There are many reasons to believe Mississippi State will equal or exceed last season's success – 31 reasons, in fact. Here's Reason No. 12.
Mississippi State's returning linebackers are well aware that they must somehow replace last year's starters, particularly NFL Draft picks Chris White and K.J. Wright.
"I probably say it more than anybody," linebackers coach Geoff Collins said, "but just constantly reinforcing that people might not be expecting as much out of that group, (gives them) a little chip on their shoulder, and I think they've got that. They want to be great, and they want to help us accomplish great things."
Collins, in his first year at MSU after turning around FIU's defense, isn't too worried about a lack of star power. His approach focuses more on being able to plug several guys into several spots. If he can do that, and if he can teach everyone to take ownership of their responsibilities and be in the right positions, Collins doesn't foresee a drop-off this fall.
Right now, the first team consists of Brandon Wilson in the middle, with Chris Hughes and Cam Lawrence on the outside. Clemson transfer Brandon Maye will push Wilson for the starting job, but a lot of guys will play regardless, as many as eight if Collins has his way.
Other key contributors could include Ferlando Bohanna, Christian Holmes, Jamie Jones, and Deontae Skinner.
Whether the players like to hear it or not, it'll be tough to replace dynamic guys like White and Wright. But there is strength in numbers.