Chris McNeil Q & A: Part One

The month of January is one of the most active if not the most active month on the recruiting calendar. There will be commitments, decommitments and even a few rumors, if you can imagine that. The month will be filled with recruiting visits. Former Mississippi State Bulldog Chris McNeil took some time out to explain the recruiting weekend from the perspective of a player host.

Chris McNeil Profile

SR: Chris when did you first begin hosting prospects on official visits and how does a player get chosen to be a host?

CM: I started hosting my true freshman year. I am not exactly sure what Coach Croom's criteria is, because my last two years up there he was just coming in. He liked using some of the younger guys. Coach Sherrill would always pick guys who were good personality matches for the guys coming in. He wanted guys who were going to be able to talk with the parents and put a good face on the University.

SR: Is there a meeting of some sort with the compliance staff before a player can host a prospect to go over the NCAA guidelines?

CM: They brought us in because they wanted everybody to know what you could and could not do. They didn't want you giving money to the kids from the money you got to take them out and things like that. There were certain rules you had to go by. They had a little orientation deal with everyone before you got to host just to make sure everyone understood the rules. Everybody pretty much had a good understanding of what to do and what not to do.

SR: How were the player hosts matched up with the visiting prospects?

CM: It all depended really. I hosted quarterbacks, offensive linemen or just whatever. A lot of who you hosted depended on personality and what you may have in common with the prospect. Some of our offensive linemen were big country boys, so they would put them with guys who liked to hunt and fish and things like that. A lot of it had to do with what you liked to do. They were going to find the best fit.

SR: So what kinds of things would you all do and what were the responsibilites of the host?

CM: When I was coming out you had to do academic orientation, you had a meeting with the president and meetings with just about every staff member you could think of. You eat like a king. You get to eat at the best restaurants in town. At night they kind of cut you loose, so you could go out with the players some. After the Colorado deal they started a curfew. We just kind of took them around town and introduced them to people and showed them what we did when we had some time off.

SR: Did you ever hear from any of the prospects after their visits?

CM: You weren't allowed to stay in touch with them. Once they left campus, it would have been illegal for me to contact them. Once you saw them on the visit that was pretty much it. You know there are rules about the coaches can only call a certain number of times and things like that. Once they left the campus it was pretty much up to the coaches what happened.

SR: How did you find out if and when a prospect committed to MSU?

CM: The coaches would come in and tell us we must have done a good job, because the kid committed this morning. Most of the time you took them out on Friday and Saturday night and then they had a meeting with the head coach on Sunday morning. Guys pretty much committed then, that morning.

SR: I am sure it was a source of pride to know that the prospect you hosted decided to choose MSU?

CM: It was always a big thing to know that your guy was one of the guys that committed. You knew that when more guys you hosted committed, they were going to ask you to host again. That was always a deal that would make sure you got to keep hosting.

SR: What were your impressions of the prospects you hosted through the years.

CM: There were so many players that came through. It was kind of neat to get to see all of the different personalities. You would have guys that came in from California and they would dress a little bit different than everybody else did. You would have some kids come in that thought they were going to be the next Herschel Walker. It's all part of it. You knew they were still in high school and you just hoped it all panned out and they came to State.

SR: Did hosting ever interfere with your studies or preparation time for your own football career? Was it difficult to schedule everything?

CM: It never took away from football. We all still went to all of our workouts and things like that. You would always plan ahead. All of the guys would all get together and we would kind of decide what all we wanted to do. We wanted to do everything together. That was always the big thing with us. We wanted to show team unity and that everyone does everything together as a group.

SR: You played under two different coaching staffs. Were there a lot of differences in the approach between the two coaches?

CM: There were a lot of similarities. For the most part it was all pretty much the same. The coaches all had their own aspects of recruiting that they did, but from the players' end it was all the same. We took them out and just tried to answer all of their questions about any of the situations they were going to be looking in to. I tried to always be as truthful with the kids as I could be. I would tell them this is how things are going to be, so they wouldn't come in and be shell-shocked.

SR: Did you follow recruiting very closely as a player? Did you make it a point to keep up with the prospects MSU was recruiting?

CM: I always tried to keep up with where the guys went that I hosted or the guys that I met on the visits. Recruiting is a lot of fun, but you can never tell if a kid is going to be great, because he is still in high school. We had some five star guys that came in and couldn't play a lick and then we had some guys that came in that weren't recruited by anybody and they would knock your block off, David Stewart for one. He didn't get recruited by hardly anybody and he would drive you straight in the ground. He is probably the meanest guy I ever played with.

SR: Was there every any concern among the players about a top recruit being recruited at their spot or was it more of a motivational tool?

CM: You always want to see your team grow. I was confident enough to know that no one was just going to come in and take my spot. You have to go out and recruit the best guys. You need quality depth and you need all of the good guys you can get. It's a long season and people are going to get hurt. You just need all the help you can get.

Catch part two of our conversation with Chris tomorrow where he talks about good times, bad times and his time with the Miami Dolphins.

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