July 31, 2013 12:24:07 AM
Matthew Stevens - firstname.lastname@example.org
STARKVILLE -- The 2014 recruiting class Mississippi State University's football program got one player smaller Tuesday.
Eleven days after he verbally committed to MSU after going through the school's Big Dawg Camp at Davis Wade Stadium, four-star linebacker prospect Keith Holcombe called the Bulldogs coaching staff to inform them he'll be attending his hometown school at the University of Alabama.
The 6-foot-3, 208-pounder also had offers from Vanderbilt University, University of Kentucky, Georgia Tech University , North Carolina State University and the University of Southern Mississippi. He becomes Alabama's 17th commitment of the 2014 recruiting class.
Holcombe's father, Danny, was a offensive lineman for the Tide program and the former Alabama coach Paul "Bear" Bryant from 1980-1982.
"It had always been my dream to play football in the SEC," Holcombe told ESPN.com Tuesday. "Since I've grown up here in Tuscaloosa and my dad played at Alabama for Coach [Paul] Bryant, my ultimate goal has always been to play for the Crimson Tide."
Holcombe tallied 116 tackles last season as a junior for the state of Alabama Class 6A power school. He added two sacks, nine pass break-ups, one forced fumble and one recovered fumble.
"He has all the intangibles," Hillcrest head coach Scott Martin told AL.com back in May. "He's football smart, he has great range and a great arm span. What's making these colleges drool is that he's big enough size-wise to play in the box, but he can also line up and cover a wide receiver or a running back. He's a hybrid type of player, and that makes him unusual and special."
Holcombe's story is more than inspirational as he was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at nine years old but has continued a football career by having trainers monitor his blood sugar levels. Holcombe has the same disease as current NFL quarterback Jay Cutler.
"It has made me into the player I am and pushed me to play the way I do," Holcombe told 247Sports.com. "I never let it slow me down. I am going to play like people don't know I have it. I just have to keep up with my blood sugars and if it is spiking I have to get it back down and if it is dropping then I get some carbs or sugars in me. It has gone up during games before but just because of my adrenalin but I have never had any issues with it on the field."
According to 247Sports.com, MSU's 2014 recruiting class dropped five spots to No. 38 in the country and 13th in the Southeastern Conference. The loss of Holcombe means MSU is down to one linebacker commitment, Georgia native Deshon Cooper.
"I guess a commitment in my mind, and maybe the media's mind, is very different," MSU fifth-year coach Dan Mullen said. "A commitment in my mind is someone coming to Mississippi State and not taking a visit. If you're visiting other places, I never considered you committed in the first place."
In previous public statements, Mullen has admonished the idea of verbal commitments and calling them "reservations" while still taking them in his program.
"I tell guys to be honest with us," Mullen said on the 2013 National Signing Day in February. "We're a big, honest program. We're going to tell you where you're at and what we feel about things and how things are going to shape up. To me, I tell young guys to be honest and be up front. If you like us a lot, say hey, coach, you're my first. I love you. I just want to look around to make sure. I'd say, hey, if we're ever caught in a bind where numbers are tight. I'll let you know. I'm going to have to know and let you make a decision at that point or we move on."
Bulldogs sell out season tickets for fourth straight year: according to a school release, MSU has sold out of its season football tickets for the fourth-consecutive year, The 43,300 season tickets for football sold includes a student allotment of 11,000, which will be sold on August 24.
"You look at the ticket sales, the plan of stadium expansion, the new Seal football facility for us to move into right after the year ends," Mullen said last August. "It's going to be pretty special."
Less than 1,700 three-game ticket plans, which include games against Alcorn State University, Louisiana State University and Kentucky and priced at $99, remain for sale through the Bryan Building Ticket Office and online at HailState.com/Tickets. Individual home game tickets are on sale now to members of the Bulldog Club, and will go on sale to the general public on Monday, Aug. 5.
Entering the 2013 season, the Bulldogs have sold out 23 consecutive football games, and under fifth-year head coach Dan Mullen, Mississippi State has gathered 19 of its 20 largest crowds.