MSU Recruiting Notebook

Now that the ink has dried and the dust has settled, the time has come to take a final look back at how it all came together in the end.

Coach Sylvester Croom always makes a point to emphasize that he and his staff always recruit "Mississippi first"

With academics becoming more and more of an issue for many of Mississippi's top prospects, the evaluation process has become even more stringent.

With all but one Bulldog in state signee expected to qualify, it appears the process of recruiting student athletes with increasing emphasis on the student portion of the phrase is paying dividends.

So who won in State?

I would bet I have been asked that question a hundred times since signing day. I would guess that topic is still up for debate because in the end it is all somebody's opinion.

Be that as it may, let us take a few moments to look inside the numbers.

The top 30 Mississippi Prospects is a good place to start.

Mississippi State led the way with 10 signees and six of those earning mention in the top 15.

Southern Miss inked nine of the top 30 which is a program best.

Ole Miss signed one of the state's top 30 prospects.

Five of the state's top 30 elected to leave the state for their college ball and five others did not sign with a division one school on signing day.

Two did sign with Delta State which would tie them with Auburn with two top 30 prospects for the 2008 signing class.

Perhaps stars and recruiting rankings are not your cup of tea. Take quick look at the Clarion-Ledger's All-State teams.

Mississippi State signed nine All-State selections including first team selections John Paul Alford and Tobias Smith, the state's top two offensive line prospects.

Southern Miss came in second once again with eight All-State selections including the crowned jewel of the Magnolia State, DeAndre Brown.

Ole Miss signed one All-State selection, defensive back Derrick Herman of Cleveland.

Southern Miss signed more Dandy Dozen members than any other school. The Golden Eagles were able to land DeAndre Brown, Bo Tillman, Desmond Johnson and Willie Packer.

Mississippi State finished second with three selections, Charles Mitchell, Rashun Dixon and Templeton Hardy.

Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee-Martin also nabbed one of the elite group and two other players, Darius Barksdale and Ken Davis, have not signed a national letter of intent at this time.

Despite options from around the country, it appears there is no place like home.

Of the nation's top 50 prospects nearly half of them elected to stay in state and play closer to friends and family.

The options are certainly more plentiful for the cream of the crop, but in the end sharing the college experience with friends and family appears to still be a big draw.

Of the top 30 prospects only four players spurned offers from in state schools to go out of state. Alonzo Lawrence, Andre Wadley, Marlon Walls and Drew Cole are all leaving the Magnolia state, but they are still within a reasonable driving distance as they are attending school in a state that borders Mississippi.

So do early favorites mean anything?

This time of year the offers are beginning to roll out to high school juniors. There will be several interviews with prospects to gauge their reaction to their most recent offers.

Once the offers are in the prospects' hands, you may want to play close attention to the schools they mention.

Of Mississippi State's 25 signees only four claimed another school as an early leader.

Charles Mitchell was partial to LSU and then to Ole Miss before leaning MSU's way towards the end of football season.

Arceto Clark professed an early affection for the ACC and Clemson, but changed his thinking over the summer.

Kendrick Cook and Nelson Hurst grew up fans of Auburn and Alabama respectively. Neither picked up an offer from their childhood favorites, so now they get four years to play against them.

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