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Monday Morning Coffee Break

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Well, MSU keeps winning and the polls keep responding. Last week, MSU was ranked 8th and 10th in the AP and USA Today/ESPN polls, moving up from 16th and 17th. This week, neither one of those polls were out when I was writing this MMCF, but the Sporting News poll and the FOXSports poll are out and both have our Bulldogs 4th in the nation.

4th in the nation! Amazing, absolutely amazing. Of course this team deserves those type accolades but it is still amazing national polls now realize it. How many times have we seen Mississippi State called Mississippi or Ole Miss by the national media.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself to see if I'm just dreaming. This season is becoming more and more like the Final Four season all over, but this time, unlike the Final Four season, we know what it feels like to reach that Final Four pinnacle and it makes the potential we see in this season even more exciting.

It just goes to show you what a great coaching staff and great players can do when they are put together by a man, Rick Stansbury, who is the ultimate at understanding how to get the best out of people.

And to think when he was first hired, some MSU fans were saying Rick Stansbury couldn't coach, all he could do was recruit. Some even said he had no clue when it came to on-the-court X's and O's. Even as late as a couple of years ago he was rumored to be on the hot seat. But the one thing those fans forgot is the man knows the X's and O's of people. He knows how to turn a group of talented players into a talented team instead of just having a team that is composed of talented players.

Just goes to show you what patience can do when you allow a person like that to grow into his job.

Tooting my own horn, I always knew Rick was one of the hardest workers in the business when it came to recruiting. The man left absolutely no stone unturned when it came to recruiting a player. He knew the kid and he knew everybody that was important to the kid. I knew he would be the same way when it came to being a head coach. And once he was given the opportunity to bring in assistant coaches that matched his work ethic and talent and they brought in the same type players, then the sky was the limit.

Now, he is not only no longer on the hot seat but has moved that hot seat to the fans. Will we respond the same way he did by doing what is necessary?

By that, I mean will we purchase tickets to the games AND more importantly ATTEND the games? So far, we seem to be meeting the challenge.

MSU basketball fans are following this basketball team to every arena they are playing in. MSU had more fans than then 5th ranked Oklahoma when the two teams played in New Orleans. Even when MSU played South Alabama on their own home court, MSU fans told me that MSU had more fans than USA. And MSU had about 3,000 of the 8,000+ fans who attended the game against UAB on their home court. It was one of the biggest crowds in UAB history.

Fans are now even posting on message boards how to buy tickets to upcoming games so that they can all sit together. I have a pretty good idea there are a lot of athletic directors that like to see MSU coming to town because of the extra money they generate by ticket sales, although I have a feeling their coaches don't feel the same way.

Now, MSU is ready to battle the 14th ranked Florida Gators in the Hump Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on ESPN. Will MSU have to sell tickets in the rafters for this game? Will folks have to hang from the Final Four banner that is starting to look lonely for a Final Four mate banner? Will the sound level in the Hump reach new heights? Let's hope so.

Good job MSU fans. You are responding in the same manner Rick Stansbury did when he was sitting on that hot seat. As the saying goes, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."

Not to be forgotten....

The MSU's men's team is not the only one having a great year. Sharon Fanning's women's team doing their part as well.

With super sophomore Tan White once again having a great season and everybody's All-American LaToya Thomas performing as usual, the Lady Bulldogs were already a match for most teams.

Add three splendid true freshmen to the mix, Doceide Warren, Mamie McKinney and Blessing Chekwa, and you have a team that can compete with just about any team in the nation.

The 17th ranked Lady Bulldogs will meet the UAB Blazers in Humphrey Coliseum tonight at 7 p.m.


I interviewed 11 recruits Sunday afternoon. There was some great news and not so great news. The great news first.

Collins High School defensive lineman Corey Clark said he is an MSU lean now. Although he told me he was already leaning that way prior to new MSU DL coach John Blake visiting him, Blake was extremely impressive and that appears to have help MSU tremendously. Although he didn't come right out and say it, I strongly suspect Clark will be a Bulldog. He will visit MSU on Jan. 17th. He also will visit Ole Miss on Jan. 10th, LSU on Jan. 24th and has already visited Southern Miss in December.

