Mississippi State Football has major questions in the Secondary

With spring practices coming to a close, Mississippi State football still has big questions in the secondary.
Nov 23, 2023; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive back Corey
Nov 23, 2023; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive back Corey / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State football ends spring practices on Saturday with the 2024 Maroon and White Spring Game, so today, we close out our spring positional previews. In our last installment, we broke down the Bulldog linebackers. In our final preview, we're taking a look at the MSU secondary.

The State secondary is a major question mark on the roster in the spring. This is a unit that struggled in 2023, doesn't have much experience back, and didn't see many significant additions. Truthfully, we have very little idea who the leading guys in the room are.

But, that means it's a group to pay close attention to in the spring game.

Mississippi State's safeties could still be solid.

Between cornerback and safety, there's no doubt that safety has less questions. There's still some continuity there and some talented pieces to work with. Corey Ellington chose to return for the Bulldogs after starting last season. It was crucial to get him back if for no other reason than having a veteran presence with plenty of game experience in the room.

Jordan Morant and Chris Keys Jr. offer further experience. Former Kentucky-transfer Kobi Albert was a player the previous staff was very excited about going into 2023 before he suffered an injury that sidelined him for the entire year. Albert is still rehabbing through this spring, but from a potential standpoint, he seems to be one of the more talented pieces at safety.

The guy fans are most eager to see is Isaac Smith. Smith was the crown jewel of the 2023 signing class, but injuries stunted his development leading into his freshman season. He played the entire season for State, but he probably wasn't quite ready. Now with a normal offseason under his belt, do we see his talent shine through?

Who on Earth with start for State at corner?

I've alluded to this already, but cornerback is where MSU faces the most questions, probably out of the entire roster. We've grown used to State having at least one veteran corner returning who had shown high-level play previously. That's just not the case this year.

Brice Pollock saw significant playing and some starts over the back half of his true freshman season, but he didn't do anything to feel confident in him being a starter in 2024. Former 4-star and Miami-transfer Khamauri Rogers was anticipated to make an impact last season, but he didn't play.

Traveon Wright transfers in after redshirting at Memphis. Reports are that he's looked solid so far in practice. Those three seem to be the most likely starters at this point, but it's almost by default. If not them, perhaps 6'4" redshirt freshman Kelley Jones ends up stepping in. If he can cover on the outside with that size, he'd be quite the matchup problem.

Hunter Washington has now been around the program multiple years, playing multiple positions. He's working at nickelback in the spring. He's at least made some good plays for State in his career. JUCO-transfer and former Alabama DB Brylan Lanier is also battling at nickel.

Expect State to hit the portal for DBs in the spring window.

I feel very confident in saying Mississippi State will be heavily pursuing defensive back transfers from the portal this spring. There just aren't enough proven, much less experienced, options to feel good about running this group out there in the fall.

If you told me State was starting two corners this fall that weren't currently on the roster, I wouldn't be surprised at all. Safety should be ok, but even there you aren't totally settled.

Still, the secondary has a chance to ease some concerns on Saturday in the spring game. They're going head to head with a talented State WR room and an offense that will challenge them vertically and in space. If they can hold there own, that would be a good sign for the potential of the defense.