By DANNY P. SMITH
There are 60 players on the Mississippi State football roster from the state of Mississippi.
When Dan Mullen became the head coach at MSU a little less than two years ago, he expressed his desire to recruit and bring in the state's best talent.
Once those high school players chose to become Bulldogs, it was important for them to embrace everything about Mississippi State's tradition.
That includes striving to keep bragging rights over the Bulldogs biggest rival – the Ole Miss Rebels.
The 107th meeting between MSU and Ole Miss takes place Saturday in Oxford. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
For the Bulldogs from Tupelo to Jackson to Biloxi, they all place different levels of emphasis on the pending matchup.
"It's a big game for me, the rest of the team and all of Mississippi State," MSU senior offensive tackle Derek Sherrod said. "When we play the school up north, it's always going to be a close hard fought game and that's why we're going to prepare hard this week."
As a native of Columbus, there was a pretty good tug of war scenario between the Bulldogs and Rebels for Sherrod's services.
Even though Columbus is only a 30-minute drive from Starkville, there's a huge Ole Miss following in Lowndes County.
Sherrod remembers the recruiting process as being intense.
"There's a lot of talent in Mississippi when there are two SEC schools in the state, it's going to be a lot of pressure for them to fight out for all of those recruits," Sherrod said. "For me personally, I wanted give everybody an opportunity. I knew that in my heart that Mississippi State was the right school for me."
Sherrod didn't play much attention to the Rebels while growing up and said he attended a couple of games at MSU.
The Bulldogs coaches understand the responsibility of putting the players in the right positions to be successful. For the losing team, it has to listen to the other side boost for the next 364 days.
"The majority of our kids are from Mississippi and they've got to go back home," MSU offensive coordinator Les Koenning said.