Replacing Tony Hughes


"Tony Hughes has left Mississippi State to become the new head football coach at Jackson State. That leaves a hole at safeties coach and recruiting coordinator."

So where does Mississippi State look?

Hughes was the safeties coach. Not the linebackers coach or the defensive line coach, but the safeties coach. Most schools have one coach for the entire secondary, but State had Hughes at safeties and Deshea Townsend with cornerbacks.

The good news is the future at the safety position looks bright. Not only will Kivon Coman return for the 2016 season, but the there are a trio of studs waiting in the wings: Mark McLaurin, Brandon Bryant and Jamal Peters. All three of those freshman gained valuable experience (especially Bryant) and combined for 89 tackles, seven pass break-ups, two INTs and 3.5 sacks.

You’d have to assume that after three years on the coaching staff, Townsend would be ready for an expanded role: coaching the entire secondary. If so, that could really open things up for Mullen to focus on hiring a proven recruiter.

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It’s no secret that Tony Hughes was the key component in many of MSU’s recruiting successes since Mullen arrived. While he knows practically everyone in Mississippi high school football, he’s also been doing it under Mullen for seven years. Surely Dan and his staff have cultivated those relationships for themselves and not solely relying on Coach Hughes.

Nevertheless, the need for a strong recruiter is there. It’s also no secret that MSU’s staff struggles to bring in elite talent. Whether it’s a lack of focus on college-ready players or just an inability to land them, Mullen hasn’t been able to do much of it during his time.

The only time Mullen had a top-level recruiter on staff was during the six months Tim Brewster was in Starkville. During that short time frame he was able to help out tremendously, and the biggest prospect he landed was Fred Ross. Brewster left shortly after signing day but Ross has been excelling with the Bulldogs to the tune of a 1st team all-SEC selection by the coaches this year. With just 67 yards in the bowl game he’ll become the first MSU receiver to 1,000 yards since Mardye McDole in 1978.

Not having a specific position coach to fill should really open things up. Whoever is hired could coach Safeties or Linebackers by title, but the most important thing is to bring in a coach who can close on the recruiting trail.