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Mullen, MSU staff continue to search small schools

February 2, 2012

Caledonia's Cole Carter participates in a drill during Big Dawg Camp. (Photo by Michael Wardlaw, SDN)

Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen and his staff have struck again.

In an attempt to seek out the best football players in Mississippi, the Bulldogs have continued the tradition of hitting some of the smaller schools in the state.

One of the biggest pickups since Mullen became the coach of MSU was to get Johnthan Banks out of East Webster High School in Cumberland, a destination that even Mullen admits he had trouble locating.

As far as the 2012 class that was announced on Wednesday, Mullen believes he has gotten more players who fit that mold in Cole Carter of Caledonia High School, Gus Walley of Greene County High School in Richton, and Xavier Grindle of East Marion High School in Columbia.

Mullen said his staff does a good job of doing a complete and thorough search for prospects.

"I trust our coaching staff and they do a great job of getting to every high school in Mississippi," Mullen said. "We have a great relationship with the coaches here and a great working relationship. We trust what they tell us and we know what we're looking for as far as character and athlete. You don't have to play at the big schools to play for us. We'll look at every single school in the state and evaluate."

Mullen said it doesn't matter to him if a high school player plays in front of big crowds on Friday nights or on television.

Sometimes the bigger prizes come from small towns like the Maben area or Caledonia.

Former Caledonia High School player Derek Sherrod was already at MSU when Mullen became head coach, but developed into a first round draft pick by the Green Bay Packers under Mullen's watch.

Now Mullen hopes to have another banner catch from Caledonia in Carter.

"Cole has big shoes to live up to because of the last guy from Caledonia to come over here and had a pretty successful career," Mullen said. "Cole is a guy who played a lot of tight end, plays basketball and moves around a lot in high school. You can see in his physique that as he grows and fills out his body that he can play on the offensive line as a very athletic guy for us. He is a tremendous student and comes from a great family."

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