If you missed it, long time MSU offensive guard commit Norman Price out of Hinds JC did not sign with the Bulldogs on JUCO national signing day Wednesday. Instead, he opted for Southern Miss. Apparently his girlfriend will be attending USM and that heavily influenced his decision. I’m not going to take any shots at him for that. I appreciate any player who wants to play for Mississippi State, and for those who don’t that is their business and best of luck to them. But where does this leave State?
First off, Price was being added for depth. In terms of how critical he was to the O-line over the next two years, it’s not as much as Jocquell Johnson at tackle who did sign with MSU. Here’s how the Guard position stacks up as we head into the spring…
- Justin Malone
- Ben Beckwith
- Jamaal Clayborn
- Cole Carter
- Kent Flowers/Jake Thomas (assuming they can switch to Guard)
Justin Malone is coming off an injury in the Oklahoma State game that forced him to miss the entire year. Obviously there are some concerns here after an injury but he did get the majority of the snaps at RG in 2012 when he was splitting time with Tobias Smith.
Ben Beckwith replaced Malone this fall and got a ton of playing time. He’s a former walk-on but that doesn’t mean anything. He held up well and has experience in the rigors of the SEC.
Jamaal Clayborn is a future star at Guard. He broke through his redshirt to earn playing time this year and I expect him to contend for a starting spot next fall….if he isn’t starting at LG by the 2nd half of the season I’ll be surprised.
Cole Carter will be a redshirt sophomore next year. He really should be ready to be a solid backup at this stage of his career, but, you never really know with some of these guys. This #4 spot is really where I expected Price to fit in, but he would be just as big of a wild card as Carter is (at least from where I’m sitting).
Kent Flowers and Jake Thomas are expected to be tackles in the future. They both redshirted in 2013 and I hope they aren’t needed at Guard.
The loss of Norman Price certainly stings a little, but it’s not the end of the world. It will all hinge on how healthy the line can stay in 2014. Price was basically an insurance policy for that, but now Carter, Flowers and Thomas will have to do the trick unless the staff can pull out some kind of rabbit out of their hat with another juco.