March 2, 2009
Danny P Smith -
Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen and his staff are making quite an impression on local athletes.
After signing players like Deontae Skinner from Noxubee County High School in Macon, Johnthan Banks from East Webster High in Maben, Johnathan McKenzie from Starkville Academy, and Dennis Thames from Louisville High, Mullen has gotten off to a quick start on identifying area prospects for next year''s class.
Mullen''s efforts helped the Bulldogs secure verbal commitments from West Lowndes High''s Brandon Hill and West Point''s Michael Carr this past weekend.
Hill, is a tight end, defensive end, and linebacker for coach Bobby Berry and the Panthers, visited MSU on Saturday and liked what he saw and heard.
"It was mainly the environment I found going there," Hill said. "They made me feel like I was at home and it was like a home environment. It seemed like the right thing to do and something I wanted to do."
Hill mainly visited with defensive line coach David Turner, but he also talked with Mullen.
The entire staff gave him a reason to consider the Bulldogs.
"I liked (Mullen''s) personality and I like the ideas they had," Hill said.
After his good experience in Starkville, Hill informed Berry and his family of his intentions Saturday.
Hill appreciates the willingness of his high school coaches to help him get to a point where he could commit to a Southeastern Conference school.
"They have helped me get ready for college," Hill said. "They''ve opened up the weight room so I can take advantage of that so I can get ready for the college level. They''ve helped me out a lot by talking and being mentors."
Now that Hill knows where he will be going to college well before his senior year of high school starts, he doesn''t have to worry about his future.
"I don''t have to worry about my last game being my last," Hill said. "It won''t be the last time I suit up."
As for Carr, he didn''t have a reason for committing early. He said he wanted to stay close to home and play football.
"It was just something I wanted to do," Carr said. "I liked the coaching staff."
Carr started the first four games at quarterback for coach Chris Chambless and the Green Wave last season, then missed the rest of the year with an ankle injury.
Chambless has also used Carr at wide receiver, defensive back, and on special teams, so he is anxious to get him back on the field as a senior.
"We''re counting on him and quite a few others," Chambless said. "He''s a good person, and that''s something we try to teach them all to be. We train them up to be athletes, but we also train them to have character and be a good person."
Carr accounted for 1,069 yards and eight touchdowns while touching the football only 44 times in 2006. He averaged 24.3 yards per touch.
On defense that season, Carr made 75 total tackles (45 solo, 30 assists), had one sack, broke up 12 passes, had six interception, and had one fumble recovery.