Wednesday morning was a first for every coach around the country as they began the inaugural early signing period in college football, open for all players around the country.
It was all especially new for Mississippi State’s head coach Joe Moorhead, who is experiencing life in the Southeastern Conference for the first time. Specifically, recruiting which has long been the lifeblood of the SEC.
The transition of becoming a head coach while also preparing for the early signing period was a difficult one the last few weeks, but Moorhead made it through his first one. He’s not quite settled on a decision as to whether this decision was a good one by the NCAA.
“I’m going to look at it the first year and digest,” Moorhead said. “The thing that made it difficult is you get hired, you need to secure your current commits, you need to hire additional guys and you need to hire full-time guys. From a coaching perspective, it does present some challenges from a systematic and strategic standpoint.”
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MSU was able to keep most of its class together to this point and they signed 15 players in the early signing period. That was good enough to be ranked 21st nationally by the 247Sports Composite rankings and eighth in the SEC.
The early signees consisted of nine offensive players and six defenders, two players come from the junior college ranks and half of the class to this point is from the state of Mississippi.
“We wanted to bring in players with football ability to help us win an SEC Championship and compete for a national championship,” Moorhead said. “We wanted guys who are smart, tough, disciplined, have great work ethic and care more about team success than individual recognition.”
Moorhead mentioned that he couldn’t have put his first class together at MSU without the staff. Mostly, he gave a lot of credit to off-field coaches Brad Peterson, Pat Austin and Rod Gibson. All three coaches were retained from Dan Mullen’s staff. With the wild past month playing out the way it did, he doesn’t believe it would have gone as smooth without the entire staff pulling its weight.
“Change is difficult but the staff I’ve retained as well as the new hires have done an unbelievable job,” Moorhead said. “It’s a testament that we’ve built and cultivated over the past two years as well as the past two weeks.”
Moorhead also said he enjoyed getting to know people around the state of Mississippi. With plans of many more signing classes to come in the state, it was imperative, in his eyes, to get a feel of what Mississippi was all about.
“I’d like to thank the high school coaches and fans we met on the road,” Moorhead said. “The people were accommodating and welcomed this Pittsburgh boy with open arms. Southern hospitality is a real thing as is their passion for Mississippi State football.”
MSU is set to sign four or five more players in February depending on how the numbers work out. Moorhead said that was “fluid.”