We are now inside of one week until National Signing Day, and for those who don't care for all of the drama and wondering, things are almost over. But for those who do enjoy following along with MSU recruiting, things could get interesting for the Bulldogs in the final days. After hosting two weekends' worth of recruits the previous two weekends, the Bulldogs will welcome in one final group this weekend. The first two groups of official visitors were heavily made up of Bulldog commitments, but this weekend, there will be several uncommitted prospects coming to town. Before we get into more recruiting news, let's take a look at this weekend's official visit list:
- Marcus Griffin | Bellevue, WA | DT | 6'3", 300 lbs | 3*
- O.J. Smith | Bossier City, LA | DT | 6'2", 320 lbs | 3*
- J.T. Gray | Clarksdale, MS | S | 6'0", 190 lbs | 3*
- Elgton Jenkins | Clarksdale, MS | OL | 6'5", 275 lbs | NR
- Tee Shepard | Fresno, CA (Holmes CC) | CB | 6'1", 197 lbs | 4*
- Jordan Harris | Stone Mountain, GA | OL | 6'5", 292 lbs | 3*
- Ravian Pierce | Fort Lauderdale, FL | TE | 6'4", 215 lbs | 3*
This group is an interesting one, and quite an important one as each player could fill a big need for MSU should they choose to sign with State.
- Marcus Griffin was a Washington State commit for the majority of last year, but the Bellevue DT opened his recruitment back up in November. Since that time, he has visited California and Arizona, and his MSU visit will be the final one before he makes his decision on National Signing Day. The distance between Griffin's home and Starkville could hurt MSU's chances, but players have selected schools with such a distance before. Experts on 247's Crystal Ball see Marcus landing in California, but talk about Griffin all across the internet seems to indicate that he could go a number of ways when decision time comes next Wednesday.
- O.J. Smith, like Griffin, is a late addition to MSU's official visitors list, and the Bulldogs appear to be in serious contention for the Louisiana DT's signature. While Smith has been committed to Alabama since the middle of last year, things have reportedly changed since then, and he has opted to take a visit to Starkville. It remains unclear as to what changed, but no matter what it was, MSU coaches I'm sure are glad to have him visiting. Smith is a big nose tackle who could fill space on the front line of State's defense.
- J.T. Gray is one of the final uncommitted prospects in the State of Mississippi, and a member of the Clarion Ledger's "Targeted 22". He took a visit to Iowa State last weekend, and it appears that he is down to MSU and the Cyclones.
- Elgton Jenkins, a teammate of Gray's, has become a big target for MSU with the departure of Sean Rawlings and Bunchy Stallings picking Kentucky over the Bulldogs. State would like to sign another OL to go with early signee Jocquell Johnson and current commit Jordan Harris, and Jenkins seems to be a target for that spot. I have seen several recruiting writers, including Rivals' Robbie Faulk, say that MSU is not completely giving up on Stallings, but right now, it looks as though Jenkins is the new primary focus. State also targeted Birmingham's Jordan Sims, but Sims seems to be an Ole Miss lean after a visit there last weekend.
- Maybe the most surprising name on the visitor's list, Tee Shepard heads to Starkville from Raymond this weekend to check out the MSU program. Shepard's story is an interesting one -- he left Holmes to go back to California to play JUCO ball just recently, but Holmes' coaches apparently called him and told him that if he came back, he could receive the credits he needed by the end of the summer to play Division 1 football next fall. With that in mind, MSU is making a late push for Shepard's signature, and things look good on that front. If grades are worked out and Shepard can make it to Starkville this fall, he could be an immediate-impact kind of player.
- Jordan Harris is the lone committed player currently slated to visit this weekend. He looks solid with MSU, and I imagine that coaches will have him helping with recruiting this weekend.
- Ravian Pierce is a player whose status we've seen change during the course of the week as well. Pierce has been on the schedule to visit for awhile, but earlier in the week it was reported that his visit was off ($), and that he was expected to sign with Florida Atlantic. That changed a second time during the week, and Pierce is back on the list of people expected to visit. Frankly I'm really surprised that MSU is still pursuing Pierce given the commitment of Hutcherson and the abundance of TE talent that the Bulldogs have, but the coaching staff clearly sees something in him that they like, so they're taking a shot.
- In other visit news, MSU target Cory Thomas will take his official visit to Tennessee this weekend. Thomas, who has been committed to the Vols since November, is a player high up on MSU's defensive lineman board, and one they still hold hope for flipping. Thomas, at one time early on in the process, named MSU his leader, so there's at least the smallest of chances that he could still sign with MSU. Obviously it works against MSU's favor for Thomas to visit Tennessee in his final visit, but there is not much State can do about that. It will be interested to see if Thomas sticks to UT, or if he flips next Tuesday.
While those are the only players expected to visit officially this weekend, there is a good chance that several committed prospects that have already visited come back to help in the recruiting efforts. It seems like experts expect possibly one or two commitments from this group, if not more, but it's unclear at this time whom those may come from. In addition to that, we still do not know if Tee Shepard is the "mystery recruit" we've been hearing about over the past week or so, so there's the possibility that another name comes out of nowhere in the final few days.
While Bud Elliot poised to cristilmethod just yesterday that mystery recruits are used by many pay sites to dangle subscription carrots in front of prospective members, we did just last year see that situation play out with MSU as State signed Oklahoma State commit Fred Ross in the 11th hour. With that in mind, let us free ourselves from our inhibitions and hope that some other unknown prospect will come aboard here in the next few days.
Hang on tight to your hats, recruiting fans. These final few days could get interesting -- hopefully in a good way -- for Mississippi State.