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 take a look at the linebackers for the Bulldogs.
Key Losses: Christian Holmes, Matthew Wells, (Assuming Benardrick McKinney turns Pro)
Returning Roster Players:
Quadry Antoine, Richie Brown, Beniquez Brown, J.T. Gray, Gerri Green, Dezmond Harris, Zachary Jackson, DeAndre Ward
New Dawgs on the Horizon:
NOTE: These players are tentative until they actually sign on Wednesday February 4, 2015.
Timothy Washington – Yazoo City, MS (Yazoo City high school)
Traver Jung – Holmes Community College
Darrien McNair – Ocala, FL (Trinity Catholic high school)
Lost Production: You have to assume for now that Bendardrick McKinney is heading to the NFL. Many project him a first round pick and he could have bolted last year. For now we will assume he is all but gone, so if he does return, that is a huge plus.
McKinney again led the Bulldogs in tackles with 71-total tackles and departing senior Matthew Wells tallied 45.
All together the Bulldogs lose 176-tackles and 7-sacks out of these departing players.
What’s Back: The Bulldogs bring back rising juniors Richie and Benny Brown – both who saw significant playing time and should be the cornerstone of the 2015 defense. Add in a McKinney clone in Gerri Green along with Zach Jackson and others and this group could be very good in 2015.
Returning numbers: 170-tackles, 3.5-sacks and 5-interceptions
Most Likely Scenario: McKinney heads to the NFL and while that will sting, this unit is one of the deepest on the roster and should be even more athletic in 2015. Richie Brown should man the inside and play along Benny Brown and Green.
Zach Jackson, along with Quadry Antoine, Dez Harris, J.T. Gray and others, give the Bulldogs quality depth and bodies to continue to keep players fresh through an entire ballgame.
Rising Star: You can pick one of many on this unit, but I’m going with Green. Yes he hasn’t taken a snap yet as he redshirted in 2014, but at 6-5 and 230 lbs, he has the build and size to be a dominant SEC football player. Throw in that he can run and cover and he has all the makings of another great MSU linebacker.
Final Take: Mississippi State has done a great job in recruiting when you talk about linebackers. While you hate to see McKinney go, you totally understand. He has earned the right to head to the next level, plus that’s just another recruiting tool for the Bulldogs moving forward.
With the talent and depth returning in 2015, you should feel very confident about the linebacker position in Starkville.