas.
Running backs Jones and Ashley committed to Mississippi State very early in the process. This time last year the only missing piece of the running back puzzle appeared to be Anthony Dixon who eventually signed with the Dogs and won several postseason freshman honors.
Jones did sign with State before failing to meet entrance requirements and Ashley chose Southern Cal and an eleventh hour offer over his commitment to MSU. Ironically, both Jones and Ashley are available again this year, but it appears that State will likely pass on both.
Much has been said about the Bulldogs inability to land a pair of top flight high school wide receivers. Tony Burks signed as a mid-term enrollee last December. With the commitments in hand at the time, the Bulldogs seemed to be putting a good receiving corps together.
James Lewis never signed and wound up in junior college in California. Nick Kyles, the brother of current Bulldog Jarvis Kyles, ended up at Divison II Albany State. Jamere Holland and Lattarrius Thomas both hinted around about committing to State, but signed with USC and Louisville respectively.
The Bulldogs did pick up a late commitment from Keith Mills who had committed to Southern Miss the week before his visit to Starkville. Mills signed and drew early praise in fall practice before being handed a redshirt. His Bulldog days were over several weeks later after an off the field indiscretion.
Defensive back Charles McRea out of Copiah-Lincoln Community College was expected to come in and compete for a spot in the secondary. In the end McRea ended up at Angelo State.
LeBrandon Glover was another long time commitment. Glover grew increasingly wishy-washy before seeing his offer pulled by the Mississippi State staff. Glover signed with South Florida making him the only player of the six to find his name on a divison-one roster this season.
The month of January, as always, will bring some changes. There may be some players who end up taking the same route as the aforementioned Kyles and McRea to Division II. There may be a player or two like Glover who wiggle their way out of the option to play at Mississippi State.
While spots are certainly limited, some new names could emerge. Just take a look at January of 2006 as a prime example.
Last Christmas Timmy Bailey was in Iraq. Upon his return home he visited Mississippi State and Ole Miss before deciding on the Bulldogs.
Reggie Odom favored three schools last December and MSU was not one of them. MSU had just begun to get in the picture when Reggie named Louisville, South Carolina and Wake Forest as his leaders. The talented defensive tackle is expected to contibute next season as a redshirt freshman.
J.D. Hamilton was still looking at five schools, Kyle Love was just setting up his visits and Chasman Davis had already taken all five of his visits. MSU was battling West Virginia for Davis, who suffered a severe knee injury in January's Cali-Florida Bowl.
The first big surprise of January was the commitment of Olive Branch's Anthony Summers to Mississippi State. Summers had several offers to choose from, but in the end became the first of a very talented crop of Conquistadors to make his intentions known.
Anthony Dixon was leaning MSU's way, but he remained uncommitted for a few more weeks. Dixon picked the Bulldogs. While his selection was not a surprise, it was one of the highlights of a stretch run that resulted in ten commitments.
With the bitter taste of Kenny Ashley's about face, the Bulldogs nabbed up Arnil Stallworth as a post signing day addition. Stallworth showed some promise as a freshman before being lost to injury.
So what changes this year? It is tough to say really. There will be some visits that get taken that perhaps are a surprise. There will be some names removed from the commitment list and one or two more added.
With the commitment of K.J. Wright now in the books, there appears to be one spot left. That spot would likely be for another speedy running back.
Lee Chambers is committed to the Bulldogs and he recently visited Southern Miss. Despite the weekend trip, Chambers reported his commitment to the Bulldogs stood. Lee has canceled a pair of visits to South Carolina and Tennessee, so it appears his commitment is beginning to solidify once again.
As the 2006 season demonstrated, you can never have too many players in the backfield. Decimated by injuries to quarterbacks, fullbacks and tailbacks, the Bulldogs are looking to restock the stable.
The name Robert Elliot has surfaced several times and the talented runner has a visit scheduled to Mississippi State shortly before signing day. Could Elliot be one of the stretch run's surprises? Only time will tell. It will soon be January after all.