Dec 31, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defensive back Corey Griffin (14) chases Mississippi State Bulldogs wide receiver De
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 look at the Wide Receivers and Tight Ends.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
Jameon Lewis, WR – Graduation
Robert Johnson, WR – Graduation
Malcolm Johnson, TE – Graduation
Returning Roster Players:
De’Runnya Wilson, Fred Brown, Fred Ross, Joe Morrow, Gabe Myles, Shelby Christy, Jamoral Graham, Kareem Vance, and Jesse Jackson
Gus Walley, Hunter Bradley, Darrion Hutcherson, Rashun Dixon, and B.J. Hammond
New Dawgs on the Horizon:
NOTE: These players are tentative until they actually sign on Wednesday February 4, 2015.
Donald Gray – Copiah-Lincoln CC (Wesson, MS) signed early and a January enrollee.
Dontea Jones – Louisville (Louisville, MS)
Justin Johnson – Hoover (Birmingham, AL)
Farrod Green – Wesson Attendance Center (Wesson, MS)
Lost Production: It was the best year ever for Mississippi State in the passing game. The Bulldogs totaled 3,649 yards through the air on 261 receptions. They will lose 108 of those receptions and 1,459 of the yards they accumulated in 2014. That’s 41.3% of the receptions and right at 40% of the yards. No one really dominated the amount of yards or receptions. A lot of that is because Jameon Lewis missed so much of the season due to injury. Had he been healthy, the amount of production we lost would have likely been much higher.
What’s Back: Basically 60% of the yards and receptions. Most of the passing game will come back with a year of experience under their belt. This could be a huge selling point on whether or not Dak Prescott decides to return to Starkville.
The leading receiver on the team will return, and that guy is De’Runnya Wilson. He led the team in yards, receptions, and receiving touchdowns. The most important needs the Bulldogs will need to fill will be in the slot with Jameon Lewis graduting and at Tight End with the graduation of Malcolm Johnson
Most Likely Scenario: Mississippi State has never been known for producing great receivers, but that is slowly starting to change. De’Runnya Wilson could be the first Wide Receiver to play significant minutes in the NFL since Eric Moulds. Because of his size, Wilson is an almost impossible matchup for any defensive back. If the Bulldogs want to keep teams from double teaming Wilson on the outside in the hopes of shutting him down, someone is going to have to step up in the slot. Jamoral Graham and Gabe Myles were brought in to play the slot, but JUCO All-American Donald Gray will likely see most of the minutes at the slot. JUCO players are brought in to play immediately, and I expect Gray to do just that.
Don’t forget about the two Freds either. Both Fred Brown and Fred Ross had some moments where they looked great. If they can step up and take some of the pressure off of Wilson, the better off the offense will be.
The Bulldogs will have a great receiving corps in 2015.
Rising Star: There is no question about this. It has to be De’Runnya Wilson.
Wilson is a dynamic receiving threat. Had he not taken his sophomore and junior seasons in high school off from football, he likely would have been rated higher than a 3 star prospect. There wasn’t a lot to go on for rating the hard to cover receiver. Wilson is another example of Dan Mullen’s staff finding the diamond in the rough that no one else values as much.
Final Take: If you had told me at the beginning of 2014 that Jameon Lewis would suffer a significant leg injury that would keep him out or severely hinder his playing time in a large number of games, but the team would still have the best season ever in passing, I would have said you were nuts. But that is exactly what happened. There won’t be any one player to rack up gaudy numbers next year simply because there are so many weapons that Dak Prescott can get the ball to. The only way that changes is if Prescott focuses most of his attempts to Wilson next year. He didn’t do it this year, so I don’t foresee that happening next year either.
The Bulldogs might not have a legacy of outstanding receiver play, but if 2014 is any indication, that is about to change.