Mississippi State Football: New Look Offensive Line Coming Together in Spring

Mississippi State football went heavy in the portal to rebuild their offensive line. How might those pieces come together?
Sep 10, 2022; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs offensive lineman Albert Reese IV
Sep 10, 2022; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs offensive lineman Albert Reese IV / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 Maroon and White Spring Game takes place this weekend for Mississippi State football. It'll be the first chance for Bulldog fans to get a glimpse at what the 2024 team will look like under first-year head coach Jeff Lebby.

We're previewing the Bulldogs by looking at each position group on the team during spring practices. In our last installment, we broke down the tight end room. Today, we close out the offense by looking at the big uglies up front, the offensive line.

State's offensive line had a rough go of things in 2023. It was a fairly veteran unit, but the group had to undergo a massive transition away from the Air Raid and into a pro-style system. You could argue the shift in offensive philosphy was more impactful on the line than any other position.

That change didn't go over well, and now Jeff Lebby and new OL coach Cody Kennedy are working to make the OL a strength in Starkville once again. They've got plenty of new concepts to implement and several new faces to piece together, but Lebby's system is far more friendly to lineman than the previous offense.

Let's look at the spring OL room...

Mississippi State hit the portal hard for lineman.

State struggled up front in 2023 and then several starters from the group. In the modern era of college football, there's a pretty straightforward answer for addressing both of those issues: raid the portal. That's exactly what State did, bringing in four transfer offensive lineman, and there's a good chance all four of those guys end up starting in 2024.

Ethan Miner comes in from North Texas, where he played in an offense that has some similarities to what State will be doing under Lebby. He was the top-rated center prospect in the portal and reunites with his UNT OL Coach Jon Cooper, who's now coaching TEs at State. State added another Lonestar State lineman with guard Jacoby Jackson from Texas Tech. He too was in a wide-open spread system previously, starting several games effectively for the Red Raiders.

Makylan Pounders is a familiar name to State fans. He was a one-time MSU commit that unfortunately got caught in the middle of dubious Egg Bowl recruiting drama by the rivals only to end up at Memphis. Pounders developed into a fantastic tackle with the Tigers, and now finally, his talents are in Starkville where he'll almost certainly be the Bulldogs' left tackle.

Finally, Marlon Martinez joins the OL room after spending the last few years as a swing lineman for LSU. He saw several stars along the interior OL for the Bayou Bengals and will likely compete for the guard spot opposite of Jacoby Jackson.

Solid veterans still remain for the Bulldogs.

Though the attention is on the portal, State still has good options returning who can compete for starting roles. Albert Reese IV is entering his fourth season in Starkville. The 6'7", 320-pounder out of Canada has seen plenty of reps over the past two seasons and should be ready to take on a starting role, most-likely at right tackle.

Leon Bell played in the first four games of the 2023 season as a JUCO-transfer before sitting out the rest of the year to redshirt. Bell played well in the opportunities he got and should factor into the main rotation. Canon Boone is another lineman that's now been around the program for multiple years after being a promising recruit out of high school who should also challenge for a bigger role in 2024.

If the pieces come together, State should field a good offensive line.

Mississippi State had to reload and rework the OL for 2024, and it seems Jeff Lebby and Cody Kennedy did a good job of that. Each portal addition was a quality player with good transfer options available. And while there isn't a ton of experience returning on the roster, there are still promising pieces back.

To me, it's just a matter of making these pieces come together. Obviously you've got several new faces working together for the first time while also learning a new system. There might be some speed bumps early on as they settle in. But overall, the outlook seems positive for the Bulldog OL.