By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State hopes to hang on to what it has and then add a few more today.
MSU has assembled a strong cast in its 2013 verbal commitment class, but nothing is certain until those prospects start faxing in their national letters of intent today, which is national signing day.
Coach Dan Mullen currently has 22 players committed to his program after athlete Tyre’oune Holmes flipped to Southern Miss on Tuesday. Four of them are already on campus and enrolled in classes. The other 18 prospects are expected to sign, although there’s one LOI in particular Mullen will be anxiously looking for.
Chris Jones, a five-star defensive end from Houston, will announce his choice between MSU and Ole Miss this morning at his high school. Jones committed to State back in June, but his recruiting picked up quickly after a strong senior season and his performance in the Under Armour All-America Game last month.
Jones aside, Mullen has assembled a strong group that includes four-star tailback Ashton Shumpert of Itawamba AHS. There have been rumblings of Shumpert considering other options, but he committed to State on Jan. 7 after a thorough recruiting process.
According to 247Sports.com, Shumpert is one of five four-stars committed to MSU. One, defensive back Justin Cox (East Mississippi Community College), is already on campus. The others are receiver Donald Gray (Memphis) and offensive lineman Jake Thomas (Columbus).
Receiver Fred Ross committed on Tuesday night. Ross, a consensus four-star, had been committed to Oklahoma State for almost a year before reconsidering that decision.
more msu targets
There are a handful of uncommitteds Mullen hopes to reel in today, including cornerbacks Mackensie Alexander and Jahmere Irvin-Sills.
MSU could also wind up with South Panola offensive lineman Deon Mix, who withdrew his commitment Jan. 27 but still has the Bulldogs high on his list.
Another target to watch is Toby Johnson, a defensive tackle from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College. Johnson has scheduled an MSU visit for Feb. 15 and plans to sign on Feb. 19, according to 247Sports.com.