Other good news was the commitments of Akeem Lofton (will visit MSU Jan. 17th.), Brad Horton (will visit MSU Jan. 17th) and Tyler Threadgill (will visit MSU Jan. 31st) appear to be very strong despite pressure from other schools.

6-2, 240-pound fullback LeRon McClain now has MSU, Ole Miss and Ohio State as his leaders. Although he kept mentioning MSU first when he talked about schools, he said all three are even. His visit to MSU is Jan. 24th, while he will visit Alabama on Jan. 10th, Ole Miss on Jan. 17th and UAB on Jan. 31st. He took an unofficial visit to Ohio State during the holidays and came away impressed. Tennessee is also calling and trying to get him interested in them.

Although I wasn't able to talk to him because he was working, I have been told that Columbus High School DE Viciente DeLoach, an Auburn commitment, will very likely visit MSU on Jan. 17th.

A new name on the block. Lee High School (Huntsville, AL) DL Amobi Okoye (6-2, 275, 4.9) will visit MSU on the 24th. He will also visit UAB and is talking to other schools about visiting. Other schools showing interest are Louisville, Southern Miss, Ole Miss and Auburn.

Provine High School DB Quinton Culberson said he is interested in five schools, MSU, Florida, Ole Miss, LSU and Southern Miss. He said all are equal at this point.

Mize High School athlete Jay Johnson has received calls from MSU but no visit has been set up. The same can be said for Frayser High School (Memphis, TN) RB Jamarcus Gaithers.

Carroll High School (Southlake, TX) DE/LB Jake Benoist said he expects to visit MSU this coming weekend, although he hasn't heard from MSU for a few weeks.

In the not so good news category, Caledonia High School TE Dezmond Sherrod now has three leaders, Ole Miss, Marshall and West Virginia. The staff shakeup hurt MSU with him because Sparky Woods was recruiting him. However, he is still scheduled to visit MSU this coming weekend.

Grant Alford also had interviewed three players recently.

Jeremy Pittman and Willie Shelton are no longer being recruited by MSU. A third player, 6-1, 200, 4.5, DE Michael Heard is coming in for a visit on January 24th. He is down to MSU, Clemson and Georgia as his final three schools. He has no leader at this point.

MSU commitments and signees to date:

Scott Shurden, K, 5-8, 170, Neshoba Central HS.
Tyler Threadgill, QB, 6-0, 185, 4.48, Philadelphia HS.
Brian Anderson, OL, 6-5, 280, 5.2, Patrician Academy (Butler, AL).
Royce Blackledge, OL, 6-4, 270, 4.9, Northeast Jones HS (Laurel, MS.)
Donovan Davis, OL, 6-6, 305, 5.3, Callaway HS.
Lance Fremin, OL, 6-2, 275, 5.1, Starkville HS.
JJ Grant, DE, 6-4, 250, 4.8, Butler (KS) CC.
Avery Hannibal, DE, 6-1.5, 245, 4.75, Troup County (GA) HS.
(SIGNEE) Deljuan Robinson, DL, 6-5, 290, 4.8, Hernando (MS) HS.
Ken Griffith - LB, 6-3, 245, 4.8+, Brandon HS.
Brad Horton, LB, 6-1, 230, 4.6, Spencer HS (Columbus, GA.)
Quinton McCrary, LB/DB, 6-2, 205, Columbus HS.
(SIGNEE) David Heard, DB, 6-0, 185, Vicksburg HS.
Akeem Lofton, ATH, 5-11, 175, 4.6, Wayne County HS.
(SIGNEE) Chris Swain, DB, 6-0, 190, 4.5, Jones County JC

Well, that wraps up this week's edition of the Monday Morning Bulldog Coffee Break.

Have a great Bulldog week!

Gene Swindoll

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Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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