Mississippi State must replace one of the key positions on any team at left tackle. Blaine Clausell graduated after being the Bulldogs bookend for the better part of four years leaving a vacancy of protecting Dak Prescott‘s blindside.
Rising junior Justin Senior has started one game at left tackle in his career but worked this spring as the starting right tackle. Senior started all 13 games at right tackle last season and seems to be better suited for that side of the line. The Canadian is still relatively new to football but has come a long way during his three-plus years in Starkville.
Senior is athletic for a 6-foot-5, 295-pound guy and will be one of only two starters returing for MSU on the offensive line this fall.
The role of replacing Clausell seems to be redshirt senior Rufus Warren‘s job to lose. Warren served as a reserve right tackle last year but held his on on the opposite side of the line this spring. I remember several devastating blocks the big fella laid on screens during the spring.
Warren spent three years as a tight end for the Bulldogs but was converted into a tackle last year. At 6-foot-7, 299-pounds, Warren certainly has the frame to play left tackle. Even with his limited experience, I believe he might even be an upgrade there.
Warren’s back-up remains a mystery. Junior Cole Carter and redshirt freshman Elgton Jenkins both battled for the spot during the spring.
Carter has 22 games of experience in his favor along with his height at 6-foot-6. He too was once a tight end at the high school level and has spent his time in Starkville not only adding size (up to 299 now) and strength.
But if Carter isn’t careful, he’ll be passed by. Jenkins spent several days this spring working with the second team. Jenkins is 6-foot-4, 304-pounds and is the stronger of the two options. He did have the arrest back in the spring which could play a factor in where he begins the year on the depth chart.
At right tackle, Senior was in a battle with sixth-year senior Damien Robinson for the starting job. Robinson was slated to be the starter last year but tore his ACL in training camp and missed the entire year. He was granted a sixth-year of eligibility by the NCAA.
Personally, I’d like to see Robinson get his chance. The former blue-chip high school recruit has been a back-up his entire career. I want to see what he can do in a starting role.
Robinson certainly has the size at 6-foot-8, 330-pounds to be a mauler out there on the edge. He has a long reach but his footwork has always been an issue. He looked to be a little lighter out there this spring which improved his quickness and should aid him when fall camp starts.
Many felt that junior college transfer Martinas Rankin would walk right into a starting spot. That of course did not happen as the former No. 1 JUCO tackle learned State’s offensive system as a mid-year transfer this spring.
Rankin worked with the second and third teams most of the spring but will get his chance at the starting role as well. He’s got the talent to play right away and once he gets the playbook down will challenge both Senior and Robinson at right tackle.
Ronald Cochran is now up to 308-pounds along his 6-foot-4 frame following a redshirt season. Cochran was a late addition to the Bulldogs 2014 class and has limited football experience. He is another one of John Hevesy‘s projects but has had a pretty solid success rate.