Why not recruit the Magnolia State?


Just call Mississippi “no man’s land” for Florida. The Gators haven’t signed anyone out of the state since the Ron Zook era — and those guys played at community colleges.

What’s so wrong with my home state? Is the talent not there? Well, that can’t be it because a chunk of Mississippi-born folks are playing in the NFL and that’s been the case for a while. Is Florida’s staff concerned about travel expenses? Heck no! These guys fly out to California, Texas and around the northeast. Maybe, it’s the dialect. I don’t have twang in my voice — my mother made sure of that — but I can understand Florida staff members being a little uncomfortable with some of those “southern drawls.” It can get pretty thick where I come from.

Don’t ask Urban Meyer why he’s not doing a whole lot of recruiting in the Magnolia State. He doesn’t know either.

“We don’t (recruiting in Mississippi),” he said. “I’m not quite sure why.”

Meyer was probably just being polite, since I’m sure he’s aware I call Mississippi my home (sarcasm). But there’s got to be a reason Mississippi doesn’t scream, “Recruit me out-of-state schools that don’t border me!”

Meyer’s staff has figuratively dipped its toes in the state, but not literally. Here is a quick look at some prospects from Mississippi Florida has offered scholarships since Meyer arrived:

Jimmy Johns — QB — Brookhaven — Alabama
Josh McNeil — OL — Collins — Tennessee (No. 1 tackle in the country)

Allen Walker — S — Olive Branch — Mississippi (Top player in the state and recruited by Billy Gonzales, came down to UF and Ole Miss)

Chris Strong — DE — Batesville, South Panola — Ole Miss (Third-best defensive end nationally)
Derek Sherrod — OL — Columbus, Caledonia — Mississippi State (Third-best tackle nationally, recruited by Steve Addazio and John Hevesy)

DeAndre Brown — WR — Ocean Springs — Southern Miss (Recruited by Gonzales and he mentioned UF as a favorite for a while)

Chad Bumphis — WR — Tupelo — Mississippi State (UF was a suspected leader for a while)



So, the numbers are pretty low. The talent is decent, but still not enough to entice Florida, I guess. Meyer did hint that because of the high number of kids who stay close to home, he’s tentative about putting much effort there.

“I always do a breakdown of how many kids leave the state,” he said. “For whatever reason, we haven’t spent much time there.”

Well, coach, I’ve done my own breakdown. I mean I got out, why can’t they? You know what my findings told me, sir? … You are pretty much right. Not a lot of kids leave the state. An average of 17 out of the top 25 kids each year from Mississippi attend college there. That’s close to 70 percent. Obviously, more kids play in-state across the country, but for 70 percent of your best players not to leave for traditionally better programs around the country? Something’s up.

So then I looked harder and it hit me. I hate to say it, but grades could be an issue. A handful of Mississippi kids have had to go the junior college or prep school route over the years. It’s perfectly understandable that Meyer wouldn’t want to deal with iffy grade issues. Especially, with kids that far away who could easily be influenced to return to the state with a couple years to think about it.

In the end, I can only point to two things that would deter Florida’s coaches: grades and talent. Oh, if anyone from home reads this, I’m done for. In all seriousness, the state just doesn’t produce the type of players Florida wants. I don’t have these guys’ grades, so who knows what’s really happening on that end, but like I said, take chances with guys who will be closer to you if they have to attend a prep school. Speed and athleticism just aren’t there. If it was, Meyer and his staff would be traveling there, and they’re only doing that for ball games these days. That staff is obsessed with speed and it will look everywhere for it. Even Canada! They signed Stephen Alli! From Canada!

“I have not contacted very many guys out of Mississippi,” Gonzales said.

“We have our recruiting areas in a base that we want to be. Obviously, if there’s a great one in that area we’ll go in there and see if we can battle for them. Other than that, we haven’t been in that area.”


  1. You guys keep it that way, stay the hell out of MS, in the very near future MS State will be mentioned in the same breath as the upper echelon programs in the SEC. Mullen will create a Jackie Sherill type product on the field with quality college, student/athletes. We all know that per capita, the state of MS has more players in the NFL than any other state, that tells me the athletes are here and by your numbers alone, we like to stay close to home to get some of mama’s cooking. MSU 27 – FL 23.

    Charles Penner, Madison, MS

  2. Obviously, you missed the playful tone of this blog entry. It’s no wonder why Ed had to leave
    Mississippi, he is too literate for them. A freak of phonic nature who actually knows how to
    form paragraphs instead of four one line sentences that all start with “It’s about…”

    Aschoff is already the best writer at Gatorsports.com, and in due time we’ll be reading him on

    (But the boasting about beating sportswriters at Wii tennis? That’s a bit dorky. Try beating
    Jacquez Green at Madden before bragging, man.)

  3. Mississippi for it’s size is as rich a recruiting area as any in the country. I don’t think talent is the issue but much like Alabama and Louisiana I believe Ole Miss and MSU have put a fence around their state.

    I do think grades can be an issue but then again they are an issue in South Florida too and that doesn’t stop the Gators from recruiting there. In the end recruiting is a bottom line business and if Florida has found it difficult to recruit in Mississippi they will move on to states where they have had success like Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, New Jersey, etc.