Five newcomers to know on Mississippi State football's defense

Mississippi State football is going to ask a lot from these new defenders in 2024.
Mississippi State Spring Football Game
Mississippi State Spring Football Game / Justin Ford/GettyImages

Mississippi State football has a reputation for playing hard-nosed defense, but new defensive coordinator Coleman Hutzler will have to work hard to keep that going in 2024. His unit consists of largely unproven veterans and newcomers, and several newcomers could be key this fall.

Here are five new faces on the Bulldog defense to know...

Defensive Lineman Kedrick Bingley-Jones

State has some big holes to fill along the defensive line, and North Carolina transfer Kedrick Bingley-Jones comes in to help there. A 4-star prospect out of high school, Bingley-Jones battled injuries during his time at UNC. But the feeling from State's defensive staff is that he's finally starting to reach his potential, playing well during the spring. He'll be one of the top options at interior defensive line.

Linebacker Stone Blanton

Stone Blanton was always supposed to be a Bulldog. The Jackson-native was committed to MSU baseball before ultimately signing with South Carolina for football. Now he's back home, looking to help fill the massive shoes of Bookie Watson and Jett Johnson. Blanton played well for the Gamecocks and is the only power conference starter MSU landed through the portal, immediately making him one of the biggest additions to the defense.

Linebacker Branden Jennings

JUCO transfer Branden Jennings didn't get much buzz entering the spring, but after his spring game performance, he's got our attention. The former Hinds CC LB made a big impact rushing off the edge in that game, and for a State team hoping to find more of a pass rush, Jennings could end up playing a major role for the defense.

Cornerback Montre Miller

State's secondary struggled in 2023, and their top corners from that group are gone. Landing an impact CB in the portal was imperative, and they got one late in the cycle in West Virginia transfer Montre Miller. Miller was a star at Kent State before transferring to WVU. An injury in the season-opener sidelined him for practically all of 2023, but he's back now and immediately becomes State's #1 CB.

Nickel/Safety Brylan Lanier

Sticking with the secondary, East Mississippi CC transfer safety Brylan Lanier could be someone MSU's defensive staff leans on in 2024. Lanier began his college career at Alabama, giving him some familiarity with State's new defensive scheme. He can play multiple spots and is regarded as having one of the better football IQs on the team. There's a good chance he becomes a leader in the secondary.