Signing Day Party at Harvey's

[Premium article] Assistant coach Jim Tompkins and graduate assistant coach Nick Brett attended the signing day party at Harvey's in Starkville. Included is Coach Tompkin's comments about this year's recruiting class and a few wars stories from this year's recruiting.

What he thought about this year's class compared to other years.
"We thought last year we had a real good class. We all said that was the best one that we have had. We think this year is better than last year."

Recruiting war stories.
"We are very happy about this year's class, but I'm going to say this, this week has been a stressful week. It has been a stressful week. Last night, for example, I am dealing with a guy. Last night at 10:30, he was going to (sign with us). Well, this morning something else happens and they go back and forth. His momma goes to school to sign and he is confused. We ended up getting him.

"I am going to bed about 11:30 and the phone rings. My wife got it and told me you've got to talk. It was a kid that has been committed to us months ago. I didn't even know he had visited somewhere this past week. His daddy had a lot of questions and we had to answer them.

"Coach Sherrill really worked hard in recruiting this year. He was with me visiting in Georgia when he found out about his wife and the things she had to go through. We had to get back so he could go be with her. All that happened right in the middle of recruiting.

"I am a guy that likes recruiting, but I really don't like the last week of recruiting. Even if it's guys that we have committed, it's still not fun because things happen. I understand in recruiting everything is fair but it's like love and war; anything goes. You have to fight through this. I don't really trust getting one until the fax comes in. I've learned my lesson."

His comments on the new staff members.
"We have five new staff members with us. I had known several of them before. I want you to know they really, really worked very hard in recruiting. All the coaches really worked good together. We are excited about them. That's the best term I can use, excitement. Our kids are excited about them to. We don't want to wait around two or three years to get back. That is what we are expecting to do; to get back. We are going to get over that hump and get back this year."

How he gets kids to come to Starkville from Atlanta, Georgia.
"I said it is not all that hard. Starkville is a small town and Atlanta is a big city with all kinds of stuff going on. Over here, you have a pretty campus, trees, green grass, blue sky, good-looking girls, we graduate our players and we are on tv all the time. It's not really hard for me to sell people on coming here and playing ball and getting a degree. Instead of being a minus, it's kind of a plus. We tell them it is a college town. It's not a big city. If you want all those sky scrapers, then go to Georgia Tech."


After his opening comments, Coach Tompkins talked about each player while the folks at the party watched game tapes of each player.

DL Corey Clark:
"I met Corey at our camp last summer. He is an inside guy who is very physical. He is about 300 pounds. He just kinds of mauls you. He was highly, highly recruited. As you know, he was one of the top kids in the state. We had to beat everybody on him. We thought at the start, LSU was our competition, but we had to beat a lot of folks. He told me last summer, 'I just love Mississippi State', but it was still a tough job recruiting him."

DL Devrick Hampton:
"He is a big defensive lineman that we think is going to be a good player for us. He is very physical. I think he has put on 10 pounds. He committed to us on his visit. We think that he will be an inside guy for us. He is a very active type guy. He can run. He may be able to help us in a hurry."

DL Rex Hill:
"He was in the Florida-California all-star game. He is a big guy who can run and move. We are pretty excited about him.

"He is from a different part of the country. He is from the Key West. The way we got on him is he has folks in the Delta.He has a grandfather in the Delta and his mother wanted him to go to school in Mississippi.

"I made a trip to see him when we had the coaching change. I flew down to Miami. After about 10 delays, I finally got to Miami. I drove to Key West and that is no short hop. I had to see Rex that day. I was supposed to get there before school was out, but I ended up getting there at 8:15 that night. I tried to call his house; no answer. He was playing basketball the next day but I had to see him. His mother said that he works at Miami Sub at night. I went into the first Miami Sub that I saw. It was all Cubans. They can't understand me and I can't understand them. I finally thought that he might be working in the kitchen, so I go into the kitchen. They didn't like that. They got mad at me and I heard the word police; they are going to call the police. I got out of there and went downtown. I go over to an area where there was a pickup basketball game. I finally found somebody who knew Rex Hill. He told me that I needed to go to another game and get somebody who knows him and has a car. We rounded him up about 9 at night and I kept him until about 11. He said, 'I'm going to be at Mississippi State.' "

DL Andrew Powell:
"His coach is Al Morrell. His son is Tommy Morrell, who played here a few years ago. You go to that high school and they have Mississippi State stuff everywhere. This kid was the defensive player of the year in that region. He won a lot of awards. He really had an outstanding year. Florida and Miami tried to get in there after he committed, but he never seemed to be a problem after he committed. He liked Mississippi State during his visit. His coach and Tommy came up on his visit. He is going to qualify."

