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October 25, 2001

It's feast or famine in the SEC

With SEC recruiting, it is eat or be eaten. When you’re winning games on the gridiron, commitments always seem to flow in like a king eating a hearty feast. But when you’re struggling, blood is in the water and other teams nip at your commitment list like sharks on a feeding frenzy. Just look at what is going on at Mississippi State for a perfect example of that theory.

When things are going great in Starkville, Miss., the Bulldogs can recruit with anybody in the nation and have done quite well over the past few seasons. But this year’s struggles on the field have opened up several of Miss State’s top commitments to other schools’ recruiting calls.

And now some of the top commitments are starting to listen.

"I never thought I would see what is going on at Mississippi State," said Clarksdale, Miss., standout Darren Williams, who committed to MSU back in mid-September.

"I don't know what to say is going on. They had such high expectations, and so did I. They're always winners there. And nobody wants to play on a loser."

Brandon, Miss., running back Jerious Norwood echoed Williams' comments.

"It's just so frustrating," Norwood said. "You want to go out there and do something, but you can't. It's just like watching an accident and you can't stop it."

And the wreck could get even worse if Williams and Norwood jump ship because they are the early crown jewels in Mississippi State’s top 10 national ranking by Rivals100.com. Both are five star players, and are the type of impact players that could quickly right the ship in Starkville.

“That is the one thing that does keep me positive about Mississippi State,” Williams said.

“I do think that this is just a one-year deal. This isn’t the real Mississippi State. I’m still going to take a few other visits, but somebody is going to have to prove to me that this is going to last more than a year there.”

Norwood said other schools have been telling him it will last longer.

“The other schools all say they’re going to fire the coaches there,” Norwood said. “I just ignore that stuff and try to think about the positive things. There are plenty of them there still, so I am still committed.”

So is Williams, but he will still take visits to Tennessee, Notre Dame, Florida and Ole Miss. Norwood said Florida and Ole Miss are the schools that he might want to visit.

When asked if there was something that could help the Bulldogs keep both of their pledges, both Williams and Norwood agreed that fan support would be key.

“There are quite a few bandwagon fans, at least that's what it's starting to look like,” Williams said.

“And if they don’t believe in them, then how does that look to me and to the other recruits? I’m going to be watching and hopefully the fans will stand behind them. They were one of the big reasons why I committed there in the first place.”

Norwood agreed.

“There are still a ton of positives about Mississippi State,” he said.

“There are about 1,000 reasons why I picked them in the first place. I still might take a visit or two just to be sure, but I get the feeling MSU will be back on top soon. I can just feel it.”

And then it’ll be the Bulldogs turn to kings again.



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