Sep 7, 2013; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive lineman AJ Jefferson (47) celebrates with defensive lineman Ryan Brown (48) after a play against the Alcorn State Braves at Davis Wade Stadium. The Bulldogs defeated the Braves 51-7. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
For several weeks now, I’ve read so many articles that explain why MSU will finish 6th or 7th in the SEC Western division.
I read these same articles last preseason. I’ve read a lot of “MSU just doesn’t have enough to compete in 2014”, and “Mullen has not recruited well enough to win big in Starkville.” Well, we all know how that ended, don’t we?
As I scan over the 2015 preseason articles, it amazes me how they always begin with “this MSU team lost too many starters to repeat the 2014 season” and end with “the MSU staff just has not recruited well enough to lose that much talent and compete again in 2015”
For one, that’s the media being extremely lazy. Last year it was “Dan Mullen could not win big because he hadn’t recruited well enough,” and now it’s “he can’t win because the Bulldogs lost too much talent”.
Well, according to recruiting gurus and the star ranking system, the players replacing last years starters in 2015 are far more talented, aren’t they?
Help me out here. It can’t be both ways, so which is it? Something just isn’t adding up.
Secondly, this MSU team returns the undisputed best quarterback in the SEC, and possibly in the entire nation. That itself should count for something, right?
Nope, not with today’s media, which is either lazy or blind. You make the call.
Last but not least, when you actually take the time and do a little research, the Bulldogs didn’t lose as many starters as it might seem. At first glance, most don’t realize that. So, I appeal to the media with this: “Dig a little deeper, guys, it’s not that hard.”
Will we win the SEC? Probably not. In my opinion, however, our chances are greater this year than they were last year. Dan Mullen has silently built a program that will have sustained success. I’m going to go ahead and predict that the world will realize exactly that fact in 2015.
And because nine out of ten media members are lazy, I’ve decided to dig a little deeper for you. You can thank me later. Actually, just wait until the 2015 season has come to a close. I’ll accept your, “thank you” then.
Blaine Clausell: 2*
Martinas Rankin 4* or
Rufus Warren 3*
Losing a 4 year starter at left tackle normally isn’t the best thing in the world to have happen, but Rankin comes in as a highly rated juco prospect, and Warren had a very solid spring. Rankin was not able to secure the left tackle position during the spring.
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Trust me, it’s not because he’s a bust. Rufus isn’t going to go away that easily. The kid has the size and athleticism to play in the NFL. He gained much needed experience last season after moving over from tight end. Left tackle will be a strength in 2015.
Ben Beckwith 0* (walk-on).
Devon Desper 3*
Ben may not have even started a game last year if Jamal Clayborn had not been injured and hadn’t had a few personal issues on top of that. Don’t misunderstand me. Ben did a fabulous job, but Desper has much more upside and even started against Texas A&M last year. Desper graded out very well in that game. He’s no newcomer to SEC football.
Dillon Day 2*
Jamal Clayborne 3*
Jamal has started before so this will not be anything new to him. This guy has tremendous upside. Jamal will be a stud in 2015, if not an all-SEC performer. Day was a terrific player for the Bulldogs and a tough son-of-a-gun, but his talent level doesn’t compare to that of Jamal Clayborn. I’m very high on this young man.
Robert Johnson 3*
Fred Brown 3* or
Joe Morrow 4* or
Donald Gray 4*
This position is loaded. Actually every wide receiver position is loaded in 2015. Did anyone ever think that they would see the day where the rebels and Bulldogs had the top two wide receiver units in the SEC? I know I didn’t, but that could very well be the case in 2015. Fortunately we have the best quarterback in the SEC throwing it to ours.
Any three of these guys could start here next year. Gray has the most upside, but he’s the least experienced one. Morrow will be the starter much like Robert was in 2015 (only on the depth chart). Morrow came up big the last few games of the year, but Gray and Brown are the future here, and that future is bright.
Dec 31, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs wide receiver Joe Morrow (16) and wide receiver Fred Ross (8) and offensive lineman Justin Senior (58) and wide receiver De
Jameon Lewis 2*
Fred Ross 4*
This is a massive upgrade. Again, unless you have done your homework, then you wouldn’t know this. Ross is the reason Jameon never gained his normal playing time after he healed last year. Fred Ross is a stud. Do not be surprised if he’s an All-SEC performer and our best receiver in 2015. I know that’s a bold statement with a guy like D’Runnya Wilson on your team, but it could pan-out to be true.
Malcolm Johnson 2*
Gus Walley 3* or
Dorian Hutchison 3* or
Shelby Christy 3* or
BJ Hammond 3*
There are tons of options here, but Malcolm was very good. Walley is a better pass catcher than Malcolm, but Malcolm was a good football player with a high IQ. This is the toughest loss on offense by a wide margin. We “might” lose a little here, but then again we might not.
