Mississippi State and head coach Dan Mullen saw great success in 2014, winning 10-games, playing in the Orange Bowl, being ranked number one in the country for five straight weeks and was the first ever team ranked number-one in the college football playoff.
But, with only seven players listed as starters coming back for 2015 what is left in the Bulldog Cupboard?
We still have a long way to go before we reach kickoff on September 5th down at Southern Miss and while we still have a lot that can happen in recruiting and the offseason, it’s never too early to start looking ahead at who might be your major players in 2015 for Mississippi State.
Over the next few weeks we will look at each position and give you a best guess on who might make an impact and why.
Today we lead off with the running back position.
Key Loss: Josh Robinson – declared for the NFL Draft.
Returning Roster Players:
Brandon Holloway, Ashton Shumpert, Dontavian Lee, Aeris Williams
New Dawgs on the Horizon:
NOTE: These players are tentative until they actually sign on Wednesday February 4, 2015.
Malik Dear – Murrah (Jackson, MS) signed early and a January enrollee.
Alec Murphy – Nixa (Nixa, MO)
Lost Production: The Bulldogs accounted for 3,030-rushing yards in 2014 and while they tallied those yards in a number of ways, they lose 1,416 of those yards which is almost half. The bulk of those yards lost come from Robinson as he accounted for 1,203-rushing yards and 11-touchdowns.
What’s Back: Half of those yards come back IF quarterback Dak Prescott comes back for 2015. Prescott has until January 15th to declare for the NFL.
The leading rusher outside of Prescott coming back is Brandon Holloway and Ashton Shumpert. The duo accounted for 568-rushing yards and 3-touchdowns.
Most Likely Scenario: One position the Bulldogs always find playmakers at is running back. Since Dan Mullen came to Starkville in 2009, two running backs (Anthony Dixon and Vick Ballard) have gone on the NFL and Ladarius Perkins is trying to make a team himself. Throw in Josh Robinson leaving early and that’s four running backs that have gone on to the next level.
The Bulldogs will be young but talented at running back in 2015.
Look for Brandon Holloway to stay as the change of pace runner for the Bulldogs with his speed and athleticism.
Ashton Shumpert is the leader in the clubhouse heading into the spring but it could be a battle between Aeris Williams and Dontavian Lee as both will battle for snaps this spring.
Don’t count out Malik Dear either this spring as the rising true freshman can play running back or line up in the slot.
Rising Star: Has to be Aeris Williams who redshirted in 2014. Many felt the 6-1 205 lb back could have played this year if needed.
He has a knack for finding the hole and has great speed to play in the SEC. Williams rushed for over 2,000-yards his senior year in high school and 30-touchdowns. It will be interesting to watch him this spring.
Final Take: Losing Robinson from a production and experience stand point hurts – there is no denying that. But, he has to do what he feels is best for him and we wish him well on his NFL career.
For the Bulldogs in 2015, there are several backs that State can turn to and we won’t know much until kickoff 2015. The Bulldogs continue to recruit well at the running back position and house bigger, faster backs on this team that can carry the load in an SEC type ball game.
While the position may be a little young in 2015, fully expect to see what you’ve seen the past six years from the Bulldogs – good solid production at the running back position and the ability to run the football.