Mullen focused on Magnolia State

West Point's Aeris Williams is one of three four-star recruits from the state to commit to MSU. (AP Photo/AL.com, Julie Bennett)

West Point’s Aeris Williams is one of three four-star recruits from the state to commit to MSU. (AP Photo/AL.com, Julie Bennett)

By Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

Mississippi State is putting the finishing touches on its 2014 recruiting class.

The Bulldogs currently have 18 commitments but are ranked 13th in the SEC by 247Sports.com.

Headlining Dan Mullen’s current class are three instate four-star commitments – Newton County athlete Jamoral Graham, Greenville-Weston linebacker Gerri Green and West Point running back Aeries Williams.

Mullen continues to place an emphasis on recruiting Mississippi as 11 of his current class hail from programs within the Magnolia State. Since Mullen arrived in Starkville in 2009, 81 of his 127 signees have come from schools within Mississippi’s borders.

Two of the Bulldogs 2014 class are already on campus as Copiah-Lincoln offensive tackle Jocquell Johnson and Richmond Hill, Ga., quarterback Nick Fitzgerald enrolled in January. Fitzgerald began practicing with MSU during its Liberty Bowl prep after graduating high school early.

Fitzgerald will join fellow Georgian Elijah Staley as the signal callers in the Bulldogs class. Staley, a 6-foot-7 southpaw, is also a standout basketball recruit and will play both sports at State.

The instate backfield tandem of Williams and Dontavian Lee combined for 4,453 yards of offense and 55 touchdowns this past season. Williams is the state’s Mr. Football while Lee carried Forrest County AHS to a Class 4A state championship.

Graham and Petal’s Jesse Jackson are expected to be playmakers at receiver although each had an injury-plagued senior season. Former Auburn signee Darrion Hutcherson is one of the Bulldogs most recent commitments from Copiah-Lincoln Community College as a tight end.

Johnson will anchor an offensive line class consisting of Jordan Harris and Deion Calhoun.

Junior college product Will Coleman is Mississippi State’s lone defensive end commitment, while Braxton Hoyett of Pelham, Ala., is the only interior defensive lineman currently pledged.

Green and Deshon Cooper of Decatur, Ga., makeup a talented linebacker twosome while an instate crop of Brandon Bryant (Rosa Fort), Lashard Durr (Harrison Central) and Chris Rayford (Byhalia) roam the secondary.

With signing day approaching on Wednesday, MSU hopes to close strong with the likes of defensive end Grant Harris and defensive tackle Marcus Griffin and with the possibility of flipping Cory Thomas from Tennessee or O.J. Smith from Alabama.

Holmes Community College cornerback Tee Shepard – a former Notre Dame transfer – is also a priority, as is Clarksdale safety J.T. Gray.

logan.lowery@journalinc.com