Dan Mullen put redshirts on 18 of his scholarship freshmen last season, and it bodes well for the future when a program can allow players to develop at a reasonable place. Several of those guys should find the field this fall for MSU.
The question I pose to you is, which redshirt freshman (or freshmen) will have the biggest impact? Allow me to offer up a few candidates, alphabetically.
• Ferlando Bohanna, linebacker: With all three starters from last year gone, there is ample opportunity for a guy like Bohanna to contribute. He seemed to find a good comfort level with the schemes in the spring, and he has talked like a guy who’s willing to put team goals at the top.
• Blaine Clausell, offensive lineman: He’s been locked in a battle with converted defensive tackle James Carmon for the starting left tackle spot, and Clausell (6-7, 295) has a good shot at winning the job. He studied under first-round draft pick Derek Sherrod for a season and should have greater familiarity with the offense than Carmon, who was moved over during Gator Bowl preparations and has some technique issues to work on.
• Kaleb Eulls, defensive end: A four-star prospect out of Yazoo County had already made a name for himself off the field when he disarmed a fellow student on a school bus. In fact, he’ll soon be recognized on Oprah’s TV channel for his heroics. Eulls could spend time at both end and tackle, and at 6-4, 280 pounds, is built to be an inside force.
• Malcolm Johnson, tight end: He came to Starkville as a receiver, but Johnson (6-2, 225) was moved to tight end in the spring. The starter there, Marcus Green, will be a big part of the offense if he can stay healthy, so who knows how much Johnson will play, but he has certainly shown great ball-catching ability.
• Jameon Lewis, receiver: The speedster was the talk of fall camp last year, flashing early and often the kind of play-making ability that could turn him into a star in Mullen’s spread offense. He was a key member of the scout team last season, playing the role of elite players like Kentucky’s Randall Cobb and Michigan’s Denard Robinson. MSU is pretty well-stocked at receiver, but Lewis needs to be utilized, and don’t be surprised to see him used some in the run game.
• Damien Robinson, offensive line: The 6-8, 310-pound Robinson was a big-time prospect from Olive Branch and is now listed as the backup to right guard Tobias Smith, who has battled injuries throughout his career. So look for Robinson to find a place in the rotation, and he’ll need to be ready to log starter’s minutes if Smith goes down again.
To refresh your memory, here are the other 12 scholarship redshirts: OL Dillon Day, QB Dylan Favre, RB Nick Griffin, TE Brandon Hill, LB Christian Holmes, DB Jay Hughes, WR Robert Johnson, OL Eric Lawson, DB Jamerson Love, OL Archie Muniz, DL Curtis Virges, DB/LB Matthew Wells.