The Epic Recruiting Meltdown of 2011 May Not Have Been as Bad as Once Thought

Flashback to February of 2011.  MSU is coming off a 9-4, top 15 season culminating in epic Gator Bowl beatdown of  Michigan and is ranked in the top 20 in recruiting, with a couple of key prospects left of the board (PJ Jones and Tobias Singleton).  In the meantime, assistant coaches and ace recruiters Manny Diaz and Mark Hudspeth have left for greener pastures.  Sometime during this dead period for recruiting,  MSU recruits Joe Price, CJ Johnson, Jermaine Whitehead, and Nick Brassell experience unrest and ultimately decommit from MSU.  Tobias Singleton, long thought to be an MSU lean, performs a hat fake ceremony at the all-star game and ultimately commits to Ole Miss.  But the truly epic meltdown comes with CJ Johnson’s decommitment from MSU after being the prized jewel of the class.  Ole Miss, coming off a 4-8 season which culminated in an Egg Bowl beat down in Oxford, finishes very strong in recruiting and seizes that momentum from MSU.  They finish with a scout top 20 class.  MSU limps to the end, narrowly holding onto prized recruits Dee Arrington and Joe Morrow, for a finish at Scout number 45, and leaving many MSU fans greatly questioning the recruiting ability of Dan Mullen and staff.

Three full years of hindsight later, it’s easy to see that things are not always as they seem.  And the 2011 class is the shining example of that. While we lost the press conference on signing day in the most epic fashion imaginable under Mullen that year, we’ve continued to win the war on the field.  We essentially gave CJ’s spot to Zack Jackson.  While it wasn’t an “even” trade, it still appears to have worked out ok for us.  Nick Brassell’s spot went to Taveze Calhoun, and I would say we won big on that one.  Other questionable “takes” that had no other real options in that class, Kendrick Market, Preston Smith, Justin Malone, Benardrick McKinney, Darius Slay, and Justin Cox have all proven to be key contributors for us that were vastly underrated coming out of high school.

Ole Miss c/o 2011

Pos Nat’l
School, Hometown
Video HT/ WT/ 40 Commit Date Signed LOI? Commit School
CB NR NR Denzel Nkemdiche
(Grayson HS)
Loganville, GA
5-11/194 05/20/2011 Mississippi
WR 7 Nick Brassell
(South Panola HS)
Batesville, MS
6-1/176/4.40 02/02/2011 Mississippi
MLB 4 C.J. Johnson
(Philadelphia HS)
Philadelphia, MS
6-2/235 01/25/2011 Mississippi
DT JC Uriah Grant
Fullerton, CA
6-1/285/5.00 01/23/2011 Mississippi
WR 22 Tobias Singleton
(Madison Central HS)
Madison, MS
6-0/185/4.38 01/08/2011 Mississippi
WR JC Philander Moore
(Blinn College)
Brenham, TX
5-10/180/4.40 01/07/2011 Mississippi
S JC Aaron Garbutt
Fullerton, CA
6-2/210/4.50 12/24/2010 Mississippi
OLB 47 Keith Lewis
(Freedom HS)
Tampa, FL
6-2/215/4.55 12/22/2010 Mississippi
DT JC Gilbert Pena
(ASA – The College for Excellence)
Brooklyn, NY
6-4/315 12/15/2010 Mississippi
QB JC Zack Stoudt
(Iowa Western)
Council Bluffs, IA
6-5/234/4.80 12/13/2010 Mississippi
S JC Ivan Nicholas
(ASA – The College for Excellence)
Brooklyn, NY
5-11/205/4.50 12/05/2010 Mississippi
CB JC Wesley Pendleton
Wesson, MS
5-11/175/4.40 12/05/2010 Mississippi
OG 92 Justin Bell
(Callaway Sr HS)
Jackson, MS
6-3/325 08/27/2010 Mississippi
TE JC Jamal Mosley
(Northwest Mississippi)
Senatobia, MS
6-4/255 08/24/2010 Mississippi
OG 26 Aaron Morris
(Callaway Sr HS)
Jackson, MS
6-5/316/5.40 08/24/2010 Mississippi
DE 42 Kameron Wood
(John Carroll HS)
Birmingham, AL
6-4/225 08/13/2010 Mississippi
WR 54 Collins Moore
(Bob Jones HS)
Madison, AL
6-2/185/4.50 08/08/2010 Mississippi
OLB 66 Marcus Mayers
(Taylorsville HS)
Taylorsville, MS
6-2/227 07/23/2010 Mississippi
WR 104 T.J. Worthy
(Gadsden City HS)
Gadsden, AL
6-2/180 07/21/2010 Mississippi
DT 99 Woodrow Hamilton
(Raleigh HS)
Raleigh, MS
6-3/272 07/21/2010 Mississippi
CB 25 Senquez Golson
(Pascagoula HS)
Pascagoula, MS
5-10/180/4.40 07/21/2010 Mississippi
QB 45 Maikhail Miller
(Itawamba Agricultural HS)
Fulton, MS
6-2.5/240 07/19/2010 Mississippi
WR 24 Donte Moncrief
(Raleigh HS)
Raleigh, MS
6-3/212/4.45 07/09/2010 Mississippi
OLB 83 Serderius Bryant
(Seminole HS)
Sanford, FL
5-9/205/4.56 07/04/2010 Mississippi
OG 32 Ethan Hutson
(Destrehan HS)
Destrehan, LA
6-4.5/290 06/25/2010 Mississippi
RB 62 Chief Brown
(Winona Secondary School)
Winona, MS
6-1/191 06/12/2010 Mississippi
S 78 Cody Prewitt
(Sylva Bay Academy Inc)
Bay Springs, MS
6-3/205 06/08/2010 Mississippi
OT 58 Mitch Hall
(Russellville HS)
Russellville, AR
6-6/320 05/18/2010 Mississippi

