Three Mississippi State football players with the most to prove in 2024

The time has come for these Mississippi State Bulldogs to step up and show out.
Mississippi State Spring Football Game
Mississippi State Spring Football Game / Justin Ford/GettyImages

With so many starters gone from the 2023 season, Mississippi State football is relying on lots of new faces in Jeff Lebby's first season. But they're also counting on some unheralded veterans to step up and become big time players. Here's three Bulldogs that have the most to prove in 2024...

Defensive End De'Monte Russell

A 4-star prospect in the 2019 signing class, De'Monte Russell is entering his sixth year in the program. And to this point, he hasn't consistently been an impact player. He became a starter in 2023 but didn't provide the pass rush State needed off the edge.

MSU needs him to produce more in 2024. The best chance for success on defense will be driven through the defensive front, specifically if they can create havoc and get after opposing QBs to help out the secondary. Russell is the veteran in the room, and he'll need to play like it.

Linebacker John Lewis

John Lewis is another Bulldog that had a great recruiting profile but hasn't yet been an alpha on the team. And that's not necessarily the fault of the former 4-star. He spent the first two years playing behind a loaded LB room, and while he got the chance to start in 2023, he was forced to play out of position on the edge.

But with Bookie Watson and Jett Johnson gone, he's now sliding back to inside LB. That move should be beneficial, but ultimately, it's do or die time. This is Lewis' senior year, meaning it's his final chance to prove himself as a premier talent. And MSU needs him to do so with what was lost at the position.

Offensive Tackle Albert Reese IV

Albert Reese is a player that many have been anxiously waiting to see become a star. After all, there aren't many 6-7, 320 lb humans out there. The Canadian was always going to be a bit of a developmental prospect, but now entering his fourth year in the program, the redshirt junior needs to have a breakthrough.

State is reworking its OL with four transfers entering the program, all of whom have a real chance to start. Reese is one of the few returnees that's expected to be a key contributor along the line, and for the Bulldog offense to click in year one, they've got to be strong there. That means Reese becoming a SEC-caliber lineman.