Florida might have edge in talent on Mississippi

October 20, 2009 11:16:00 AM

Danny P Smith -


STARKVILLE -- It has made for interesting talk around the football locker room at Mississippi State. 


There has been a running debate among the Bulldogs about which state, Mississippi or Florida, has the better high school talent. 


Players like senior defensive lineman Reggie Odom, of DeLand, Fla., and redshirt freshman defensive back Corey Broomfield, of Palm Bay, Fla., are standing up for their home state. 


Odom said players from Mississippi take exception to their claims. 


"We''ll say Florida has the best talent. If (Anthony) Dixon hears that, he''ll come running from somewhere, maybe the meeting room, and he''ll say we''ve got it wrong because the best players come from Mississippi," Odom said. 


Odom said Florida should have the edge because of "speed and talent" and there are so many high schools at the Class 5A and 6A level that already have players prepared for the next level. 


"It must be something in the water," Odom said. 


Broomfield believes every high school in Florida has the potential to have a Division I prospect. 


MSU coach Dan Mullen knows how much talent exists in Florida. He recruited the state for four years as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach of the Gators. 


"If you look nationally recruiting wise, it''s California, Florida, and Texas at No. 1, 2, and 3 for the top players, so they have a target-rich environment to go hunting in for players down there," Mullen said. 


The Bulldogs have eight players on their roster from Florida, which is the third most behind Mississippi and Alabama. 


Odom, Broomfield, and the other Bulldogs with Florida ties will be in for a treat at 6:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN) when MSU plays host to No. 2 University of Florida. 


Odom said Mullen has had to calm defensive linemen Pernell McPhee and Sean Ferguson in practice this week. McPhee is from Pahokee, Fla., and Ferguson is from Miami. 


"He had to tell Pernell to calm down so we could get the game plan in," Odom said. 


McPhee is fifth on defense with 29 tackles. He also has two and a half sacks and one forced fumble. 


Mullen said McPhee has a great motor and gives the effort he''s looking for at practice and in games. 


"He''s tried to improve himself as a defensive lineman with his techniques, his reads and how fast he is on the field," Mullen said. "You see that improvement week in and out. As a first-year player, I''ve been pleased with how fast he''s learned." 


Broomfield started his first game at cornerback Saturday in a 27-6 win against Middle Tennessee State. He had a pair of interceptions, five tackles, and was recognized as the SEC Freshman of the Week.. 


While growing up in Brevard County in Florida, Broomfield grew up a fan of the Gators said he and his father used to cut grass for Florida alumni. 


"Some of the alumni that couldn''t go to the game would give my dad tickets and we would go to the game," Broomfield said. "I''m really looking forward to this game, and it''s real big for me to play in it. I want to show all of the people back home and prove Urban (Meyer) wrong about me." 




Mullen looks at BCS 


Mullen looks at the Bowl Championship Series standings when he determines the best team in the country. 


Florida may have slipped a notch to No. 2 behind Alabama in The Associated Press rankings, but Mullen still considers the Gators the team to beat because they are at the top of the BCS list. 


"That determines who gets to go hold the crystal ball at the end of the year," Mullen said. "They are No. 1 in that poll, so that puts them squarely at No. 1. They are defending national champs and haven''t lost a game yet, so it''s hard-pressed not to say they aren''t the No. 1 team in the country." 




A winning attitude 


Mullen wants the Bulldogs to go into any game -- including Saturday''s matchup against the defending national champion Gators -- thinking they can win. 


"We''re planning on winning the game," Mullen said. "We don''t go into a game thinking we''re not going to win. With our guys, the focus is on doing what we have to do to win the game. There''s nothing like winning a football game. 


"Last week''s win was really exciting, so I don''t know if this one will be any crazier. It''s hard to win football games, but our focus is to find ways to do it every single week." 




Healthy Bulldogs 


Senior defensive back Marcus Washington was back at Sunday''s practice and Mullen said he showed no signs of being slowed by the shoulder injury he suffered against Middle Tennessee State. 


"He was fine and went through the whole practice," Mullen said. 


There were a couple of other players who sat out the workout with cold symptoms, but Mullen expects them back by the end of the week. 




No change at QB 


Mullen has been pleased with the way senior quarterback Tyson Lee, of Columbus, has run the offense and has no plans for changes at the position. 


With the status of sophomore Chris Relf still unclear, freshmen Daniel Stegall and Tyler Russell are preparing for possible action in practice. Relf has been suspended for the past two games.  


"Tyson is showing improvement from week to week, so I see him being the guy," Mullen said. "We''re getting the other guys ready, but we''re going to be smart. If we''re going to play Tyler Russell, we''re going to play Tyler Russell and go with him. That hasn''t changed." 




Extra tickets 


The MSU athletic department announced Monday that tickets are available for the Florida game at ground level on the West side. The cost of the tickets are $50 each. 


"We''re expecting those to sell out pretty fast," Mullen said. "This is the game of the year in the state of Mississippi, so we''re expecting to have the whole state behind us and helping us win this football game." 


To purchase those tickets, call 662-325-2600, 1-888-GO-DAWGS (463-2947) or visit mstateathletics.com/tickets.