Bulldogs expect solid signing class

Nick Fitzgerald was able to work with Mississippi State during Liberty Bowl practice. (File photo)

Nick Fitzgerald was able to work with Mississippi State during Liberty Bowl practice. (File photo)

By Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Dust off the fax machine, because it’s time for national signing day.

Mississippi State gets set this morning for its sixth signing day under head coach Dan Mullen. Although the Bulldogs’ class is not likely to turn heads on the national level, Mullen and his staff have quietly put together another solid signing class filled with in-state commitments.

Of the 127 players MSU has signed since Mullen’s arrival in 2009, 81 have hailed from programs within the Magnolia State. As of Tuesday evening, 13 of the Bulldogs’ 19 commitments for the 2014 class were also from Mississippi schools.

Copiah-Lincoln offensive lineman Jocquell Johnson is also part of State’s signing class but enrolled at the Starkville campus in January.

Richmond Hill, Ga., quarterback Nick Fitzgerald also enrolled early and even practiced with the Bulldogs in preparation for the Liberty Bowl. Fitzgerald will join fellow Peach State native Elijah Staley as Mississippi State’s signal-callers in this class. Staley is a 6-foot-7 lefty who also intends to play basketball for Rick Ray.

Headlining the class is four-star cornerback Tee Shepard of Holmes Community College. The 6-foot-2, 193-pounder is considered the nation’s No. 8 junior college prospect by Rivals.com and will have three years of eligibility remaining. Shepard signed with Notre Dame in 2012 and was an early enrollee in South Bend but never suited up for the Irish.

The Bulldogs are also expected to sign Mississippi’s Mr. Football, West Point running back Aeris Williams. The 6-foot-2, 208-pounder rushed for 2,229 yards and 28 touchdowns this past season for the Green Wave. Joining Williams in the backfield is Forrest County AHS standout Dontavian Lee, who guided the Aggies to a Class 4A State Championship.

Instate four-star athlete commitments – Jamoral Graham of Newton County and Gerri Green of Greenville-Weston – are both expected to sign national letters of intent with MSU today. Graham will contribute as a slot receiver while Green is a linebacker.

The Bulldogs are also hoping to get some help along its defensive line today. Clinton defensive end Grant Harris is the favorite to sign with State while the Bulldogs have a shot at landing Bellevue, Wash., defensive tackle Marcus Griffin or flipping Alabama commitment O.J. Smith.

Mississippi State’s top remaining target – McCalla, Ala., defensive end Cory Thomas – is expected to make his final decision between Tennessee and Clemson today, leaving the Bulldogs out in the cold after officially visiting two weeks ago.

logan.lowery@journalinc.com