One position for Mississippi State that will certainly have a new look in 2015 is at tight end. The Bulldogs graduated both Malcolm Johnson and Brandon Hill who were mainstays there for four years.
Now MSU must rely on a relatively unproven group at a spot that also takes the place of the fullback in Dan Mullen‘s spread offense.
Rising junior Gus Walley has the most returning experience and had a bit of a breakout season after two injury plagued years in the program. Walley really doesn’t wow you with any aspect of his game. He has average size and average speed.
But what has gotten Walley to this level and the lead to be the starter next season is his exceptional work ethic. The 6-foot-4, 242-pounder runs his routes well and will not give up on a route. He continues to work until he finds a way to get open.
I noticed that quarterback Dak Prescott began going Walley’s way more and more as the spring went on. There was a chemistry that seemed to work between the two of them and even hooked up with a 6-yard touchdown in the spring game.
While Walley may never be a game-changer on go routes down the field, he is an affective and reliable option over the middle and especially on third down.
Senior Darrion Hutcherson could make a lot of money at the next level. Hutcherson’s sheer size alone at 6-foot-7, 260-pounds has NFL written all over him.
However, there is one little problem.
Hutcherson has had a difficulty holding onto the football. Drops plagued Hutcherson in practice during his first year in Starkville after transferring in from junior college and continued during the spring.
MSU worked a lot with Hutcherson in the red zone and in goal line situations in the spring and he always seemed to find a way to get his hands on the football. Maintaining possession all the way through the catch was the issue.
I’m sure tight ends coach Scott Sallach has him working on the Jugs machine a lot this summer.
If Hutcherson can improve his hands as well as his blocking, he could be in store for a monster season.
Sophomore B.J. Hammond hasn’t had much of an opportunity so far in his career. Hammond came in as a wide receiver but has grown into a tight end and is currently the same size as Walley.
Mullen had success using Johnson as a hybrid tight end to create mismatches during his career and could utilize Hammond in that same type of role.
Hammond was buried on the depth chart at tight end last year and has only one year of experience at the position. I’d imagine he will continue to improve the more reps he gets.
An x-factor for the Bulldogs could be 24-year old sophomore Rashun Dixon. Dixon returned to football last season after spending six years playing minor league baseball and needed to knock off some rust in his return to the gridiron.
Tight end was also a new position to learn after being signed by State as a four-star safety in 2008.
You have to admire his desire to comeback to football as a walk-on but time will tell if he can be a viable part of the offense.
Redshirt freshman Aaron Hamaker made a few good plays at times this spring working with the third team offense.
The Bulldogs are still awaiting the arrival of tight end signees Farrod Green and Dontea Jones.