It was January of 2009, and Dan Mullen had just been hired as the head coach of Mississippi State. Wayne Co. senior Tracey Lampley had committed to the University of Southern Mississippi, but as MSU turned up the heat, Lampley remained true to his commitment to Southern Miss.
The word commitment meant something to Tracey Lampley, and he even took time to drive to Starkville to tell the staff in person that he was committing to the Golden Eagles, something unheard of in today's recruiting world.
It was this moment that fans started to get an idea of what they were getting character wise in Tracey Lampley, and as they would soon find out, they also got one of the most electrifying players in Southern Miss history.
In a four year career that has simply flown by, Lampley has wowed crowds and has come up with big play after big play at crucial times for the Golden Eagles.
Time and time again, the Eagles have looked to the 5'9 "Lamp" who plays with as much heart as anyone who has ever put on the black and gold.
Ironically, in his senior season, he has been needed as much off the field as on it.
"I feel like it has been my job to keep the legacy going despite the losses this season," he said in an interview after practice with GoldenEaglePride.com.
"I am trying to teach the juniors, sophomores, and freshmen about this program and what they have to do to turn this around. I just have to believe that something good is going to come out of this season.
"Guys look to me as a leader so I have to be there for them in a positive way. I have to believe something good is going to come out of this. I told Anthony (Alford) in the last game, 'This is football, you have to stay positive and stay with it. If you don't make mistakes in football, then you are not playing the game."
Lampley, ever the leader, continues to find the good in whatever life throws at him.
"Like I said, I tell people I have had so many good days at Southern Miss," he said. "This season has been a life lesson. Being down a lot you have to come out fighting every week. I've been humbled.
"This season has bettered me as a person. I can show what type of character I have in a season like this. No one expected us to be 0-10, never would I have believed we would be there. Now, we are in that position, and we have no choice but to learn from it. I think the guys will learn from it and will come out and remember what this feels like."
As he prepares to take the field for the final time in the "Rock," there are a lot of emotions that will flood his mind.
"Emotions will be high for me, there is no doubt about it," he said. "Its my last time to play in front of these fans that I love and that have supported me through thick and thin.
"I want to give them a show and give them something to remember in my last game."
Fans can recall many great memories of Tracey Lampley. From his first punt return for a touchdown as a true freshman in "The Rock" that put him on the radar of many fans, to his catch on third and long that sealed the game against Virginia.
My personal favorite, however, was the catch down the sideline against Houston in the C-USA championship game that helped seal the deal and bring the conference title back where it belonged in Hattiesburg.
There are so many more. Every time he touches the ball, fans can't imagine what they'll see next as he spins, jukes, starts, stops, and bursts his way to fight for every yard.
More than anything, Southern Miss is place that will always remain deep in the heart of the kid from Waynesboro, Mississippi.
"Southern Miss means everything in the world to me, it really does," he said, getting a little emotional.
"I know I wouldn't have the opportunity that I have now if it wasn't for this school and football program. I thank God for it. Every time I step on the field I thank God for the opportunity to be on this field one more time.
"There are so many that would love to do what I do every day. Another day to play, it is just a blessing, and I'll never forget the great times I have had playing on this field."
Here is one of many that look back on the career of Tracey Lampley and know that we have seen greatness in humility, patience in trial, physical uniqueness on the field, and leadership off of it when it was needed most.
"Lamp" is one who is a true Golden Eagle through and through.
As so many others who have gone before him have, he's carried the legacy well.
Thanks for everything, Lamp.