MSU Signees Heath Hutchins and Pernell McPhee

Itawamba Community College (Fulton, MS) head football coach Jeff Terrell talks about Heath Hutchins and Pernell McPhee both of whom signed with Mississippi State during the December/January signing period.

Punter Heath Hutchins is a two-time All-American who led the nation in punting his sophomore season.

Jeff Terrell - "We knew the first few days he was here as a freshman that we were very lucky some four-year college didn't sign him. He's got great talent. He's a very coachable kid and very versatile punter.

"His hang time is really great. He pinned other teams inside the 10-yard line on his kicks a lot for us. Another great thing about him is how well he did this year despite us not having as good of punt coverage team as we have had in the past. I think he led the nation in punting for all but one week this season."

Would you say he's got the potential to play in the NFL some day?
"It's really hard to tell with punters and kickers, but he certainly has the potential."

Defensive End Pernell McPhee is also a two-time All-American who led the Mississippi junior college in sacks both years he attended ICC.

"He's a tremendous story for us. Pernell is one of the first players that we have had that was second-team All-American his first season with us, then first-team All-American his second year. I believe he led the state in sacks both years that he was here. He arrived here at 6-4 and 218 pounds and he's leaving here 6-4, 270 pounds. He's just gotten better and better. He was an excellent pass-rusher when he got here, now he's not only excellent at that, but he's also become good against the run.

"He's a great kid who is very coachable and he's still very humble. He hasn't let all of this change him at all. If you talked to the teachers at our school and mentioned Pernell to them they would all have smiles on their faces. He's that kind of kid."

How does he compare to other guys that you have had who have gone on to play in the NFL? "He's definitely one of the best defensive ends that I have ever coached. And I coached Andrew Williams, who was the 56th player drafted, and Carlos (Jerome) McDougle, who was the 15th player drafted, while at Hinds (Community College). He is in that class of players."

Pernell could have gone just about anywhere in the country. Why do you think he ultimately decided on Mississippi State?
"I think one of the reasons was that he fell in love with northeast Mississippi and I think he wanted to stay near what had become home to him."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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