Team preview: Mississippi State

Blue Ribbon Illustrated previews the 2004-05 college football season, exclusively on Insider.

Originally Published: July 28, 2004
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Life has been a whirlwind for Sylvester Croom since he accepted the task of rebuilding Mississippi State football last Dec. 1.

The former Alabama standout and assistant coach, most recently the running backs coach for the Green Bay Packers, performed double duty for more than a month, splitting time with the Packers during their playoff run and trying to put together his first Bulldog recruiting class weeks after the school received a damning NCAA letter of inquiry that accused the former staff of improper recruiting.

Green Bay was eliminated in an NFC semifinal and Croom did what he could in recruiting, signing an unheralded class that included just one member-Vicksburg, Miss., linebacker Rory Johnson-of the Mobile Register's Super Southeast 120.

Croom, the first black head football coach in the history of the Southeastern Conference, is already drawing rave reviews at Mississippi State and the Bulldogs don't play a game until Sept. 4. The son of a Tuscaloosa minister, Croom has been praised for bringing discipline back to the program.