DE Sandy Quinn:
"We think when we play four defensive linemen, he will probably be an outside-type guy for us."

DE Avery Hannibal:
"He is a guy who committed to me early. He is 6-2, 255 and is a two-time wrestling champion. His coach told me he is just a freak of nature. He is an explosive-type kid. People in his community absolutely love him. He is already qualified. His mother came down here with him on his visit. She is from New Jersey and was concerned about her son going to Mississippi. She came down here and like most everybody else, she didn't want to leave. That was the first time in ten years that she had been out of the state of Georgia. This is a kid that you are going to fall in love with. He is a very active guy who is unselfish and creates havoc."

LB Brad Horton:
"He is a very, very good player that you sometimes find on a bad team. To me, he might be the sleeper in this entire class. He is fast and can run well. He might be like Greg Favors was for us a few years ago. He could probably play any of the linebackers positions. He is 6-1, 230, a nice looking kid, great student who has already qualified. He plays a lot of different spots but he is going to be a linebacker. Coach (Glenn) Davis likes him as a fullback but we don't want to hear too much of that. He is a kid that is well thought of. He is a class type kid. He has a lot of good qualities."

LB Michael Heard:
"This is the kid I had the most stress with. Georgia offered him early, but he didn't take them up on it. Then, he wanted to commit to them but they had already given it to somebody else. We went back and forth with that. We offered him about Christmas but then had to fight Georgia and Clemson for him. The last two days it has been a knock down drag out fight. He is 6-3 to 6-4, about 230. He is very talented. He is a different kind of guy. He is a streamline guy who can run like crazy. He runs under 4.6."

DB Quinton Culberson:
"We got 3 of the top 14 (DBs) in the south. Quinton Culberson is a great, great player. He is a Parade All-American. He can do everything. He will hit you, he can run, he can catch. He is strong and fast and has football savvy. We think he can play as a freshman. We really wanted this guy. We think that we have some freshmen DBs that can really some things to our team this year. This is one of the top DBs in the nation. He can play on either side of the ball. I coach defense and he wants to play defense. He probably wouldn't mind if we put him at receiver and did a couple of things with him. He is an excited player. You are going to love him."

DB Eric Fuller:
"This is one of just two jucos that we signed. He is a nice-looking kid. We think he can fit at a lot of places. We were glad to get him. He can play corner or safety for us. He is strong and fast. We expect him to contribute right off the bat. He had a lot of people after him. He had a great visit (at MSU)."

DB Adrian Griffin:
"I recruited him. He is from the same school that (former MSU DB) Walt Harris was from. He is distantly related to Walt. He told me early that he really liked Mississippi State, but, all of a sudden, he committed to South Carolina, then he committed to Arkansas. Finally, we got him back and on his visit he committed. He is a true corner and has that corner mentality. He will hit you for a small cornerback. There is nothing shy about him at all. He loves to play the game of football. He had a great career at LaGrange. To me, he was the best player on their team. They had one player going to South Carolina and one going to Florida. I think he can do some things for us early (in his career). He is qualified. We had to beat a lot of people to get him."

DB Jeramie Johnson:
"He is from the same team that Nick Turner and James Redmond played on, Booker T. Washington in inner city Atlanta. They had three kids on that team that signed Division-I. I think that Jeramie is the best of the three. He makes a lot of plays. He loves to play the game. He is a playmaker. He can play either corner or safety. He is a great kid but he will play nasty if he needs to. He is a very good character guy and is qualified."

DB Rickey Wright:
"We were really glad to get him. We were glad to get a kid from South Panola. He is going to be a big DB. We think he will be a safety for us. He is a pretty impressive kid to me. I didn't recruit him, but I liked him when he visited (MSU)."

WR Jason Husband:
"The thing we like about him is he is a big receiver. We signed some smallish guys last year and we felt that we needed to sign some bigger guys. He made some big plays during the year. We think he can add some things to our team because of his size."

