Dan Mullen is having a nice month.
After calling plays for a final time as Florida’s offensive coordinator at the BCS title game, Mullen is heading up the SEC’s most surprising class of commitments at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are 17th nationally in Scout.com’s rankings, and they have a record six commitments from the state of Mississippi’s top 10 prospects according to Rivals.com.
Ole Miss, which routed MSU 45-0 to end Sylvester Croom’s reign in Starkville at five seasons, doesn’t have any.
“There is going to be some excitement when you’re talking about a guy who has helped win two of the last three national championships and coached a Heisman Trophy winner (Tim Tebow),” Rivals.com national editor Jamie Newberg said. “He also coached a first pick overall (former Utah quarterback Alex Smith) in the NFL draft. I think there is a lot of excitement at the possibilities in Starkville, but I also think people need to take into consideration that Coach Croom laid the groundwork for a very good recruiting class.
“They are taking that state by storm, and I’m a little surprised somewhat in that Mullen doesn’t have many ties in the state. I think I’m more surprised that you’re not seeing more success on the other side with Ole Miss.”
Yazoo City defensive end Fletcher Cox is Mississippi’s No. 2 prospect and Tupelo receiver Chad Bumphis is No. 3, and each has committed to MSU. The state’s top prospect, Macon receiver Patrick Patterson, committed to the Bulldogs before Croom was fired and is now considering Alabama and Ole Miss, but Newberg thinks he will wind up in Starkville.
“Sylvester Croom always recruited pretty well defensively but only OK on offense,” he said. “Why did he get fired? They didn’t get good quarterback play and couldn’t score any points. They get the opposite effect by hiring Dan Mullen, so I think he inherits a good club on the other side of the ball and now has to build up the offense. I think kids see that and know that.”
Mullen was hired Dec. 11 and pledged to blanket the state, pointing out Mississippi is unmatched when it comes to per capita production of NFL players.
“Our top priority is taking care of these high-school coaches and junior-college coaches in the state to where they know they have an open-door policy here for full access to our program,” Mullen said. “We will get in every high school in this state before we even worry about going anywhere else. We have to make sure those players know they have a home here and they have a place where they can represent their state university.”
Bumphis picked MSU last Sunday over scholarship offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Running back LaDarius Perkins of Greenville switched to MSU after first committing to Auburn.
Such decisions don’t occur every winter at State.
“Coach Mullen going to Mississippi State is huge, because I had basically eliminated them,” Bumphis told Rivals.com. “He was the main reason I was looking at Florida and was my recruiter, so we had a great relationship. I think he will do some good things there.”
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...