July 3, 2013 4:48:02 PM
Matthew Stevens - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- Elijah Staley intends to play football and basketball at Mississippi State University.
That's why Staley withdrew a verbal commitment he made to Vanderbilt University nearly a month ago and has given a pledge to MSU and football coach Dan Mullen.
Staley, who attends Wheeler High School in Marietta, Ga., announced his decision to the public via the new social media app Vine.
Highly regarded for his skills as a dual-threat quarterback, the left-handed Staley intends to play football and basketball at MSU when he arrives on campus next summer. Last season, Staley passed for 1,804 yards and 16 touchdowns. On the hardwood, Staley, a small forward, averaged 18 points and 9.5 rebounds. He is rated the No. 98 prospect in the nation by Rivals.com.
"The biggest thing was I could play both sports there at a high level in the SEC," the 6-foot-7, 213-pound Staley told Rivals.com. "I love the coaching staffs in both football and basketball. Coach (Dan) Mullen has a history of great quarterbacks."
According to multiple reports, MSU men's basketball coach Rick Ray offered Staley a scholarship more than a year ago and had been recruiting the wing forward since he was an assistant coach at Clemson University.
"They said I'd definitely have a possibility of playing early because they only have two quarterbacks," Staley told The Jackson Clarion-Ledger said. "They said they'd work with me on the basketball thing. I'd have a chance to come in and compete for the starting job early."
If Staley plays both sports at MSU, he wouldn't be available to start practicing with the basketball team until the end of the first semester, which coincides with the beginning of Southeastern Conference play in January.
MSU's depth at quarterback opened up greatly after Cord Sandberg decided to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies after he was selected last month in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft. The Phillies picked Sandberg, a four-star quarterback from Manatee High in Florida, in the third round. Sandberg signed and received a $725,000 bonus.
"If he goes really high, if he goes in the first round of the baseball draft, hey, I'm happy for him, proud for him," Mullen said on National Signing Day. "If he doesn't go in the first round, well, that's a great situation, too, (because) he gets to come play quarterback in the Southeastern Conference. I don't think there's a bad ending to it either way."
Georgia offensive guards teammates choose MSU
While MSU was competing in the NCAA baseball tournament, Jordan Harris was seen as an after thought by most MSU fans who follow recruiting.
But on June 21 Harris surprised many by verbally committing to MSU without visiting the campus.
According to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, the 305-pound offensive lineman from Stephenson High in Georgia opted for MSU over Florida State University because of the competition in the SEC.
"Mississippi State is turning out to be one of the best schools in the SEC coming up," Harris told the Clarion-Ledger. "I think it will be a great place for me and my family. Florida State is in a good conference, but it doesn't compare to the SEC."
Harris' high school teammate Tyler Jones, joined him committed three days later to give MSU two three-star offensive guard prospects for its 2014 recruiting class. Harris and Jones are the only high school offensive linemen in the class. Junior college prospects Jocquell Johnson, of Copiah-Lincoln Community College via Jackson Callaway High School, and Norman Price, of Hinds C.C., also are in the class. 247Sports.com has the Bulldogs' class ranked 31st nationally, and 11th of 14 schools in the SEC.