MSU again focuses on state

MULLEN

MULLEN

By Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen put the finishing touches on the 2014 recruiting class by signing 21 prospects on Wednesday.

Those signees join two early enrollees completing Mullen’s sixth class since taking over the reins at MSU in 2009. The Bulldogs’ class was ranked 38th nationally in the 247Sports.com composite rankings which put them 12th in the Southeastern Conference.

“When you look at the class as a whole, I’m not just excited about the quality of players we brought in but also with the character of the players we’re bringing in,” Mullen said. “That to me is really important with what we’re trying to build here and they guys that we look for.”

In-state prospects were once again an emphasis for Mullen and his staff. Fifteen of the 23 total commitments in the 2014 class hail from programs inside the Magnolia State.

Of the 149 players that have signed to play for Mullen in Starkville, 95 have been from Mississippi schools.

“It’s always been important in the foundation we’ve built here,” Mullen said. “The priority we put on recruiting guys from the state of Mississippi allows you to have a really good feel looking into the future at guys within the state and our local footprint. It always allows you to stay ahead of the game that way.”

In Mullen’s opinion, he inked the top prospect in Mississippi in Greenville-Weston linebacker Gerri Green. The 6-foot-4, 221-pounder was a consensus four-star prospect recording 98 tackles, 11.5 stops for loss and five sacks in a injury-shortened senior season.

“This class is headlined by Gerri Green,” Mullen said. “He’s got all the tools as a big-time linebacker. We got to work with him at camp. He’s got all the character and leadership and has a chance to finish as the valedictorian of his high school.”

The Bulldogs also signed Mississippi’s Mr. Football in West Point running back Aeris Williams. Williams rushed for 3,994 yards and 41 touchdowns as a three year starter for the Green Wave.

“He carried the load for his team,” Mullen said. “At 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, he’s a load at running back. He’ll put on some size and strength when he gets here. With the speed, athleticism and game-breaking ability that he has, I think he’s going to be a pretty special player.”

Both the MSU football and basketball team received a lift with the signing of Marietta, Ga., standout Elijah Staley. The 6-foot-6, 231-pound southpaw will play quarterback for the Bulldogs and will also suit up for Rick Ray on the basketball court.

“I guess I have a pretty good quarterback track record and I rated him as a five-star on our board,” Mullen said.

logan.lowery@journalinc.com