February 22, 2009
STARKVILLE -- A four-star high school wide receiver should be interested in the system of Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen.
With a reputation for developing powerful offenses that emphasize the passing game, Mullen tries to use statistics to his advantage when delivering a message to prospects.
"The beautiful thing with a wide receiver is I can show them numbers of what success our receivers have had in the offenses I''ve coached the last several years," Mullen said.
Chad Jackson played his way to being a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award in 2005 during Mullen''s tenure as offensive coordinator at Florida. He matched a single-season record for the Gators with 88 receptions, a total that led the Southeastern Conference and ranked sixth nationally.
Florida''s offense has ranked first in the SEC in scoring offense and total offense the past two seasons under Mullen.
"That''s the No. 1 thing for them to look at," Mullen said. "If you are a wide receiver, you want to come play (at MSU). This is the offense a receiver should want to come play in. They are going to get the ball more than anyone else, so if they want the ball, this is the place for them to come, and I have the facts to prove it. That''s the thing for a receiver."
Mullen''s strategy worked to get one Chad at Florida, and now it has led to another at MSU.
Tupelo''s Chad Bumphis was one of 27 players who signed national letters of intent to play for the Bulldogs. Bumphis said Mullen''s presentation interested him.
"He tells you what he expects and tells you what he''s going to give you," Bumphis said. "He would show how he wanted to use me and what plays I''d be running. He showed me a bunch of Percy Harvin''s cutups and all of the plays."
Tupelo wide receiver coach Darryl Carter said Mullen made the right move when he showed Bumphis highlights of Harvin.
"(Bumphis) is a Percy Harvin fan," Carter said. "I compare him to a Percy Harvin, so (MSU) did enough in all the things they did (in recruiting Bumphis). It was just settled."
Bumphis believes Mullen when he says he can help him develop into a player like Harvin.
"He''s not going to lie to you, and the biggest thing is being able to trust him," Bumphis said. "If I''m going to play for somebody the next four years, I want to be able to trust and have a good relationship with him."
Mullen started to recruit Bumphis when he still was a coach at Florida. Tupelo coach Eric Collins said the relationship between Bumphis and Mullen began last spring. From the first face-to-
face meeting, the two individuals hit it off.
"Chad was interested in Florida at the time, but it became more than Florida," Collins said. "It became coach Mullen himself, and I think it is just coach Mullen''s personality. He has a very friendly outgoing personality."
Chad''s mother, Dorothy Bumphis, was impressed Mullen did not forget about her son when he got the job at MSU.
She believes God works in mysterious ways.
"Chad told me he was praying for God to give him a clue as to where I should go to school," Dorothy said. "He was really focusing on Florida. Then coach Mullen came to Mississippi State and he said coach Mullen had everything to do with it."
Chad told his mother that as long as Mullen was at Florida, the Gators were his primary interest, with the Bulldogs second.
When Mullen came to MSU, those priorities were reversed.
Since Chad was praying about his decision, Dorothy considered Mullen''s move a sign.
"(Chad) got his answer that MSU was where he needed to be," Dorothy said.
Dorothy knew Mullen had won her son''s heart, but was still anxious to hear from him herself.
Once Mullen visited the Bumphis home, Dorothy did not feel the need to entertain any other coaches.
"After he left, she canceled everybody else and made up her mind she wanted me to play for him," Chad said. "He was such a great guy when he came, and he told me he was 100 percent honest."
Dorothy said Mullen said all of the right things. He emphasized academics and what he expected from her son.
It was important for her to hear Mullen was not going to make it easy for Chad.
"I know he is going to make Chad earn everything he gets, and I can respect that," Dorothy said. "I just fell in love with coach Mullen, to be honest."
Honest was a word Bumphis'' mother, Collins, and Carter used often when describing Mullen and his approach.
For someone who deals with young people on a daily basis, Carter appreciates Mullen being someone a prospect can listen to and trust.
"That''s something kids are looking for now-a-days," Carter said.
The attention Mullen gave to Bumphis and other players was what caught Collins'' attention.
"Everyone here really liked coach Mullen," Collins said. "The thing that stood out to me was he seemed to have a genuine concern about the kids. It wasn''t just about football, but about a whole bunch of stuff. It was generally about being successful in life."
A high school athlete can visit a college campus any time, and Bumphis has been to MSU more times than he can count. An official visit is one where the school pays for the recruit''s expenses during the 48-hour period of the stay.
Bumphis took his recruiting visit Jan. 17.
"He''s been to State many, many times so from that standpoint, coach (Sylvester) Croom and his staff did an excellent job of getting Chad on campus and making him comfortable around campus," Collins said. "I''m sure they showed him all kinds of things to show him how he can fit in."
Official visits include a tour of athletic and academic facilities, meeting coaches and counselors, viewing the new jumbotron and video board and attending a basketball game at Humphrey Coliseum.
MSU''s coaching staff takes pride in treating recruits like part of the family.
Bumphis said the coaches went out of their way to make him comfortable with the surroundings.
"I just felt at home as soon as I got on campus," Bumphis said. "When I got to Starkville, it was like if I''m not in Tupelo, this is where I should be. "
Dorothy grew fond of the idea of her son becoming a Bulldog. She was pleased with the coaching staff and the fact they did not push Chad to make a hasty decision.
With Tupelo only being an hour, 15 minute drive from Starkville, Dorothy also has not made it a secret she wanted to see Chad play close to home.
Those were all the things that drew her to MSU, but it was still ultimately Chad''s decision.
Chad had kept his mother in suspense.
"For a while, I was wanting him to tell me where he was going to go and he said he really didn''t know," Dorothy said. "I was going to be happy as long as Chad was happy. If Chad had decided to go somewhere else then I would have supported him in that decision, but I was so happy he chose State."
The opportunity to play for Mullen and being close to home was too much for Chad to turn down. He called his recruitment an enjoyable experience and would not have changed a thing.
"State seemed like the perfect place," Bumphis said. "Coach Mullen is a great coach and my mom can come watch me play. I know a bunch of people there. All those factors made me want to be a Bulldog."