Croom visits North Panola

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 11, 2007

Mississippi State University head football coach Sylvester Croom (center) stopped at the North Panola High School Wednesday morning. His trip, dubbed Road Dog Caravan, will include stops in Mississippi and Alabama. Visiting with Croom were (left) North Panola High School Principal Anthony Barnes and Cougar head football coach Vincent Johnson. Photo courtesy of The Southern Reporter

 Bulldog coach stops at NP High

By David Howell

The Southern Reporter

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Mississippi State head football coach Sylvester Croom stopped in Cougar country Wednesday.

The stop was part of the Road Dog Caravan, where the Bulldog Club and the Mississippi State Alumni Association partnered to create an eight-city caravan throughout Mississippi and Alabama to promote Mississippi State University and Mississippi State Athletics.

Croom said his stops this week included Meridian on Monday, Tupelo on Tuesday, and he was covering several north Mississippi schools Wednesday. The Road Dog Caravan will also traverse the state four days next week.

The stops are partly a recruiting effort and partly a fundraising effort, Croom said Wednesday. Croom said his staff was also doing public service work, specifically talking about leadership with students.

Visiting with Croom and his staff Wednesday morning were High School Principal Anthony Barnes and Cougar head coach Vincent Johnson. Croom said he was good friends with Anthony Barnes’ brother, Rod Barnes, who was the former men’s head basketball coach at the University of Mississippi.

“It was exciting for the kids,” Johnson said about the visit.

“This is the first time I have been to this school,” Croom said, adding that he made several stops at the South Panola High School.

“We think Derek Pegues is going to have a big year for us this year,” Croom said talking about area talent.

“Our coaches are doing a good job of finding people in this state,” Croom said about ongoing recruiting efforts. He added that his staff was always looking for a diamond in the rough.

“We don’t want to overlook another Jerry Rice or Walter Peyton,” Croom said.

Croom is the first black head football coach in the history of the Southeastern Conference.

He inherited a struggling Bulldog team, and is working to bring the Bulldogs back to the forefront of SEC football. Since taking the job at Mississippi State, his team has accumulated a 9 – 25 record.