Georgia Military Players Start to Lean

A November 28, 2001 interview with Georgia Military College offensive coordinator Jeff Tatum reveals where top players like OL Manuel Dickson and DB Corey Peoples might be leaning. This is a special story provided to us by Gene Swindoll, who is the publisher of

Coach Tatum, who coached at Mississippi Delta CC for 11 years (Mississippi State senior defensive tackle Dorsett Davis was at MDCC when he coached there) and coached Mississippi State junior cornerback Korey Banks at Garden City, has several player on his Georgia Military College team that Mississippi State is recruiting. Georgia Military plays Butler County CC in a bowl game this weekend that could determine the junior college national champion. In fact, J. C. Grid-Wire stated in their latest issue that if GMC wins this weekend, they will be the junior college national champion. Even with that game coming up, he took time out of his busy day to talk to me about several GMC players that Mississippi State is recruiting.

You have a cornerback, Corey Peoples, who was selected to J.C. Grid-Wire's All-American team as a third team selection. I have seen several different sizes for Corey. What is his actual size and his forty yard dash?
Coach Tatum: "He is 6-1, 205 pounds and probably runs the forty in 4.5 to 4.4. He runs really well. We don't time forties here. Our philosophy here is you either make plays or you don't."

What schools, other than Mississippi State, are recruiting him?
Coach Tatum: "South Carolina, Auburn and Clemson. You can throw Baylor in there to but I don't think he will visit them because there are enough good programs between here and Texas so that he can get home quickly. It's not that he wants to stay close to home but the fact that he can get home quickly. He wants to stay in the southeast. His hometown is Bishopville, South Carolina."

Is he leaning to any school right now?
Coach Tatum: "Right now, if somebody made him make a decision today he would probably go to South Carolina."

How serious is he about Mississippi State?
Coach Tatum: "He was the one who came to me to ask about Mississippi State. He is interested in them because of their tradition of sending defensive backs to the NFL, players like (Fred) Smoot and Robert Bean. Robert Bean played (at Georgia Military College). He asked me if I knew anybody at Mississippi State. He was the one who approached me first. That tells me that he is very interested in Mississippi State."

Has Mississippi State set up an official visit for Corey?
Coach Tatum: "They haven't set up a visit yet because he is going to graduate after Christmas. A lot of our guys want to go and visit while school is in session so that they can see what the players and school is really like. I figure (Mississippi State) will set something up after Christmas."

When you say he will graduate after Christmas, do you mean that he will graduate in May?
Coach Tatum: "Right."

There is a new rule in the SEC where a junior college player has to be at the junior college he graduates from for at least three straight semesters including the semester he graduates from the junior college. Does he pass that rule?
Coach Tatum: "Yes, he has been here his freshman and sophomore years."

I believe Mississippi State is recruiting another defensive back there. Do you know if that is true?
Coach Tatum: "They have talked to Jermaine Harris, a 6-4, 205, free safety. He will be a March grad. We are on the quarter system."

Is Mississippi State still showing interest in Jermaine?
Coach Tatum: "I think they are."

What other schools are recruiting Jermaine?
Coach Tatum: "Jermaine is being recruited by Georgia Tech. His dad was an All-American at Tech and played in the NFL for 8 or 9 years. His uncle is Franco Harris (who played in the NFL for many years with the Pittsburgh Steelers). He is a great kid who has real good grades. He is going to visit Kentucky in a week or two. Tech has not set up a visit with him but they are recruiting him pretty hard. Alabama called in today and wanted some info about him. Alabama also called today to get some information about Corey. Jermaine is one of those guys who doesn't want to spread himself too thin. He and his dad, who has been through all of this himself, know what he is looking for in a school. He will put a lot of thought into it because he knows it is a very important decision."

Are there any other players that Mississippi State is recruiting?
Coach Tatum: "They are also recruiting (offensive lineman) Manuel Dickson. He is supposed to visit them in a week or so. Auburn, South Carolina, UAB and Mississippi State are the ones he is most interested in."

When did State first show interest in him?
Coach Tatum: "They called about him early in the year but they thought he was going to go to Auburn so they fell off of him. However, they got excited about him later on. I think State has a great shot at him. I think the visit will have a lot to do with it."

I don't think State's classes will be in at that time. Do you think that will matter that much?
Coach Tatum: "That is the disadvantage to being a mid-term guy. He knows there will be nobody there but that doesn't bother him because he can't wait until after Christmas to visit. He has to make his decision soon. (Our) guys trust us enough to know if we tell them it is a good place, they know they will be ok."

What position does he play and what is his size?
Coach Tatum: "He is 6-4 and about 285. He plays guard but could really play any offensive line position. I think State (if he signs with them) may end up moving him to center. He plays guard for us right now but could be our center. I know they are probably going to try him at center in the spring. They are taking our word because they have never seen him play center. He was our backup center last fall. We have a smaller guy playing center so he is playing guard. I know he can play center and (Mississippi State) trusts us."

What is his forty speed?
Coach Tatum: "He runs a 4.9 or 5.0 flat. He runs really good. He has great feet. He could play defensive line for us. He could be a D-I defensive lineman but his mentality is more like an offensive lineman."

You said earlier that MSU thought he was going to Auburn. Where does Manuel stand with Auburn?
Coach Tatum: "I really don't know. At the start of the season they said they were going to sign several juco offensive linemen but now they are saying that they aren't going to sign any juco offensive linemen. I believe it is one of those things where they had three offensive linemen grow up who they were not expecting to be ready to play for them."

Is he the last player that Mississippi State is looking at?
Coach Tatum: "They are also looking at our kicker. The kid's name is Scott Campbell. He is about 6-1 and weighs 215 to 220. He was pre-season All-American punter but he is a field goal kicker and the all-time leading scorer in high school football history. He is from Clemson, South Carolina."

Who else is looking at him other than Mississippi State?
Coach Tatum: "Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and South Carolina. Clemson doesn't really need a kicker. His dad actually works for Clemson University and his brother kicked for Clemson. His dad played for South Carolina. Everybody asks him if his heart is set on kicking for Clemson. He says, 'no, I'm going to go where they want me.' "

How serious do you believe State is about him?
Coach Tatum: "They requested film yesterday. I sent it out yesterday and they got it today. I'm not really sure how much interest they have in him because I don't know enough about the Mississippi State team to know what kind of needs they have."

What has been his longest field goal this year?
Coach Tatum: "He hit the crossbar from 58 and has made one from 57."

Does he kick his kickoffs consistently into the endzone?
Coach Tatum: "He is consistently inside the five. He could kick the ball out of the endzone but we want to pin them inside the 20. He has a strong leg."

When does he graduate?
Coach Tatum: " He will be a May grad."

You've had some great kickers at Georgia Military, haven't you?
Coach Tatum: "Our kicker last year is kicking at Delaware State and the guy the year before that is kicking at Texas Tech. The kicker before that is kicking at South Carolina. The biggest difference is (D-I coaches) know what they are getting because Scott kicked off of the ground for two year. Whereas, you get a high school kicker who hasn't kicked off the ground and you have questions about how well he will be able to kick off of the ground."

Are those all of your players that MSU has shown interest in?
Coach Tatum: "Those are the four guys that Jim (Tompkins) has shown a lot of interest in."

Thanks a lot for you time, Coach Tatum. I really do appreciate it.
Coach Tatum: "We do this every day and understand what you are doing. Anyway we can help you let us know. We feel this helps our guys."

Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (http://mississippistate.thei, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at

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