By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State filled some big needs Wednesday.
The Bulldogs are looking to replace some key players at wide receiver and cornerback, and there are plenty of good candidates in the 21-man signing class that coach Dan Mullen procured on national signing day.
Four senior receivers are gone from an offense that put up some school-record numbers in the passing game in 2012. Junior college transfer Jeremey Chappelle, who enrolled at MSU last month, is expected to contribute immediately. Another one to watch is Fred Ross, a Parade All-American from Tyler, Texas.
Mullen expects there to be good competition in the fall for playing time at receiver.
“I mean, there’s going to be spots open,” Mullen said. “So until we get them out there to practice, see how fast they pick up the offense, see how fast they adapt to the speed of the Southeastern Conference, (that will) determine who gets on the field first.”
State signed six receivers, and a common theme is size – they average 6 feet, 2.5 inches tall. The tallest is De’Runnya Wilson at 6-5. B.J. Hammond is 6-4, while Chappelle and Ross are both 6-2.
Even though size has been a quality lacking in MSU receivers under Mullen, he said that wasn’t the big reason he signed those particular players.
“No, as we were evaluating guys, as we rated our guys, those were the guys that kind of jumped to the forefront that we wanted. And those are the guys that we ended up getting.”
As for cornerbacks, MSU is trying to replace Johnthan Banks, the Jim Thorpe Award winner, along with Darius Slay and Corey Broomfield. There is some experience returning, including Jamerson Love and Taveze Calhoun.
Justin Cox, out of East Mississippi Community College, is one Mullen said he’s “going to count on to step in and play immediately.”
Of the 21 signees, at least 13 of them are expected to play on offense. Last year’s class was more defensive-oriented. Mullen thinks MSU is getting close to achieving a good roster balance.
“We’ve got 11 seniors next year, so we’re going to be a very, very young team,” he said, “but I do think we’ve created some good depth, the type of depth you need to compete in this league.”