ATH Akeem Lofton:
"Akeem is an athlete. I can't tell you what position he will play for us. He played quarterback in high school. If you played an option game, he could play quarterback for you. He is super athletic. We see him right now as a corner. He could play corner and be a return man. He is a whale of an athlete. He is a top-notch baseball player, too. He is a centerfielder who can cover like crazy in the outfield. We had a little battle with him. We had him, then lost him and then got him back."

WR Joey Sanders:
"What we like about him is he is a tall guy who has great, great hand-eye coordination. That is the best thing he has. He just catches balls. We liked him when we saw him in our camp last summer. We knew that was a receiver that we really needed. He is about 6-1. He is a top student who is a 3+ (GPA). A lot of people wanted him. We sweated the school up the road (Ole Miss) heavy on him late. They were trying to sell him not to go with the quarterback, go with someone else. His momma and daddy wanted him here hard the entire time so we had some help there."

OL Brian Anderson:
"He is a great big, old guy. He is an offensive lineman, but he could play defense, too. Those guys usually make the best offensive linemen. We picked him out in camp because we noticed that he was a big guy with tremendous flexibility. He can bend down and put his palms flat on the ground. Your better players have good flexibility. He is going to be a good player for us but he will have to develop. All of his football is in front of him. He is a good solid kid from a good family."

OL Royce Blackledge:
"He is little bit smaller than some of the other ones, but he is very athletic and a very good player. We had to beat several schools for him. Alabama signed one kid off that team and we think Royce is a lot better than him. When you really study this guy, you see him do a whole lot of good things."

OL Donovan Davis:
"He is the other Parade All-American that we signed. He is a big, good-looking kid who could have gone anywhere in the country. He can mash you. He man-handles people. He has a chance to be like one of those really good ones that we have had here in the past. It is tough for an offensive lineman to play early, but he is certainly a talented guy."

OL Lance Fremin:
"Lance is going to play center for us. He is kind of short but we had a short center from Starkville when I first came here that was a very good center for us, Lee Ford. He is close to 6-2, 270. Lance can pull and really block you in the open field. He is very athletic and doesn't lose his feet and he has a mean streak. We aren't really concerned about the height and think that he is going to be a really good player for us. We liked him from day one, all of our coaches did."

OL David Price:
"He is a big, old mauler. We think he will be a guard for us. He was in the Florida-California game. He had a 1100+ on the SAT. He comes from a very good family. He has been a four-year starter at a big high school and a two-year captain. He is a guy who is nasty playing, but just a gentle person off the field."

QB Omarr Conner:
"We absolutely loved this guy. He is the one that we wanted all the time and we thought that we were going to get him all the time. We just kept wanting him to say yes, he was coming to Mississippi State. He waited a little while to do it. Besides being so athletic, he can throw a tight, tight ball. He is tough. He can see the field well. We think he will be one of those active quarterbacks who can do a lot of thing. He will be pretty exciting to watch. He has it all. There were a lot of people who recruited him."

QB Tyler Threadgill:
"He can absolutely fly. His daddy (Bruce Threadgill) played quarterback here. We will give him a chance to play quarterback. He could also play other positions. You remember (Kentucky returner) Derrick Abney? Tyler was at that ballgame. I told him after that game, 'Tyler, that's who you look like to me'. I believe he can be that kind of player. He is confident and cocky enough to go dow it."

RB Jason Jude:
"Jason is a big running back that we needed to sign. He committed to Auburn early. They signed a lot of running backs and he kind of got mad about that. Coach (Ron) Cooper is friends with the family. He came in here, so we were able to get him interested. All of sudden, we were able to get him. He is a big running back that we feel will be a big asset. I kind of thought that he might be similar to (former MSU running back) Michael Davis that was here a few years go. He is not as big as Michael but he is faster. He is another kid that has great character."

TE Eric Butler:
"He is a guy that could play outside linebacker, too. He is a very athletic tight end. He is going to be get bigger and bigger. He should be a very good player for us. He was committed to someone else, so we had to break him away. I didn't have much hope at one time. We are glad that that worked out."

TE Dezmond Sherrod: "This is another one that we had a lot of headaches with, I'm telling you that. He committed to Alabama, then all of a sudden we got a call from the parents who wanted to know if we would still take him. We went back and forth with him for the last three days. We are really glad to get him. What a class kid he is and I mean a class kid. He is a great student. He has been over here a lot. Everytime you turned around, he was here."


Gene Swindoll is the publisher and owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial site for Mississippi State sports since October, 1996. He can be reached by email at swindoll@genespage.com


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