By MATTHEW STEVENS
The Mississippi State coaching staff was not going to let tailback Xavier Grindle leave the 2011 Big Dawg Camp without hearing him commit to their program.
The rising senior tailback from East Marion confirmed his commitment to the Bulldogs football program before he exited Davis Wade Stadium.
“My decision was basically family-based because my mom really likes Mississippi State and Coach Mullen is somebody I can believe in,” Grindle said.
Grindle, who is a three-star prospect according to Rivals.com, Scout.com and ESPN, rushed for 1,485 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior. The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder has topped 1,000 yards in each of his three seasons at East Marion and has compiled 4,368 career yards.
“I love to get out in open space and need to improve running in between the tackles,” Grindle said. “I can catch the ball out of the backfield. Here’s the greatest thing. What State does on offense, we already do in high school.”
Grindle said he was timed at 4.41 seconds in the 40-yard dash with a pulled hamstring today in the Palmeiro Center.
NCAA regulations prohibit college coaches from commenting on recruits until they sign a National Letter-of-Intent with the institution.
Grindle has offers also from Ole Miss and Southern Mississippi but became one of three commitments coming out of the weekend camp, joining Greene County wide receiver Gus Walley and Port Gibson athlete Adairius Barnes, bringing MSU's total to 12.
Rivals.com has Grindle, who was at a camp sponsored by the University of Arkansas last weekend, rated the 14th-best prospect in the state of Mississippi.
Grindle said he was scheduled to attend the prospects camp at Ole Miss, but after talking with Mullen and the MSU coaching staff the three-star tailback decided to pass on heading to Oxford. Grindle said he had other offers from LSU, Memphis and Vanderbilt.
“(Coach Mullen looked me straight in the eye and said he wanted me to help move this program forward,” Grindle said. “If he’s telling me that, then I believe in him and what he’s saying.”
Grindle will not be able to sign with MSU until this coming February.
Walley feels wanted
by Mullen, Bulldogs
Walley was told to call Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen the morning after the 2011 Big Dawg Camp to discuss his future.
The two-star Greene County tight end prospect called him multiple times to hear the words he wished would come for the Bulldogs third-year leader.
“I must have called him five times before he answered because I guess he had a women’s camp to instruct today,” Walley said. “He told me I did everything they wanted and said he had a full scholarship for me. I told him – you got it.”
Before this Saturday morning phone conversation, Mississippi State had a plan for the receiver to turn him into a tight end they could work with the minute he showed up on campus. Walley was given a simple set of instructions.
“They told me to gain 10 pounds and have it be muscle so I wouldn’t lose any of my speed,” Walley said. “So that’s why I showed up this weekend at 224 pounds and still ran 4.5 (seconds in the) 40 (yard dash).”
Walley, who plays wide receiver at Greene County, didn’t mind the position change as long as it meant he could sign with the school he grew up rooting for as a child.
“I don’t care,” Walley said. "It didn’t bother me one bit. I wanted to be at Mississippi State. I’d try kicking if they wanted me to.”
Walley had offers from Louisiana-Lafayette, UAB and Southern Mississippi but was waiting on the Bulldogs to make their decision. As a junior last year at Greene County High School, Walley had 50 catches for 912 yards and 12 touchdowns.
“Recruiting is a pain,” Walley said. “It seems like if I wasn’t getting phone calls, I was getting mail from everybody. I just wanted Mullen saying he wanted me on scholarship.”
Brown finally gets
to pledge to MSU
Barnes would’ve verbally committed to Mississippi State if given the opportunity Friday night.
Instead the Bulldogs coaching staff made him sleep on it for one night before accepting into the 2012 recruiting class.
Barnes gave his pledge after meeting with Mullen Saturday morning hours after he attended the 2011 Big Dawg Camp Friday night.
“(Mullen) told me he saw everything he needed to see and that we’d meet to discuss my commitment,” Barnes said Friday night. “I wanted to commit right there on the field but (Mullen) wanted to wait a day.”
Despite suffering a hamstring injury before the camp opened, Barnes still participated in 1-on-1 drills as a receiver despite sitting out most of the workouts. In a previous MSU camp, the track athlete that won the 2011 Class 4A state championship in the triple jump and took second in the long jump, ran a 4.21 40-yard dash time.
Barnes, who also held offers from East Carolina, Louisiana Tech and Memphis, rushed for 214 yards and five touchdowns as a junior last season and caught 27 passes for 647 yards and three scores.
At 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, Barnes said he’s been told by the MSU coaching staff he could be used as a slot receiver or in the special teams return game early in his MSU career. Scout.com has Barnes listed as a two-star athlete.
“I wanted to commit to Mississippi State because I love and trust their coaching staff and just look at this stadium,” Barnes said. “I just could see myself easily playing here.”