GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The president of the top college football team in the country came to Gulfport High Thursday, hoping to recruit some future students. Mississippi State University President Dr. Mark Keenum didn't focus on athletics, but rather, academics.
"I can stand up here and talk to you all day about how wonderful MSU is," said Mississippi State President Dr. Mark Keenum.
He wants to see the young Admirals in front of him become future Bulldogs.
"Whatever you think you want to be, we have a program to get you there," Keenum told them.
During a recruiting stop at Gulfport High, Keenum spoke to 30 of the school's top juniors and seniors. But he didn't talk just about his campus in Starkville.
"That's why I'm passionate and why I came here to talk to you today, not to just inspire you to go to MSU, but to inspire you to make the most of your life," said Keenum.
He told them to go to college, any college.
"I urge them to come see our campus and learn about our programs. But wherever they choose to go to school, stay focused and get an education to prepare themselves for their future," he said.
"I felt it was great that he didn't just talk about his school. He talked about schools in general, and it made me feel like he genuinely cared about our higher education," said Gulfport High Senior Dylan Robicheaux.
"I thought his message was heartwarming and really comforting as to why I want to go there, and it really confirmed my decision," said Gulfport High Senior Carlee Dymond.
While Dr. Keenum didn't focus on his number-one ranked Bulldogs, he told WLOX the team's historic rise to football fame has boosted the number of applications for student admissions and housing, website hits, and Twitter followers.
"What the football team is doing is just the cherry on top, because it just helps people to know how special our university is and the great programs that we offer," said Keenum.
"I'm focused solely on the school and the programs, but the fact that they have the number one football team is a pretty big plus," said Gulfport High Senior Matthew Edwards.
"I'm pretty dead set on going there, but it's pretty icing on the cake when they have a good football team," said Robicheaux.
That's the kind of recruiting tool money just can't buy.
Dr. Keenum also spoke to the Gulfport Rotary, focusing on his school's impact on research and jobs in Mississippi.