While deep snapper is not the most heralded of positions on the field, at times it is the most important. The Bulldogs recently added Homewood, Alabama's Aaron Feld to the commitment list to fill this need, but Feld brings a lot more to the table as Homewood's all-time sack leader. What made him choose the Bulldogs?
"I committed to Mississippi State the week before Christmas," he began. "Once the SEC schools had just about completely finished their recruiting, me and my dad – inexperienced in the ways that we are – sent a tape out and it came across the desk of Mississippi State and they looked at it and they said, "We need to get this guy."
"They came to practice. They came to look at me snap and Tim Hawthorne catch some footballs and stuff and they were pretty much set on their scholarships. They told me, 'Here's the deal: We can offer you a gray shirt and you can start in January, and if by chance we have a guy that doesn't make it, that is ineligible, or if we have a guy that leaves, you will be first in line.'
"Honestly I had a hard time with everything at first, but the more I think about it, it is not a negative thing. Yeah, you are going to miss a little time of football, but it will get returned to you on the back side of things.
"Coach Freddie Kitchens came in and spent some time at the house and we ate ribs from Dreamland in honor of coach Kitchens, since they have one in Tuscaloosa. I have not had the benefit of meeting face to face with coach Croom. Reputation alone and recent decisions coach Kitchens has told me about are the reason I chose the path that I chose.
"The deciding factor to me – I had it narrowed down to Louisiana-Monroe and Mississippi State – and the reason is that you really can't compare those two schools. The deciding factor was Croom.
"He honored somewhere around 37 scholarships to guys from the previous head coach and that says a lot to me because he didn't have to honor those scholarships and he could very well have ruined the lives of those 37 guys. They would have had a future, but they wouldn't have had the school backing and wouldn't have had football on their resume. It could have been bad.
"He's got the right ingredients to be a good person and that means a lot to me. That means when he tells me he is going to do something he is going to do it.
"He told me I am going to get a chance to snap my freshmen season, not necessarily my freshman year, but I will go in January and it will be the following football season. I will get an opportunity to snap and from there it will depend on how big I get and what I do in the mean time, I will get a chance to play some linebacker and maybe some fullback, who knows?"
Feld has played numerous positions for the Homewood defense, and as a senior at defensive end, recorded 92 tackles and was named all-metro. As a senior he broke the school's single season sack record with 18, over the previous 13, and broke the career mark with 25 over the previous 22. A four-year starter he also had 12 tackles for loss and six caused fumbles last season.
At the NIKE Camp in Oxford, he measured in at 6-foot-1 and 218 pounds, and finished in the top ten for all four categories measured amongst defensive linemen. He had a vertical leap of 32 inches and benched 225 pounds 22 times, ranking him second in both categories.
"My freshman year I started at linebacker," he commented. "I was six foot, about 170 pounds, and by the time I finished my sophomore season I was 6-1 and close to 200 pounds. I stayed there and wrestled at 195 pounds, then came back my junior year and we had lost a couple of guys and they moved me the defensive end. I was kind of an in-betweener, between defensive end and linebacker, and with defense we run – we run a 4-3 and then a 3-4 stack – and I guess I categorize myself as the stack-back.
"I am the defensive end that moves back to linebacker so we don't have to have any personnel changes. We can run four different fronts with the same personnel. I can play inside linebacker or outside linebacker and cover receivers. I can also play defensive end and defensive tackle."
While defense has been a strong point and the position he may get a chance to play, deep snapper is the slot Feld is being sought after primarily.
"I realize long-snapping is a huge part of football, something you can't do without, but it is not a high-profile position as far as what the general public sees, but everybody that follows football knows it is a real important thing," he said. "As far as me, I love doing it. I enjoy long snapping.
"I don't really compare myself to others, but I would say I snap a consistent .68. That's solely based on this summer, without pads on. I wouldn't say faster, but I can snap consistently harder with pads on, because my range of motion is more limited and that keeps it from going over peoples' head, so with pads on I am more comfortable.
"I've never timed myself with pads on though. I feel like it is faster, but I've never timed it, but I snap a consistent .68 with the Wilson ball we use in high school. I don't know what kind of effect snapping a college ball will have on me, but I know the NIKE ball that most teams use, like Vandy and Georgia Tech, was a little bit difficult to get used to, but once I got used to it everything was fine.
"Mississippi State is sponsored by Adidas, so they won't be using a NIKE ball. I assume they will be using a Wilson, which hopefully won't be much different than the ball I have been using since the ninth grade."
Feld maintains a 3.1 GPA and has scored a 24 on the ACT. He is an excellent student, focusing on Advanced Placement classes, and has already taken the two most difficult classes the school offers. He will visit MSU officially on Jan. 20.