Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen unveiled his 2015 signing class on Wednesday. The Bulldogs brought in 28 players and their class is ranked 18th by 247Sports.com.
“Today has been a great day for us. Every signing day has been a great day for us. We get to welcome a bunch of new guys into our family. I think that our coaches did a fabulous job out there on the road. Some of these guys have been recruiting for a couple of years now, and it’s good to finally have that official closure of getting the recruits here. The only sad part is that we have to wait until June until a lot of these guys enroll in school. Our coaches and players did a great job telling these guys what our program is all about. The program has been established. A lot of people, most of the top players in the state realize how we develop young men, not just on the field but off the field, too. A lot of these young men and their families see what we do and that’s the proof. You’re happy to show them. Before, we used to talk about it a lot, but they look at the development of these young guys, how guys are graduating within our program, how guys are developing on the field and the fact that most of this season we were in contention for a spot in the national playoffs.”
“A lot of young people now, especially the top players in Mississippi decided to come here and play for us. They can come here and play for their in-state school, get a great education, be developed and maximized to become the best that they can be on and off the field, and that they will have the opportunity to compete for championships makes us such a great place for them. You saw that today.”
“When you look at this class, it’s a great, balanced class. A lot of guys graduate this year. We had a lot of seniors this year and had a lot of guys who are getting the chance to move on and go play in the National Football League. Getting some guys in mid-semester really helped us. That’s such a huge advantage, especially getting three high school guys enrolled mid-semester, two from Mississippi. That’s been something through the years that’s been harder to do. I know a lot school districts were against that, but hopefully they see the advantage it is for their young men and how it can help their schools out. Having those guys here early is such a huge advantage. They’re here. They’re getting a jumpstart on their college degree. Hopefully, they’ll have the opportunity to get Master’s degrees. It helps with training, too. Some morning they’re in the weight room, they’re thinking ‘Man, I could still be in homeroom right now instead of on a leg press with Coach (Rick) Court.’ That’s huge for us.”
“One of the things that’s always important to us is recruiting the state of Mississippi. When you look at this year’s recruiting class and see 15 guys from the state of Mississippi, it’s so huge. According to some of the rankings, eight of the top 10 players from Mississippi are coming here to play for us. That is so, so important for us. Those guys have so much pride in playing for Mississippi State and also playing for the state of Mississippi. When you have that pride that you’re representing everyone in the state, it is special.
“We wanted to mix offensive and defensive guys. We’ve got a little bit of everything in this recruiting class. I think all of the rankings have us as one of the top classes in the country. I think that’s fantastic. We’ll wait a couple of years to judge if that’s true or not. Again, I think you might look at John Banks, Benardrick McKinney, Taveze Calhoun, or Dak Prescott and you might rerate some of those guys now. We want to see how these guys develop before we judge this as the greatest recruiting class ever. But I will say this, I know that I’m very happy with the guys coming in. Our coaches are very happy with the class that we put together. These young men aren’t just great football players, but they’re great young men, too. Character, to me, is such an important part of our recruiting. And to have these young men come join our family, they understand that they’re coming to a program that is going to help develop them. We will demand very high expectations of them on the field, in the classroom and in the community. These young men embrace that. They embrace the hard work, the sacrifice, and the commitment that it’s going to take to become successful. Families out there look at our family-atmosphere here and they want their sons to be a part of that. We’re fired up and excited. Can’t wait for June 6 when they get to enroll in school.”
On Leo Lewis:
“I’ve always had great conversations with Leo. The one great thing, even through all of this, was that he was always really humble. I would always ask, but it was hard for me to find anyone who had a bad thing to say about him. He came out to our camps and worked his tail off while he was out there. Coaches would say, ‘He’s hyped up, but I’ll tell you what: he gives great effort all the time’ and that’s the stuff that I look for. Obviously he’s got great size, great athleticism, and excellent instincts. He’s an explosive football player, but the thing that’s the most exciting about him is that he has a tremendous work ethic. Everything he’s told me, he’s followed through with, even through the whole recruiting process. When he said something was going to happen, it’s happened. To me, the most exciting aspect of that is that he’s going to improve a lot. He’s going to get a lot better. He’s already got great size, great athleticism, great instincts and explosiveness, but because of his work ethic and the attitude that he has, you know that he’s a guy whose ceiling is much higher than where he is right now today. I expect him to have a tremendous career here with us.”
On Jamal Peters:
“Obviously, he’s a special talent back there in the secondary, but also a huge need for us at that position with guys graduating and Kendrick Market coming off a severe injury. If he showed up on campus today, without stepping on the field, he might be on the two-deep rotation right now. He has a chance to make an immediate impact. He has an opportunity to touch the ball on the other side of the ball for us, too, because when I watched him play in high school, he was pretty electric. We might have to create some things to let him play on the other side of the ball as well.”
On the diversity of his defensive linemen signees:
“You’re always looking at what’s going to be out there. You also have to look at the development of where those guys are going to be. You take Fletcher Adams. He’s a really explosive player and multi-sport athlete in high school. How big is he going to get? I don’t know. His brother’s pretty big and athletic for us. He could start at end or play inside. He has that flexibility. Kendell Jones is the same way. He’s a big, long athletic guy. Anfernee Mullins is a long, athletic guys which is something that I really like. It’s hard to judge sometimes. These guys are 17 or 18 years old right now. Chris Jones on signing day was 250 pounds. His goal weight now is to be under 310. You don’t know how they’re going to grow and develop, but we’re really excited. To me, I love the athleticism that a lot of these guys are bringing to the table to us. T.D. (Moton) has a lot of size. Kendell and Anfernee have length. Fletcher is really explosive. Keith Joseph is an explosive guy off the edge. So we have a mix of guys. I think that’s pretty good for us.”
On Dontea Jones:
“He brings size. I every time I see him, he’s bigger. He was 6-foot-4 and a half, 260 pounds on his visit. He’s a couple of biscuits away from playing left tackle, probably. We love creating mismatches. Dontea is a guy with great ball skills, but with his size, he’s tough to match up on. Look at how we utilize a guy like De’Runnya Wilson who has the ball skills and the length. He’s hard to guard. So one of those things when you’re looking at wide receivers is where are they creating mismatches. Is it the quickness and the speed or is the size? Where are we going to create mismatch problems for defenses? He’s a guy that does bring a tremendous mismatch. He’s just a big man. He gets on the scale and he’s big. It’s not fat. It’s not anything. He’s just a big guy. So he’ll create some mismatches for people.
On Nick Tiano:
“He’s a big athletic guy. We list him at 6’5”, 230 pounds. You watch him and think ‘He’s a good athlete, maybe not a special, dynamic player, but all of a sudden, you start watching him make these runs, like Dak Prescott did. Dak was a guy where you would say, ‘Okay, well he makes some okay runs’ but the more you study them, they end up being good runs, and then really, really good runs. He came down and we spent time with him in camp to see him throw the ball. He has a very naturally strong arm. The ball jumps out of his hand. He’s very intelligent with great leadership skill. These are all things we’re looking for at the quarterback position. He comes in with a lot of the things that we look for. He can come in and contribute. If you lined up all of my quarterbacks, they would be different shapes and sizes, but the most important intangible that they have is that they’re winners. That’s the biggest thing that Nick probably brings to the table. He’s a winner.”