The subsequent coaching search as well as an on-going NCAA investigation only made matters more difficult.
Once Coach Sylvester Croom was hired to lead the Maroon and White through the rebuilding process, he was still splitting time between his new job in Starkville and a playoff run at his old job with the Green Bay Packers.
The new Bulldog coaching staff inherited just two commitments towards the 2004 signing class, offensive linemen Roland Terry and Jeffrey Farr.
Both Roland and Jeffrey were recruited by former MSU assistant coach Curly Hallman.
Roland, a life long Bulldog fan, has dealt with back problems throughout his college career. Now healthy, Terry is beginning to make a push towards the two-deep in this is his junior season.
Farr chose the Bulldogs over offers from Middle Tennessee State, South Carolina, Southern Miss, Troy State and Vanderbilt. Unfortunately Jeffrey never saw his college career get on track. Health problems arose and as far as I know Jeffrey gave up football.
The first signee of the Sylvester Croom era was Tuscaloosa, Alabama native Titus Brown. State only had to beat out Southern Miss to get Brown, but to say he made the most of his opportunities would be putting it mildly.
Titus earned Freshman All-SEC honors from his middle linebacker position. After getting to know the defensive end position as a sophomore, Brown once again earned SEC honors after his junior campaign. Heading into his senior season in high school, not one school had offered Titus a scholarship. Now a cornerstone of the Bulldog defense, it's safe to say State found a diamond in the rough.
Offensive lineman Dio Herrera spurned offers from Boston College, Rutgers, South Florida and West Virgina to attend Mississippi State. After struggling to find a spot on the two-deep, Dio elected to transfer to Georgia Southern.
Rob Walker signed with State out of Southwest Community College as a tight end. Walker made the move over to defensive end once he made it to State, but eventually transferred to Southeastern Louisiana to be closer to home.
Anthony Littlejohn held offers from Clemson, Marshall and South Florida, but made his decision to head to Starkville. After a redshirt year, Anthony was named Freshman All-SEC for his play as a reserve weakside linebacker. The junior is expected to see plenty of action this fall for the Coach Ellis Johnson's defense.
Brandon Thornton made a name for himself as a running back at powerhouse Homewood High School near Birmingham, Alabama. Brandon committed to the Bulldogs over Troy and UAB.
Thornton drew high praise for his support role behind Jerious Norwood in 2005. Brandon struggled with injuries and eventually the depth chart in 2006. He was then moved to safety and shortly there after he transferred to UAB to be closer to home.
Keon Humphries played one year of high school football, but his efforts in the 2003 season were enough to earn offers from Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.
Keon had an ankle injury that forced him to take a redshirt year, but Humphries came back to have modest success the following year including a near one-hundred yard, two touchdown game against Murray State. Keon has since been moved to cornerback where he is currently providing depth while he learns the position.
Adam Carlson is currently the starting place kicker at State where he is still attempting to find some consistency. Carlson is reportedly having the best fall camp of his career.
Carlson took over in 2005 after Keith Andrews suffered an injury. In 2006, Carlson won the job out right.
Mario BoBo was one of the more highly recruited prospects in the 2004 class. BoBo made the decision to come to Mississippi State despite offers from Tennessee and Ole Miss.
Mario became a fan favorite for his play on special teams which also earned him Freshman All-SEC honors. BoBo has fought hamstring and shoulder issues his past two seasons, but is expected to provide depth in the Bulldog secondary in 2007.
De'mon Glanton has played every game at State since his redshirt year as a freshman. He is currently running first team at safety. Out of high school Glanton took visits to Duke and Wisconsin, but the only offer he received was from Mississippi State.
Glanton has developed a reputation as a head hunter and is responsible for bring the term "Jimmy Johnsed" into the Bulldog vernacular.
Damien Huren signed with Croom's Bulldogs out of Southwest Community College along with Rob Walker. Huren never made it to campus due to academics and wound up at Southeastern Louisiana.
Huren currrently lives in Lake Charles, Louisiana where he plays safety for the Louisiana Swashbucklers of the Intense Football League, a minor league Arena football league.
Last season Damein lead the league with 13 interceptions, which helped him earn the league's defensive player of the year honors. Huren also won a championship ring as the Swashbucklers won Intense Bowl III.
Fred Akines signed with State over offers from Alabama, Memphis and Ole Miss. Due to some off the field issues, Akines was dimissed from the team and is currently enrolled at Northwest Community College.
Kenneth McLellan chose State over offers from Arkansas, Kansas, Texas Tech and Tennessee. McLelland failed to qualify and the trail on Kenneth goes cold after that.
Michael Henig held offers from Louisville and The Citadel before picking up a late offer from Mississippi State. Henig is now QB1 on the Bulldogs' roster where he has thrown for 1,831 yards and nine touchdowns including an SEC best 384 yard game against Kentucky in 2006.
Henig has been sidelined by injuries on multiple occassions during his career at State. A healthy Henig means a healthy offense, so Bulldog fans are keeping their fingers crossed.
Corey Spells claimed over 30 scholarship offers out of high school. Spells visited Auburn, Wake Forest and Wisconsin in addition to his visit to State.
Spells reported for fall camp with a broken foot which lead to a redshirt year. Off the field issues led to the dismissal of Corey from the Bulldog football program.
Linzy Patterson was a grey shirt signee from the previous class of '03. Linzy redshirted in 2004, but eventually transferred to Murray State for a short time before enrolling at Itawamba Community College. This past February, Patterson signed with UT-Martin.
Anthony Mitchell signed with State, but due to an ACL injury was asked to grey shirt. He agreed to do that, but for whatever reason Anthony never made it to Starkville.
DeMarcus Johnson is considered the best running back to ever play at Banneker High School in Georgia. "Woot", as he is called by friends and family, left the Bulldog football program and attempted to enroll at Alabama State. Johnson was denied admission by the ASU compliance office.
Gabriel O'Neal, better known as Gabe, was pushed into action as a true freshman and is one of the only seniors in the group. Gabe chose State over offers from Auburn, LSU, Memphis, Ole Miss, Southern Miss and West Virginia.
O'Neal has been slowed by injuries in his career, but has always remained one step ahead of his competition for his strongside linebacker spot. The Bulldogs are counting on a big year from Gabe in 2007.
Rory Johnson signed with State after high school, but was forced to attend Hinds Community College after failing to meet NCAA entrance guidelines for freshman.
State backed off of Johnson after his two years at Hinds and he signed with Ole Miss where he had a very nice season. Rory is now trying to make the Green Bay roster as an undrafted free agent.
Jonathon Lowe may be best remembered for his punt return for a touchdown against Florida in 2004. The highlight reel run was the peak of Lowe's Bulldog career. He eventually fell down the depth chart and transferred to Alabama. His status with the Tide is currently in question due to some academic concerns.
Anthony Strauder was a signing day surprise for the Bulldog faithful. Anthony, a one time Southern Miss commitment, held offers from Memphis, Oklahoma State, Southern Miss and Vanderbilt.
Strauder has proven to be a workhouse for the Bulldog offensive line. Anthony has become a fixture at the guard position and is a very solid contributor.
Of the Bulldogs' 23 signees from the 2004 class only ten remain. Three of those ten signees will be seniors this year.
The class finished 60th in the nation and had just four players who rated at least three stars. Two of those, Huren and Johnson, never made it to campus.