Mississippi State’s cornerback depth was dealt a major blow as coach Dan Mullen revealed that seniors Tolando Cleveland and Cedric Jiles will both miss significant time.
Cleveland tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and will miss the entire 2016 season while Jiles suffered a broken right arm and will be out until mid-season.
Cleveland made 10 starts for the Bulldogs last year and played in 38 career games. Since the 6-foot, 190-pounder from Powder Springs, Georgia played as a true freshman, Cleveland could redshirt in 2016 and return next season.
“We’ll visit later if he’s going to use his redshirt year and come back,” Mullen said. “I think we’d lean towards that right now but we’ll see moving forward.”
Cleveland has made 82 career tackles, seven for loss, 1.5 sacks, two interceptions, 11 pass deflections, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in his three-year career.
Jiles appeared in a dozen games last year making 15 tackles. It is not his first run in with the injury bug having been limited to just three games as a true freshman with hand and foot injuries and missed all of 2014 with a hamstring injury.
Jiles has played in 26 career games and made 40 tackles. The 5-foot-10, 186-pounder from Clinton would be a likely candidate for a medical redshirt should he choose to pursue it.
“He has the opportunity to have a sixth-year to come back,” Mullen said. “We don’t visit that immediately because it’s all emotional. Our guys have worked so hard to get into these situations to go play. Especially when you’re a senior and to have that taken away. We’ll worry about getting healthy first and then decide on the future further down the road.”
In response to those injuries, both sophomore Jamal Peters and redshirt freshman Maurice Smitherman have moved from safety to corner.
“Injuries are tough on us because we’re already a very young team,” Mullen said. “It’s not the single injury, it’s the trickle down affect. It hurts with the development, especially when you have a young team.