As ink flowed through the pens used to sign national letters of intent on Wednesday, Mississippi State University added five more players to its 2020 recruiting class. In total, MSU has signed 26 players since December 2018, according to a press release from the MSU Athletic Department.
Rufus Harvey, a Starkville native, was part of that class and will be an option for a wide receiver. Head coach Mike Leach is known for his use of the air-raid offensive scheme to attack defenses and said that he has the ability to create an offense.
“He’s a playmaker,” Leach said. “That guy kind of jumps off the screen and is really dynamic with the ball.”
Leach said his meetings with the players on the recruiting trail reinforced MSU providing athletes an opportunity in this state. The meetings also stressed the importance of football to Mississippians. Leach said he searched every corner of the state.
“I 'cob-webbed' it all over the state; top, bottom, sideways, crossways, the whole thing,” Leach said. “I hit some great places, and, to be perfectly honest, seldom knew where I was as I was going there. It was exciting, and I look forward to seeing even more.”
Making the move from the west coast to Mississippi was one both Leach and transfer quarterback KJ Costello, a player from Stanford who is originally from Rancho Santa Margarita, California, had to experience.
In his time with the Cardinal, Costello threw for 6,151 yards and 49 touchdowns. Leach said the quarterback starting position will be up for grabs as Garrett Shrader and Jaylen Maben will most likely be competing with Costello for the spot.
Leach said when Costello entered the transfer portal, they contacted him. During his time at Washington State University, Leach coached against Costello, and his coaching staff knew about him.
“We were quite familiar with one another,” Leach said. “KJ is kind of a stranger to Mississippi, but he wasn’t really a stranger to most of our offensive staff.”
In regards to in-state players, Leach said they had a commitment to not only MSU academics but also to MSU football.
“The other thing that’s exciting about Mississippi State, a lot of these guys starting back before I got here, and really, probably before that if you count their parents, have had an excitement toward Mississippi State Football,” Leach said.
That in-state connection is something Leach would like to use in recruitment for the program during his tenure with the Bulldogs. Leach said he would like to get the best players in the area and then extend out if he can.
“In this state, the players from Mississippi have a real identity with Mississippi State,” Leach said. “I think it's important to stay closer because that’s the smartest way to do it because there's a lot of people here who would like to stay close to home.”