The 6-foot-2, 285-pound Solomon Ona first caught my attention when he performed well during an Oklahoma drill earlier this week. During Friday morning practice session, he once again stood out. This time, he performed well enough that Mississippi State's head coach, Sly Croom, made a point of mentioning him as "a pleasant surprise" during his post-practice session with the media.
Solomon, who was an excellent student in high school (3.4 gpa) who played both defensive tackle and offensive guard, earned numerous honors as a senior at Baker High School, including Class 4A All-State, All-District and All-Metro. Those accomplishments and his talent garnered him some recruiting attention and offers from several in-state schools and even one from out of state. "McNeese State, Nichols State, Southern University, Northwestern and Southern Miss recruited me and offered me scholarships, but I didn't like their campuses."
However, none of those school could satisfy one thing that Solomon was looking for. "I wanted to play in the SEC," Solomon explained.
Because of that, Solomon turned down their scholarship offers and took the matter into his own hands by contacting Mississippi State about the possibility of walking on. "I came up here in the spring on an unofficial visit," said Solomon. "I sent Coach (Rockey) Felker some tape, then I called him and he asked me to come up (to MSU) and talk to him. I did. He was interested in me coming here and I was interested in coming here after seeing the school."
Even though it's too early to know for sure how much or even if Solomon, who has moved up to third team, will play this year, it's obvious he has head coach Sly Coom looking his way during the early days of training camp. That's definitely a step in the right direction when it comes to possible playing time.
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com, the source for Mississippi State sports on TheInsiders.com sports network. You can contact him by email at email@example.com.