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October 9, 2006It has been five long years since the Bulldogs have had a winning season. Many different reasons can be attributed to the losing seasons, but one reason has been pointed out for Bulldogs; a lack of talent and depth. Coach Croom took over the reigns of the program three years ago and has finally begun to make his mark on State's recruiting.
Mississippi State has 26 commits and it is been somewhat of a question of whether or not the Bulldogs can keep their commitments committed.
"We are going to continue to do what we have been doing," recruiting coordinator Coach Shane Beamer committed. "We are going to write them every week, call them every week, and text them every chance we get. The guys that we are recruiting have not given us any indication to think otherwise. I know some things have been going around the Internet and some fans may be concern about, but the guys that we are recruiting knew going in that we are still in the rebuilding process.
"When you play as tough as a schedule as we have played and when you lose your number one quarterback in the first quarter of the first game of the season, and when you have started three quarterbacks in the first five games; most teams are going to struggle with those circumstances. Those are not excuses, because we knew the nature of the beast when we decided to embarked on this journey and rebuild Mississippi State's tradition. Any other conference and maybe the process would not have taken so long.
"Those are factors that are out of our control, but we have to keep our same aggressive attitude when it comes to recruiting guys. We are not doing anything different than we did in the past. When a guy commits to us, we do not assume that we got him, we recruit the committed guys just as hard if not harder than the guys that are not committed.
"When the guy commits all the other schools know who they have to go after. I know they want to see us win, but once they commit to us, they become part of the Bulldog family. They know that we are all in this thing together. Our commits have been real supportive, they have been as supportive as anybody threw this whole process."
The losing has been somewhat of a habit for the Bulldogs lately, but as Coach Croom and his coaching staff try to right the ship, they have made one clear to the guys that they recruit.
"Guys know that when they come to Mississippi State they are going to play the top teams in the country week-in, week-out," Beamer continued. "They know they are going to play on TV just about every week. They understand that we are a young football team; when you look at the number of freshmen and redshirt freshmen that we are playing, we are a young football team and the future is bright.
"By no means does that mean that we are not trying to take advantage of things this season and have a winning season, but the future is bright, and the guys that we are recruiting understand that the future is bright here with them in it and that the foundation is in place. They have an opportunity to come in and help us right away; we have showed that we will play young guys.
"For true freshmen like Anthony Dixon, Arnil Stallworth, and Kyle Love the first five games of their college career they have played on national TV against South Carolina, Auburn, and LSU and have played another top five team in the country with West Virginia. You can not beat getting freshmen that type of experience as a freshmen and preparing for stuff later on in his career."
The Bulldogs have had their share of success recruiting out of state, but now will turn to the abundance of in state to rebuild the Bulldog tradition.
"We obviously want to recruit the state of Mississippi first and hard," Coach Croom explained. "We feel great about where we are right now as far as in-state recruiting. The surrounding area and states are what we focus on next; Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Georgia are the states we want to hit next.
"After that if a kid is interested in us and we feel like he can help us and if there is a tie or connection, distance is not a factor. From a priority standpoint, we want to hit our state hard, attack the surrounding states next and build off of that."
"We really try to do a great job of finding the players in Mississippi. We want to get our top players with the talent and the grades. The next thing we try to do is find the guys in our state that have talent that is quite often overlooked. Think about the great players in Mississippi that are overlooked. Brett Favre, Steve McNair, Walter Payton, and Jerry Rice were not blue chip prospects.
"The greatest players in the NFL history were overlooked prospects in the state of Mississippi. Why were those players not here or at Ole Miss? The history of this state has been that the two major schools in this state have overlooked the best talent in Mississippi. We are trying to make sure that we do not do that and that is our approach.
"We do not go out looking for the blue chip prospects or the top names on the list, because the best players that have ever come from this state were not considered blue-chip prospects. We are trying to make sure we do not let those guys get away. Once we have done that, we go outside the state and find other guys that are being overlooked.
"Many of the players that I played with at Alabama were not blue chip prospects and we got championship rings. That is our approach and we will continue to do that. We are not going to break the rules, and we are not looking for a quick fix. I will not compromise what I believe in even if dictates that I might have to go elsewhere, but until that time comes I am going to do it the right way."
The recent struggles of the Bulldogs have called for the firing of Coach Croom and staff, but recently President Foglesong came out supported Coach Croom and efforts to rebuild to Bulldog tradition.
"I do not enjoy it - the losing - because when you put your whole self into something nobody wants to see it succeed more than I do," Croom stated. "I made that commitment and I want to build this program, not for me but for the players and the Mississippi State fans. I love this school and I love this State.
"I know how much the success of this program would mean to this school, to our players, and to the state of Mississippi. I don't have any selfish motivation in doing any of this. Many people want to allude to how much I am being paid and that is not a big deal to me. What is important to me is the overall success of this program, winning, and getting the program to where I think it can be and doing it in a way that we can all be proud of.
"There is still a mentality in this state that you cannot have a winning program in this state unless you do illegal things. I know that, but I do not believe that. I refuse to believe that even though that is the mentality beneath the surface. That is one of the messages that I try to get across to prospects. We have tried that way for so many years and it has not gotten us anywhere.
"We have been trying for so long to do it the other way, why not try it the other way. We know the other way does not work. I hope the fans can be patient, because I am not asking for forty or fifty years. I would like a couple of more years to see if we can do this, and if I have not gotten it done then the administration has every right to do what is right for Mississippi State and the program. I never promised it would be done in three years.
"To be honest, I do not know a lot of places that have made a complete turnaround in three years, especially with a program that was on probation. Many people forget that we are still on probation and we had players leave. We had players that were recruited to come here when we got here that never made it here for whatever reason, but that is the situation that we are in.
"That is the situation that we are in and I understood that situation when I came here. I took on the task of trying to correct those situations, but people want to ignore those things and if they choose to ignore that then that is their choice. I understand the realities of where we are and I am going to keep battling as long as the opportunity affords me. I am going to continue to do it in the way that I believe in as long as I am given the opportunity."