There are many reasons to believe Mississippi State will equal or exceed last season's success – 31 reasons, in fact. Here's Reason No. 18.
Mississippi State is not a destination school for four- and five-star prospects, and probably never will be. Oh, Dan Mullen gets his share of big-time recruits, but he doesn't think he needs a bunch of those type of players to win; besides, he only believes in the ratings determined by himself and his coaching staff.
Mullen will dig around and find that two- or three-star guy who's been overlooked by Alabama and Florida. And he'll find the right role for him in the offense and turn that player into an SEC-caliber guy.
Just two years in and the examples are already numerous: tailback Vick Ballard, cornerback Johnthan Banks, tight end Malcolm Johnson (he's gonna be good, trust me), tailback LaDarius Perkins and safety Nickoe Whitley. Then there are the players Mullen inherited who have blossomed under his tutelage, most notably quarterback Chris Relf and receiver Arceto Clark.
There are others waiting in the wings, or who we've gotten glimpses of, who should play huge roles soon.
We shouldn't give Mullen and the coaches all the credit, of course. These are some very talented guys, many of whom were misjudged by other coaches and/or evaluators and are seeing their potential get maxed out under a strong coaching staff. And that's one of Mullen's recurring themes: Player development.
"We're getting players that we know we can develop to become the stars, not just in February coming out of high school," he said on signing day in February. So far, that's how it's working out.