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Posts Tagged ‘urban meyer’

Mullen’s First Recruiting Class and Staff Announcements

Posted by Kevin on February 5, 2009

As the day after National Signing Day dawns, college football junkies turn their attention to their school’s recruiting ranking. Not that these rankings actually mean anything, but it gives us something to talk about and dissect for a couple of weeks until college baseball starts back up and the regular season of college basketball winds down and our attentions turn toward March Madness.

I have no idea what Mississippi State’s historical recruiting rankings may be. My guess is we would have a trend of a national ranking of 50-70 and a conference ranking of 7-12 with an occasional big bump. What has got me excited about this year’s class is Dan Mullen and the enthusiasm and promise he brings to my beloved Bulldogs.

Sure, this is Mullen’s freshman season as the head man, but his resume speaks for itself. Everywhere he has been, he has been a winner. Having been a part of Urban Meyer‘s staff from the beginning when Meyer got his first head coaching job at Bowling Green, I feel that Mullen has been in a prime position to learn how to build a successful staff and program. They did it at Bowling Green, Utah, and Florida. Now Mullen has his shot at putting his experiences to the ultimate test in Starkville.

Mullen is a firm believer in building relationships with Mississippi high school coaches and the players that our state produces. He believes that Mississippi produces enough talent to win at the college level and has made great strides already in keeping these players close to home to “play for their state university”.

19 of the 27 players MSU signed yesterday are from Mississippi. Heck, Mullen’s staff has already been talking to the state’s top juniors about their college choice for next season. This year’s primary recruiting focus was to bring speed and a lot of receivers to the offense while filling holes elsewhere. Mullen already knows next year’s recruiting class will have more of a defensive focus and he’s made mention of forecasting his needs for two year’s down the road. Now, I’m sure many college coaches are smart enough to think long term like this, but this is something refreshing for Mississippi State fans. We are not used to having a coach with the smarts to think long term.

Perhaps the biggest gem from this class is Meridian quarterback Tyler Russell. Russell was Mr. Football this past season in Mississip, and lead Meridian to a dramatic 5A state championship that snapped South Panola’s 90-game winning streak.

Mullen’s staff also signed SEVEN… yes, seven, receivers. I don’t know if State has ever had that many receivers on the entire roster before now. Mullen says he would like to keep 10-12 receivers on the roster because they will rotate players so often to keep people fresh. Now, that’s not to say that all of these receivers will play receiver. A couple may end up at cornerback, and a couple of players signed as athletes may end up at receiver.

Mullen’s staff breaks down like this:
Dan Mullen – head coach & special teams coordinator
Less Koenning – offensive coordinator & quarterbacks coach
Mark Hudspeth – passing game coordinator & wide receivers coach
John Hevesy – running game coordinator & offensive line coach
Greg Knox – running backs coach
Scott Sallach – tight ends coach
Carl Torbush – defensive coordinator & linebackers coach
David Turner – defensive line coach
Melvin Smith – cornerbacks & nickel coach
Tony Hughes – safeties coach & recruiting coordinator
Reed Stringer – director of recruiting operations
Rockey Felker – director of player personnel & high school relations
Jody Wright – coordinator of football operations


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Dan “The Man” Mullen Hired As MSU Head Football Coach

Posted by Kevin on December 14, 2008

After a two-week coaching search process that should earn Greg Byrne an award from the CIA on keeping things private, Dan Mullen was introduced this week as Mississippi State’s 32nd head football coach.  Mullen’s name popped up on the rumor mill from time to time, but never really garnered as much steam as names like Chris Peterson from Boise State or Kevin Wilson from Oklahoma.  With the way Byrne conducted his search in a shroud of privacy, every name Bulldog fans threw out there was just speculation.  In the end, Byrne hired the man that he knew he wanted within minutes of talking to him.

Mullen, 36, has 15 years of collegiate coaching experience, all on offense.  His first major collegiate coaching job came in 1998 where he served as an offensive graduate assistant on Syracuse’s Big East conference championship and Orange Bowl team.  In 1999, Mullen moved to Notre Dame to work for Bob Davie on the Irish’s squad that played in the Fiesta Bowl.  While at Notre Dame, Mullen worked alongside another young coach named Urban Meyer.  In 2001 Mullen followed Meyer to Bowling Green where he served as quarterbacks coach.  In 2002, Bowling Green quarterback Josh Harris threw for 2,452 yard, rushed for 737 yards and finished the season as the nation’s 3rd leading scorer.

Meyer and Mullen moved to Utah in 2003 where Mullen served as quarterbacks coach.  While at Utah, Mullen developed quarterback Alex Smith into the eventual #1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft.  Under Mullen’s tutelege, Smith also earned the Sporting News Player of the Year award, was Utah’s first finalist for the Heisman Trophy, was a finalist for the Davey O’Brien and Walter Camp National Player of the Year awards, and lead the Utes to a 12-0 record and Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma.  The 2004 Utes finished the season with the 3rd highest scoring offense in the nation.

The Meyer/Mullen tandem moved to Florida in 2005 where Mullen has served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.  In 2005, Chad Jackson was a Biletnikoff award semifinalist for receivers while setting a Florida single-season record for receptions in a season.  In 2006, the Gators won the BCS Championship while setting more school, conference, and national offensive records.  In 2007, he coached Tim Tebow as the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy.  Tebow also won the Maxwell, Davey O’Brien, and 78th Sullivan awards.  The Gators offense was the only team in the country to rush and pass for at least one touchdown in every game.

So… everywhere Mullen has been they’ve won.  He has learned from one of the best collegiate defensive minds in Bob Davie, one of the best X’s and O’s coaches ever in Paul Pasqualoni, and an offensive genius in Meyer.

When Byrne started the coaching search, he listed the qualities he wanted in a coach.  He wanted someone young and aggressive, full of energy and a tireless work ethic, someone with a passion for recruiting and someone who was on their way up in the coaching world; not someone who had already peaked.  While he didn’t say it publicly, Byrne wanted someone to get Bulldog fans instantly excited although it will be another eight months before he coaches his first game for MSU.

I was born and raised an MSU Bulldog.  I bleed maroon.  I grew up watching my beloved Dogs win maybe 5 games a year in a good year with the occasional surprise bowl team.  I loved them during the infamous Tech-and-10 (1 win, 10 losses for the uninformed) and I loved them during Jackie Sherrill‘s best years where we had the 1998 eventual national champs Tennessee on the ropes in the SEC title game.  The only time I can recall just not caring what happened in Starkville on football Saturdays have been the last couple of years under Sylvester Croom.  I didn’t like the hire when they got him but I supported my team, but week after week he proved just how unprepared he was to be a head coach.  After the 3-2 Auburn debacle this season, I vowed to never attend another Mississippi State home game until Croom was gone.  Thankfully, Byrne took care of that.

Mullen has said all the right things in his fan meet-and-greets and press conferences.  He’s talked about the spread offense and how it will be tooled to fit the players he has to work with; not forcing the offense on a bunch of players who can’t run it (think Croom’s garbage west coast offense).  He’s talked about putting together a staff full of more young and energetic coaches who have a passion for recruiting and keeping Mississippi’s best athetes not only in state but in Starkville.  While I’m sure he will need to do some recruiting out of state, there is no doubt that there is superior talent in our high schools.  Talent enough to compete for conference championships.

I cannot wait for next fall when Mullen’s first squad takes the field.  Just the thought of an offense that will score some points is enough to get me back to God’s country.

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