Mississippi State Football loses commitment from transfer tailback

Mississippi State football had briefly addressed their need at running back through the portal. That is no longer the case.
Dec 16, 2023; Orlando, FL, USA;  Miami (OH) Redhawks running back Rashad Amos (0) runs with the ball
Dec 16, 2023; Orlando, FL, USA; Miami (OH) Redhawks running back Rashad Amos (0) runs with the ball / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Entering the spring, one of the biggest holes on the Mississippi State football roster was running back. With leading rusher Jo'Quavious Marks transferring to USC and presumed future starter Seth Davis likely to miss the majority of the 2024 season with injury, MSU found itself without a clear option in the backfield.

The trio of Jeffery Pittman, Keyvone Lee, and JUCO-transfer Johnnie Daniels looks solid, but none of them have yet proven they're capable of being a lead back in the SEC. Naturally, Jeff Lebby turned to the transfer portal to find a bell cow in the backfield.

He landed on former Miami (OH) rusher Rashad Amos, who committed to the Bulldogs back on April 13. Amos ran for over 1000 yards for the RedHawks in 2023 with 13 TDs. He seemed like the exact type of player State needed to add at tailback.

But apparently Amos wasn't fully locked-in on heading to Starkville.

Rashad Amos flips commitment to Colorado

Earlier this week, news broke that Rashad Amos would be visiting Colorado. Coach Prime is attempting to flip his roster yet again, and running back is a position of need. Shortly after his visit to Boulder, Amos announced his decommitment from Mississippi State, and on Friday, he officially committed to the Buffaloes.

Where do the Bulldogs turn now?

With Amos no longer Starkville-bound, Mississippi State has to dip back into the transfer pot for a running back. Technically, they were already doing that. While Amos was committed, State was pursuing Oregon State-transfer Damien Martinez, the top uncommitted back in the portal.

Martinez visited MSU last weekend, and by all accounts, it went well. But despite a successful visit, the widespread belief is that Martinez will soon announce his commitment to the Miami Hurricanes. The Canes have a major need at RB, look poised to have a good season and 2024, and most importantly, have plenty of NIL cash to throw around.

Nothing is official, but it seems unlikely Martinez becomes a Bulldog. Did State's pursuit of Martinez push away Amos? That we don't know. Even if so, you can't blame the coaching staff for trying to continue adding the best players possible, but now it seems like State is going to strikeout on its top two options.

So where to now? There aren't a lot of options. Ironically, the two biggest names available (not counting Martinez and Peny Boone, who's likely Kentucky-bound) are former Colorado backs Dylan Edwards and Alton McCaskill.

Edwards was a surprise portal-entrant after leading the Buffs' backfield a year ago. He's a smaller, scat-back type, which admittedly, probably isn't want State is looking for. But it doesn't seem the Bulldogs are on his radar anyways.

McCaskill is more of a traditional rusher who began his career at Houston. In 2022, he rushed for 961 yards and 16 TDs. When he transferred to Boulder last year, many believed he'd be the featured RB. He instead had a minimal role and is now on the move again. He's set to take a visit to UCLA, but his other options, if any, are unclear.

No other RBs currently in the portal have proven collegiate production or are known to be high-level talents. Unless a more established rusher enters the portal, whoever State ends up landing at tailback is likely to be a lesser-known name.

What if State can't land a starting-quality RB in the portal?

If the Bulldogs fail to bring in a starting tailback through the portal, it's still possible for the offense to be fine in 2024. While none of Pittman, Lee, or Daniels have been SEC lead-backs to this point, that trio looked solid in the spring game. I named Pittman as one of the five most impressive Bulldogs in the spring game.

State has a good group up front along the OL to push back defenses, and the stress they're likely to put on defenses with the vertical passing game, they should get plenty of favorable looks to run the ball. I have no doubt they'll put up good surface rushing numbers.

The question is whether or not any of that trio can win consistently in short-yardage situations and gash defenses enough when they're looking to prevent the deep passing game that those defenses feel they have to devote more bodies to stopping the run, which in turn creates better passing opportunities.

It's the difference between having a run game that functions because of spacing and one that you can genuinely lean on. Hopefully, a lead back emerges, whether it be through the portal or on the current roster, that makes Mississippi State's rushing attack a truly formidable one.