Today, ESPN ranked Taveze Calhoun as the second-best cornerback in the SEC (and called teammate Jamerson Love No. 7).
But it was two months ago when I first found out how the now-junior star even ended up at Mississippi State. I knew he wasn’t highly-recruited at all. Speaking candidly, lowly-recruited would probably be a more appropriate description.
Dan Mullen and his staff have done a good job of identifying players like that, though. Thorpe Award winner Johnthan Banks comes to mind as a signee who was going to MSU or nowhere before his eventual rise to stardom.
But as Mullen told the story this summer, most of the credit for the hidden gem of the 2011 signing class goes to Calhoun’s high school principal.
Less than two weeks before national signing day, Mullen was in Calhoun’s hometown of Morton, Mississippi, but he was there to see someone else, a prospect regarded as one of the top players not just in the state but in the country.
The five-star stud (who did end up signing with MSU) was Mullen’s priority, but as Mullen talked with the principal that day, it was Taveze Calhoun’s name which kept coming up.
“This is the guy you want,” the principal told MSU’s head coach. “Just take a look at him. He’s our hardest worker, our best leader. He may not jump off the tape when you watch, but if you take him, you won’t regret it.”
Well, why not give him a look, Mullen thought. MSU’s staff researched a little bit, saw some promising things and gave Calhoun a call.
“What are you doing this weekend,” Mullen remembers asking him.
“Well, I’m visiting Jackson State,” Mullen recalls Calhoun telling him. “I’m hoping I might get an offer.”
“Why don’t you come see us this weekend instead,” Mullen requested. “I can’t promise you anything, but we might have some room in our class. We’d like to get to know you.”
So Calhoun took Mullen up on the invite and visited MSU the weekend before signing day. Both parties were taking a chance. If State didn’t offer, Calhoun may have missed an opportunity elsewhere. And with precious few hours left until signatures had to be secured, MSU was going to spend some time on an unknown prospect on the advice of his principal.
The rest is obvious. Calhoun visited, the coaches loved him and he loved MSU. As soon as the offer was extended, Calhoun took it.
Now, he enters his junior year of SEC football with far more fanfare than when his career in Maroon and White began. A breakout player for MSU last year and a rising star in the conference, Taveze Calhoun is everything his principal promised he would be.
And he was right – Mullen doesn’t regret it.