Josh Robinson 3*
Ashton Shumpert 4* or
Aeris Williams 4* or
Dontavian Lee 3*
This unit will be a strength in 2015. There is a reason J-Rob lost carries at the end of last year. That reason is Ashton Shumpert. He may not even be the starter by mid season. There is tons of talent at running back, and if you’re a die-hard MSU fan, you know that you should never worry about this position. We are always good here. I don’t expect that to change in 2015.
Jay Hughes 3*
Jamal Peters 4* or
Brandon Bryant 3*
Safety was a nightmare for the Bulldogs last year. Injuries, inexperience, and suspensions took its toll by year’s end. I fully expect that to change in 2015. Kivon Coleman locked down one safety position in the spring. His inexperience showed at times last year and at other times he looked very good. I fully expect him to be a different player this year.
At the other safety spot, either Peters or Bryant have superstar potential. Both will be freshmen in 2015, but there’s no denying their gift from God. Don’t be surprised if these two guys aren’t both starting at the safety position by mid season. Safety is a position that will be much improved next year.
Bernardrick Mckinney 2*
Richie Brown 3* or
Gerri Green 4*
Richie will start and will be a solid linebacker for the Bulldogs before he leaves school, but Gerri Green is the future. This young man is a monster. He has B-Macs size and freak athleticism and he is a sideline to sideline guy. Barring injury, I don’t expect Gerri to stick around for a Senior season. He is that talented. At times we will see both of these guys on the field at the same time. Linebacker, like running back, should never be a concern for any MSU fan.
Matt Wells 4*
Zack Jackson 3*
JT Gray 3*
Trevor Jung 4*
“Cheetah” will be the toughest player to replace on the defense. I expect Zack to be the starter as far as the depth chart goes because he’s a senior, but Gray & Jung are the two who will play the most. They are highly athletic kids with great speed. I’m afraid to say which one will end the year as a starter, but I will say this position is easily three deep.
Preston Smith 2*
AJ Jefferson 4*
Preston will not be easy to replace, but who outside of the MSU fan base even knew who this guy was last preseason?
His replacement? AJ Jefferson and please remember this name. Much like Preston, he is a very good candidate for a breakout year as a Junior. His motor is non stop and AJ makes up for his size with athleticism. Again, remember the name AJ Jefferson, because I have a good feeling that rival coaches already know the name after the spring that he had.
Kaleb Eulls 4*
Chris Jones 5*
Much like Robert Johnson & several other “starters” on last years depth chart, Kaleb was just that. A depth chart starter. Kaleb did play a whole lot, but there’s no denying that Chris Jones is a major upgrade here. That’s not a shot at Kaleb, because Chris Jones would be an upgrade to almost every other defensive tackle in the SEC. He’s had a solid first two years in Starkville, but in 2015 he puts himself in talks of being a top five or top ten pick. The talent level and tools this young man possess are rivaled by no other defensive tackle in the country. In 2015 you will see just that.
PJ Jones 4*
Nick James 4* or
Nelson Adams 3* or
Corey Thomas 3*
If spring is any indication of Nick James, then it looks like the switch has flipped. If that carries over, then this is a massive upgrade as well. PJ, like Kaleb had a very solid career at MSU. They provided a lot of experience last year and that was big, but these guys aren’t nearly as talented as their predecessors.
With that said, Nick isn’t a lock to be a starter. Both Nelson Adams and Corey Thomas will have a say in that. Nelson has a non stop motor and is a very difficult match-up whether he’s on the inside or outside. I love to watch him play football.
Corey on the other hand is a Chris Jones clone as far as build and skills. You put the same number on those two and put them on the field at the same time and you probably couldn’t figure out which is which. Am I saying Corey Thomas will be as good as Chris Jones before he leaves Starkville? No. What I am saying is that he has a opportunity to be that good. It will be up to him and what he’s willing to put into it. This guy’s size/speed/athleticism combination is off the charts.
Okay media, I’ve done the research for you. Now it’s your turn to take it and run. There’s a lot of talent returning in Starkville. In fact I would argue that the 2015 bulldog team is more talented than the 2014 bulldog team. I think I would be correct.
Don’t keep looking at last years depth chart and assume we cannot compete because of the starters we lost. It is quite simply misleading. Don’t be foolish and ignorant. Do your homework and you will know that the number one quarterback in the nation isn’t lacking talent behind him. In fact, he’s the leader of a more talented team. The ball is in your court. Let’s see if you take advantage of it or will you again underestimate MSU, like it is the MSU of the past?
Wake up – not only to the reality of talent on this bulldog team, but to the ability of Dan Mullen and his staff as well or you’ll be looking like foolish, AGAIN!