Mississippi State c/o 2011

Pos Nat’l
School, Hometown
Video HT/ WT/ 40 Commit Date Signed LOI? Commit School
S NR Taveze Calhoun
(Morton HS)
Morton, MS
6-1/180 01/30/2011 Mississippi State
RB PG Derek Milton
(Hargrave Military Academy)
Chatham, VA
5-11/205 01/24/2011 Mississippi State
DT 43 P.J. Jones
(Tupelo HS)
Tupelo, MS
6-3.5/265 01/21/2011 Mississippi State
RB 152 Shaquille Perry
(Walnut Attendance Center)
Walnut, MS
6-2/210 01/19/2011 Mississippi State
OT JC Joey Trapp
(Los Angeles Harbor)
Wilmington, CA
6-5/285/4.89 12/12/2010 Mississippi State
DE 127 John Harris
(Boynton Beach Community HS)
Boynton Beach, FL
6-6/220 11/05/2010 Mississippi State
OT 147 Justin Malone
(Madison-Ridgeland Academy)
Madison, MS
6-6/306 11/03/2010 Mississippi State
S 148 Kendrick Market
(South Panola HS)
Batesville, MS
5-9/175 10/17/2010 Mississippi State
DE 171 Preston Smith
(Stephenson HS)
Stone Mountain, GA
6-5/215 09/29/2010 Mississippi State
OLB 149 Benardrick McKinney
(Rosa Fort HS)
Tunica, MS
6-4/200 09/16/2010 Mississippi State
CB JC Darius Slay
Fulton, MS
6-0/190 07/29/2010 Mississippi State
S 9 Dee Arrington
(Stone HS)
Wiggins, MS
6-2/200/4.62 07/24/2010 Mississippi State
CB 95 Justin Cox
(West Point HS)
West Point, MS
6-1/174/4.41 07/24/2010 Mississippi State
QB 70 Dak Prescott
(Haughton HS)
Haughton, LA
6-3/225/4.70 07/23/2010 Mississippi State
RB 79 Josh Robinson
(Franklinton HS)
Franklinton, LA
5-9/205/4.50 07/23/2010 Mississippi State
WR 30 Joe Morrow
(Ocean Springs HS)
Ocean Springs, MS
6-4/195/4.60 07/23/2010 Mississippi State
TE 44 Daniel Knox
(West Lauderdale Attendance Cen)
Collinsville, MS
6-5/251 07/23/2010 Mississippi State
OT 35 James Maiden
(Wilkinson County HS)
Woodville, MS
6-4/265 07/23/2010 Mississippi State
WR 188 Devin Fosselman
(Wilkinson County HS)
Woodville, MS
5-9/192 06/20/2010 Mississippi State
TE 69 Rufus Warren
(Gentry HS)
Indianola, MS
6-5/238 06/15/2010 Mississippi State
S 71 Zachary Jackson
(Heidelberg HS)
Heidelberg, MS
6-1/203/4.53 02/16/2010 Mississippi State
OT 47 Nick Redmond
(Harrison Central HS)
Gulfport, MS
6-5/292 09/26/2009 Mississippi State

Which class has had more on-field production?  It’s pretty close as of today, but will likely become skewed in favor of MSU in the future simply via retention rates and the amount of redshirting that was done.

The moral to the story?  Mississippi State’s staff has earned some trust in recruiting at this point.  If Mullen takes guys early even if they are 2 stars with no offers, we should generally be ok with it at this point.  He has proven time and time again to be very good at evaluating talent.  It’s best not to melt down in February unless it’s Cam Newton we are talking about.

This is not to say that we can not improve in recruiting.  We can, we must, and there is much room for that improvement to be made.  I’ve been very outspoken about our problems on this front in the past, and improvements must continue to be made for us to keep moving forward, but we should still appreciate what we’ve actually got, which is a good evaluation and developmental coaching staff.  If they figure out how to win head-to-head battles for prized recruits, we can take another step forward.


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