STARKVILLE -- Rodney Hood sat down to watch the tape of Mississippi State's 69-57 loss at Florida this past week in Gainesville and almost couldn't recognize the player wear No. 4 for the Bulldogs. "I watched the replay of the Florida game and I was very disappointed in the way I played," Hood said. "I didn't have a bad game but I could have been more assertive."
STARKVILLE -- While serving as an assistant coach at Pepperdine University, Per Nilsson always followed results in the Southeastern Conference and tracked his alma mater, MSU. While Pepperdine was in the midst of winning 17 straight West Conference titles and the 2006 national championship, Nilsson was saddened that his alma mater had fallen on hard times.
STARKVILLE -- When Mississippi State University sophomore Malte Stropp saw MSU assistant men's tennis coach Matt Hill at one of his matches in Germany, he knew Starkville would be a great place to call home.
ATHENS, Ga. -- Khaalidah Miller shook off a two-game shooting slump as she and teammate Jasmine Hassell scored 16 points each to lead the No. 21 University of Georgia women's basketball team to a 70-60 victory against Mississippi State 70-60 on Thursday night, ending a two-game losing streak.
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Already a key player down, the University of Mississippi women's basketball team could only watch the problems mount as the University of Kentucky put on its most ferocious defensive display yet. Courtney Marbra scored seven points to lead Ole Miss, but the Rebels committed the most turnovers in a Southeastern Conference game this year Thursday in an 82-41 loss to No. 6 Kentucky.
CALEDONIA -- Consistency was an elusive ingredient Thursday night. For large stretches of his team's game against New Hope High School, Caledonia High boys basketball coach Josh Scott saw a team that shared the basketball, took good shots, and did a lot of things it takes to win games. Take away the final four minutes of the second quarter and the Confederates might have accomplished that goal.
STARKVILLE -- Growing up, Kase Kingery never saw playing with a soccer ball as "work." Like a lot of kids who had discovered a sport that fit them, Kingery spent as many hours as he could with a soccer ball honing his skills. The drills he did in and around Starkville often included dribbling exercises and shooting tests with his right and left foot. He would try to hit the crossbar again and again, or he would use a T-shirt as a target and place it on the crossbar.
STARKVILLE -- Minutes after Dan Mullen put on the maroon jacket signifying him as the next Mississippi State head football coach, he made a promise to the residents of his new state. Mullen vowed not only to remain loyal to the student-athletes in the Magnolia state, but also to win games and championships with those players. "We are going to add 13 more today from the state of Mississippi (to) our program and we can keep that foundation alive," Mullen said Wednesday.
Tony Stanford and his coaches have reason to be proud. In 2008, Stanford came to Columbus High School with coach Bubba Davis with a goal to transform the school's football program. Stanford continued that mission after taking over for Davis as head coach prior to the 2010 season. Like Davis, his formula included a core principle: Hard work in the weight room pays dividends. The eight Columbus High School football players who signed scholarships to play football in college are proof the Falcons are moving in the right direction.
New Hope High School football coach Michael Bradley experienced another first in his coaching career Wednesday morning. "Darius, you are the first player I have ever had sign wearing a bow tie," Bradley said. "This is a big moment for me." Wednesday also was a big moment for the Trojans, as Darius Petty, Joseph Reeves, and Daniel Gregory signed scholarships to play football at East Central Community College in Decatur.
STARKVILLE -- Erik Rogers and Cory Cannon spent the past two seasons playing beside one another on the offensive and defensive lines for the Starkville High School football team. On Wednesday, they secured opportunities in college to see how much they can maximize their talents on one side of the ball.
Brandon Bell and Blake Sharp did nearly everything on the football field in their high school careers. The next challenge for the Heritage Academy standouts will be to earn playing time on one of the nation's best teams. Bell and Sharp took the first step in that journey Wednesday morning when they signed scholarships to play football for the national champion East Mississippi Community College football team.
WEST POINT -- Carson Miller and Brandon Edwards have dreams of playing on a team in the Football Bowl Subdivision. After nearly getting offers to play at that level, the West Point High School standouts are more than ready to make a name for themselves in the fertile Mississippi junior college ranks. Miller, a lineman, signed with Pearl River Community College Wednesday, while Edwards signed with reigning Mississippi Junior College Athletic Association champion and national champion East Mississippi C.C.
MACON -- Tyrone Shorter couldn't help but think back Wednesday about how far some of his players have come. National Signing Day typically is a time for coaches, parents, and players to reflect on an athletic journey that includes plenty of ups and downs and lessons learned. Six Noxubee County High School football players shared those memories with Shorter, members of the team's coaching staff, and family members Wednesday as they announced their plans to play the sport in college.
The message remains the same for Sharon Fanning-Otis: Her Mississippi State University women's basketball team needs to get tougher. As MSU (13-8, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) enters the month of February, it is running out of time if it wants to realize its goal to return to the NCAA tournament. At this time last season, MSU started to round into shape and played its best basketball of the campaign, going 5-5 in the final two months.
STARKVILLE -- While the Starkville High School boys soccer team has some unfinished business for the 2011-12 season, two Yellow Jackets nailed down their future plans Wednesday afternoon. Goalkeeper Addison Watson and defender Austin Wileman each signed scholarships to play soccer on the next level. Watson signed with Missouri State University, a Division I school that is a member of the Missouri Valley Conference, while Wileman signed with Itawamba Community College.
New Hope High School girls soccer coach Mary Nagy always knew Sarah Hern would be ready to answer the call when she needed leadership. "Sarah was always our leader," Nagy said. "The players voted her as a captain in 10th grade. The leadership continued from there. The other players looked up to her. Her maturity was great both on and off the field. She is leaving behind a legacy, and has done a great job of preparing the next group of leaders."
OXFORD -- Hugh Freeze basically had a three-week period to patch together his first recruiting class. All things considered, the new University of Mississippi football coach is pleased with the results. "I'm never going to sit up and tell you every kid is great, because that's proven in time," Freeze said. "But we do believe it's very good."
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The national champion University of Alabama football team restocked the nation's top defense, scooped up a few highly recruited offensive playmakers and generally had what's becoming a typical signing day for Nick Saban & Co. In other words, replacing departed stars with blue-chippers across the board on a program that has won two of the last three national championships.
CALEDONIA -- On the biggest day of his athletic career thus far, Caledonia High School's Cole Carter shared a lot of laughs and hugged a lot of people.
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