People argue about the importance of a player’s star ranking when it comes to recruiting all the time. Some say that you have to get all the 4 and 5 star rated players that you can, while others will say that being able to coach the players up is by far more important. Debate it all you want, but how Dan Mullen and the rest of the coaching staff decides to offer a player is all that really matters. Next year will be year six in the Mullen era, and there will not be a single player left over from the Croom years left on the roster. If you examine the roster, you will see some characteristics that appear in most of his players.
One thing that Mullen has done exceptionally well in his time as the head coach of the Bulldogs is to realize that he is responsible for more than what happens on the football field. He also is responsible for selling the program. Because of that, he has to recruit players that fans will want to cheer for. Many may say as log as they wear maroon and white, they don’t have any problem supporting them. That may not always be true. The best way to demonstrate what I am talking about is to look at the starting quarterbacks for Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
Why Bo Wallace Never Would Have Worked
You may not remember this, but when Bo Wallace was getting ready to transfer from Junior College as part of the 2012 class, he was being recruited by Mississippi State. Heading into the 2012 season, Tyler Russell was firmly entrenched as the starter. The other quarterbacks were Dak Prescott who was coming off of his redshirt year and Dylan Favre, the fiery quarterback entering his sophomore season. At the end of the 2011 Fall semester, Favre decided to transfer leaving the Bulldogs with only two quarterbacks on its roster. Mullen then started trying to recruit Wallace for his third quarterback.
At one time, Mississippi State was supposedly one of the leaders for landing Wallace. I always thought it was odd that Wallace was even considering State. He was a year behind Russell, so unless he was just absolutely superb, I didn’t see any way that he would have had more than one year as a starter. I also was afraid that it might make Dak Prescott, a quarterback perfectly suited to run Dan Mullen’s offense, might decide to leave. Freeze and Ole Miss came in late to the picture and offered Wallace, and despite some rumors that Wallace and Freeze didn’t see eye-to-eye when they were both at Arkansas State, Wallace accepted.
In the end, I thought it was best for everyone that Wallace didn’t end up in Starkville. Is there anyone that thinks Bo Wallace would have been enthusiastically embraced by Mississippi State fans? Despite the Ole Miss fans’ best attempts to portray us this way, Mississippi State is not a fan base of people without teeth that don’t wear shoes. We are a much more blue collared fan base that often has a chip on our shoulder. When Whit Waide wrote about “Grinding for Our State”, he captured perfectly what the Mississippi State fan base believes and sees itself as. Bo Wallace does not embody any of those things. With his long blonde hair and country club appearance, Wallace has garnered two nicknames, Dr. Bo and Sunshine. In one of the strangest ways to get a nickname, Bo Wallace got his Dr. Bo nickname from Spencer Hall of Every Day Should Be Saturday fame. His other nickname of Sunshine comes from the movie Remember the Titans. It’s a reference to the character and quarterback Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass who had a very similar appearance to that of Wallace.
Ole Miss fans are divided about how they feel about Wallace, but most of that has to do with his play on the field, not much else. Wallace represents the white collar, country club atmosphere that is pervasive at all Ole Miss football games. Wallace has had a much more difficult time fitting in with the male portion of the student body, but not the female portion. They swoon over their quarterback. He has had a difficult time finding his niche in Ole Miss, but it would have been even harder to find it at Mississippi State.
Why Prescott Has Been Perfect For Mississippi State
Dak Prescott on the other hand embodies what the Mississippi State fan base is all about. Prescott was considered a solid quarterback prospect, but not one that schools were tripping over themselves to land. Offense that ran the spread option like ours saw a lot of value in him. He had skills, but he played hard and left everything out on the field.
Fast Forward to this past season. Dak Prescott played the entire year like he was out to prove something. He never once backed down from a challenge. Prescott, even when he sometimes shouldn’t have, never gave up on a play. These are the reasons that Mississippi State fans love Prescott. Some think the fan base has lost its mind because there are so many of us pushing the Dak for Heisman, but it’s much easier to do because we found a quarterback who embodies all that we are as a fan base. It makes a big difference. Prescott is an emotional leader, one that the team rallies around and the fans respond to it equally as well.
What You Will Find in Every Mississippi State Recruit
When you look up and down the roster, you’re going to see a lot of the characteristics in each player that Dak has. He’s going to be a hard worker. He will play with something to prove. One thing that is a major misconception is that Dan Mullen doesn’t care about how highly a player is rated. That’s not true. He cares about how he rates each player. Mullen wants the most talented players he can find that will fit into what he is trying to accomplish or if he won’t be someone that the fans will be able to rally around. It makes a big difference in how a player will play if he the fans can rally around them. Mullen continues to demonstrate his penchant for finding those players.