Are you still committed to Mississippi State?
"Nothing has changed at all. I am going to be a Mississippi State Bulldog."
Talk about your official visit to MSU this weekend.
"When I got there, I met with and talked to a lot of the coaches. We went out to dinner along with a couple of other recruits that came down on their visits. The food was great. Friday night I hung out with Corey Spells, one of the redshirt freshmen. That was pretty cool. We both are Atlanta boys. We talked about the differences in Atlanta and Starkville, Mississippi. Starkville is a lot smaller. Saturday morning we went to Columbus, Mississippi where the team was and had breakfast with them. We rode the bus back with the team. I liked that. We watched the game. It was pretty good but I think the refs cheated them out of a game. After the game, I hung out with Michael Heard, who went to school with me at Lovejoy. He showed me around and I met some of his friends and other players. We had a good night out. We woke up this morning (Sunday) and had breakfast with the coaches. After breakfast, we met up with some professors. After that, I met up with (AD/Student Life) Ann Carr and she gave me my schedule for next semester. (Keith will sign with MSU in December and come in January.-Gene). Later I had a meeting with Coach Croom. I talked to him about 15 to 20 minutes."
Have you talked to Coach Croom much prior to that meeting?
"I call him three or four times a week. Sometimes when I call him he is in the supermarket walking around shopping for groceries."
Three or four times a week is a lot. Why do you call him so often?
"I know he can't call me as much as he would like, but if he could he would. That's why I call him all the time. I'm just trying to establish a relationship with him. I feel like you have to have a great relationship with your coach. And Coach Croom is like another father to me. He has the father mentality. (Plus) he's had some tough games and I just want to make sure he is alright."
You say Coach Croom is like a father to you. What is it about him that makes you feel that way?
"The first time I ever met him he put his arm around me and hugged me and told me that he was going to be there for me. Not too many guys are going to do that. They are usually just going to shake your hand. Since then, his attitude hasn't changed. And I'm always going to be there for him, too. It's like a father-son type relationship. Your father is always going to be there for you and your son is always going to be there for you at the lows and at the highs. Coach Croom, at his lows, I have been there for him. And at my lows he has been there for me."
Who is your recruiting coach for Mississippi State?
"Coach (Woody) McCorvey was my recruiting coach, but it was really Paul Gonnella, the (MSU) GA, that got me down there. I still call Paul every single day. He is like a brother to me."
What was your impressions of the players at MSU?
"They are like family, like brothers to me. They took me right on in and treated me good and made sure I was taken care of. The entire time we were out, they were like, 'Keith, you need anything?' I said I'm ok."
What did you think about Starkville and Mississippi State?
"I liked it. I liked the football atmosphere. I live out here in Hampton, GA and it's like country here. It's like a little Starkville. Everybody knows everybody else."
Do you plan on visiting any other schools?
"No, I'm through."
How many schools wound up offering you a scholarship?
"Do you want them all? There's something like 20."
Sure. Who are they?
"Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Clemson, North Carolina, NC State, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, UCLA, Oklahoma State, Columbia, Brown, Indiana, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Memphis, Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, Tulane...that's all that I can think of right now."
You could have gone anywhere in the United States. What was it about MSU that caused you to commit to them?
"They are not to far from home. And playing time is a big factor to me. I don't want to be redshirted. I could have gone to most of those other schools and not gotten redshirted, but Coach Croom is like a father figure and that is the type guy that I want to play for."
Was he the deciding factor, then?
"He really was. He was the deciding factor."
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Gene Swindoll is the publisher of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.