Tony Hughes - "I think some people on the staff here knew me from the past and recommended me to Coach Mullen due to the success that I have had in the state of Mississippi the last few years. He became interested and we talked. One thing led to another and I ended up here."
Did you know much about Coach Mullen prior to meeting him during the interview process?
"Not much other than knowing the tremendous job they did at Utah and Florida. But on a personal basis, I didn't know a lot about him."
What are your impressions of him now that you've had a chance to meet him?
"He's highly energetic and excitable. He's on a mission and is excited about what he is going to do here at Mississippi State. I even think during the interview process I may have even gotten him excited (laugh). In fact, we got each other fired up because I could see his vision and the things that he is bringing to the table. I also think there are things I can bring to the table as well that will help us get to where we all want to go."
Coach Mullen describes you as a "tremendous recruiter." Tell me about your recruiting philosophy?
"I think the most important thing is when you are recruiting a kid you are not just recruiting that kid but you are recruiting the entire family - those people who are important in his life whether it's his parents, his grand momma, grand daddy, the people in the school; the principal, the counselor, the superintendent. You recruit everybody in that kid's circle. And you recruit them as hard as you recruit the kid."
"People will know if you are honest; they know if you are sincere. And I'm been able to do well because people trust me with their kids. It's like walking your kid out to the bus stop and watch them get on the bus. You trust that bus driver with your kid. So, when you send a kid off to college, you trust somebody who will be honest with you and communicate with you the whole time the kid is there."
You were one of the coaches that help create this year's Ole Miss team due, in part, to your outstanding recruiting while you were there. Do you think the same thing can be accomplished here at Mississippi State?
"No question, no question. But it took time to do it. We had a foundation, we had a plan. We went to work to find those athletes that fit in to what our goals were for the program. And it will be the same thing here with Coach Mullen's plans - the foundation, the groundwork, identifying those players who can come in here and be difference makers who will help us achieve the same goals."
You've been recruiting the state of Mississippi for a number of years while on the staffs of Southern Miss and Ole Miss, so you know most of the players that Mississippi State currently has its roster. Is there already a foundation, talent-wise, in place to build a good team?
"Sure, because Mississippi State always recruited really well in this state. It's like this - there are certain kids that love Mississippi State and are going to come here. Some of those kids were the top athletes in the state. And a lot of those kids were wanted by schools across the country and SEC, but they are here. Those kids will be competitive in the SEC and help us win a lot of football games."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.