By MATTHEW STEVENS
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen is using the opposite attitude for being dumped by six decommitments over this past month.
Instead of the it’s not you, it’s me approach, in the mind of MSU’s third-year coach, it is them, not him. “You never know how 17-year-old minds are always thinking to make decisions,” Mullen said Saturday when he met with the media during halftime of the Bulldogs men’s basketball game.
In less 12 hours, the Mississippi State football program will begin to find out which prospects will be wearing maroon and white next fall.
With six decommitments for the MSU program before today, the simple fact of the matter is all Mullen and the Mississippi State football coaching staff can do is wait and hope.
This dead period of having no control over his program except sit next to a fax machine and wait for a National Letter-of-Intent is the part Mullen hates the most.
“This is the craziest time of the year as a coach,” Mullen said Saturday. ” I love being around the team and the things that we can control, which is our hard work and our effort. That’s really important to us. You know, there’s no shortcut to the top of the mountain.”
The newest defection after pledging his services to MSU is reportedly four-star cornerback Jermaine Whitehead from Greenwood after he told The Birmingham News Monday his recruitment was “very open” and visited defending national champion Auburn this past weekend.
Whitehead joins Mississippi products Nickolas Brassell (four-star wide receiver from South Panola High), C.J. Johnson (four-star linebacker from Philadelphia, Miss.), Joe Price (three-star running back from Madison Central) and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College defensive end Lloyd Allen along with Georgia prospect Barron Dixon as decommitments from the State program.
“You’re always going to lose a few and gain a few in recruiting as it goes,” Mullen said. “We’ll see what happens (today). But guys that we have coming in, they know what our program is all about, they know nothing is going to be given to them and they have to earn everything out there on the field. Those are the type of guys that succeed in the world. Those are the kind of guys that we like and I think we’re getting a good class with that type of player.”
State currently has 23 verbal commitments highlighted by a pair of in-state four-star recruits in safety Darion Arrington and wide receiver Joe Morrow.
The 2011 recruiting class will also have some local flavor with West Point cornerback Justin Cox becoming the third Green Wave player to wear the maroon and white in the last two years.
Cox, who also played quarterback for the back-to-back Class 5A state championship squad, threw for 1,030 yards and nine touchdowns while also rushing for 1,416 yards and 16 scores but is expected to transition to defense at the next level.
“I feel like cornerback is a good position for me and I enjoyed playing it before,” Cox said when he verbally committed last July. “I just want to make plays and so it’ll help I'm not totally new to that position.”
This recruiting class will also feature four early enrollees (defensive end Johnathan Harris, quarterback Dak Prescott and offensive lineman Nick Redmond and junior college offensive lineman Joey Trapp) that can participate in spring workouts this April.
“It’s great to have them here for the offseason program and spring practices, and it will help their development and their chances to contribute this fall,” Mullen said on Jan. 5.
In terms of provisional class rankings, Mullen’s 2011 class currently stands as his worst ranked since arriving in Starkville at 39th in the country according to Scout.com, but 11th in the Southeastern Conference only above Vanderbilt. Rivals.com has State’s 2011 class ranked 38th in the country and 10th in the league ahead of just Kentucky and Vanderbilt.
"You see everything about our program," Mullen said. "We're going to do things the right way and win through hard work. There are no shortcuts to the top and that's how we're going to do things. I worry about our program. I don't worry about other things."