#DawgFam15: Defensive Breakdown


Last week we looked at the offensive players in the 2015 class, now on to defense.

Geoff Collins left Starkville, but Manny Diaz returns to what looks to be a very talented recruiting class on the defensive side of the ball.


With contributors like Preston Smith, Kaleb Eulls, and P.J. Brown graduating, Mullen and staff needed to put together a solid defensive line class. By adding six big time guys in the trenches, the staff accomplished their goal.  4-star and Semper-Fi All-American Fletcher Adams is perhaps the biggest name on this list. Adams, the younger brother of current Bulldog Nelson, possesses big time strength and an impressive football intelligence.  Adams’ ability to play end or tackle will allow him to compete for playing time as early as this fall.  If he had not missed most of his junior and senior seasons, TD Moton would be regarded as a top-100 level recruit.  The 6’3″, 310 mammoth was a force in the middle and made offenses game plan around him.  Although Moton needs to work on some of his technique, his pure aggressiveness and size could let the monster see the field early for the Bulldogs.  Next up is Co-Lin DL Johnathan Calvin; Calvin chose the Maroon and White over the likes of Auburn, Arizona State, and LSU at a historic Big Dawg Camp last July.  Calvin accounted for 43 tackles, found the quarterback 7 and a half times, and forced two fumbles during the 2014 season at the JUCO powerhouse.  The 6’4″ talent will have a chance to compete for a starting spot, as he is already on campus in Starkville.  Bulldog legacy Keith Joseph Jr is who many believe can be the ‘sleeper’ of this class.  He caused a lot of problems for coaches around the state during his career.  He had 70 tackles and brought down the QB 7 times for the Pascagoula Panthers.  Kendell Jones does not have many big time offers, but the Clay-Chalkville star proved his worth when he competed in Nike’s “The Opening” last summer and held his own against the nation’s top lineman.  Jones was always in the backfield creating havoc for the Alabama power during his career.  Anfernee Mullins is probably the least-known commit for the Bulldogs.  The 6’4″ DE joined the class on October 4 during his visit to Starkville when the Bulldogs played Texas A&M.  Although extremely raw, his pure talent and big frame is more than enough where David Turner can develop him into something special.


Mississippi State has had a history of producing big time Linebackers under Dan Mullen, and this group has more than enough ability to continue that trend.  This group is headlined by UnderArmour All-American Leo Lewis, but Timothy Washington and Traver Jung are far too good to be overlooked.  Lewis selected the Bulldogs over Alabama, Florida State, LSU, and Ole Miss on National Signing Day, putting an exclamation mark on Dan Mullen’s highest rated class as a head coach.  Lewis is a freak, plain and simple.  The nation’s top Inside Linebacker has the speed to track down shifty backs and hits hard enough where opponents think twice about going across the middle.  Although loaded at Linebacker, Lewis is the type of player that has a chance to vie for early playing time.  Bulldog fans should be excited about what the Brookhaven superstar is bringing to Starkville.  Tim Washington is sometimes forgotten among Mississippi State fans, given he has been committed to State longer than any other member in the 2015 class (besides JUCO WR Donald Gray).  The talented Yazoo City star made 176 tackles as a three year starter and has a chance to be a deadly rusher off the edge in Manny Diaz’s defense.  With Matt Wells graduating, the staff needed to find a linebacker that can play his role in the defense.  Traver Jung is extremely athletic and has great instincts and speed, giving him a chance to do more than just fill Wells’ void.  The 4-star does not have overwhelming numbers, however Jung can make an impact at all times.  Look for Jung to compete for the starting spot as soon as he steps foot on campus.


With a starter in the secondary like Jamerson Love departing, Deshea Townsend and Dan Mullen needed to find corners that would be able to compete for playing time early.  The staff did that by adding two terrific corners and one do-it-all athlete that has the athleticism to play in the back end.  Maurice Smitherman is small in stature, but has the heart of a lion.  Smitherman plays with an aggressive and confident attitude that has drawn comparisons to former Bulldog star Fred Smoot.  The ball hawk did not get many opportunities, as many offenses decided not to test the star corner.  He did, however, make an impact on the game in run support and as a leader.  Get familiar with the name ‘Maurice Smitherman’, he has a chance to do big things in Starkville.  Chris Stamps is the premier cornerback in the state of Mississippi.  Stamps has been compared to Johnthan Banks for his ability to lock down top receivers and change games in different ways.  The Warren Central star earned his ‘4th star’ from 247Sports this year after a stellar season and has the chance to compete for early playing time in the secondary.  Stamps has a bright future and it will be intriguing how Townsend and Diaz utilize him.  Jonnas Spivey did it all for his high school.  Spivey took the snaps for Bay Springs, but his elite athletic ability will give him a chance to either play out wide on offense or defend in the secondary.  Wherever Spivey ends up on the field, look for him to make plays.

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Justin Cox and Jay Hughes are leaving and Kendrick Market is recovering from an achilles injury, but Tony Hughes found himself two big time safeties.  Jamal Peters is one of the more elite players in the entire country.  Standing at 6’2″, many think Peters could transition to linebacker, however with the need in the secondary combined with his terrific ball skills, expect him to stick at safety.  Peters made 58 tackles, sacked the quarterback 6 and a half times, and took away 5 passes during his senior season.  While he will certainly have the chance to make an impact on defense, Mullen hinted that the Army All-American could find his way onto the offensive side of the ball.  The amount of athletic ability that the Bassfield star is bring to StarkVegas is insane.  Not to be outdone, 4-star Mark McLaurin will also have a chance to be the next talented Bulldog defensive back.  The Collins product did played all over the field for his team, playing quarterback, catching passes at receiver, and of course making plays in the secondary.  McLaurin may have been overlooked by some; however, expect him to be a solid player for Mullen and Diaz for years to come.

Manny Diaz’s defense was among the best in 2010, creating many problems for Heisman winning quarterback Cam Newton, and this group has the potential to do more of that.  This class is extremely athletic and can do special things before their time runs out in Starkville.  Adams, Moton, Jung, Lewis, and Peters are just a few players that Bulldog fans should be excited about in Diaz’s creative defensive schemes.