STARKVILLE – They haven’t played a game yet, but a couple of true freshmen are already in line to see action in Mississippi State’s season opener.
The latest depth chart includes defensive end Chris Jones and wide receiver De’Runnya Wilson as second-stringers. Both are expected to be among the half-dozen or so freshmen on the travel roster when MSU heads to Houston to face No. 13 Oklahoma State on Saturday.
“They are two guys we expect to play in this first game for us,” head coach Dan Mullen said Monday.
Jones, a five-star prospect out of Houston High School, is listed as the backup to senior Denico Autry. Jones has impressed teammates and coaches in practice with his size, speed and skill.
“He keeps getting better every day. I can see him wreaking havoc on the field,” said left tackle Blaine Clausell, who has blocked Jones a few times in preseason camp.
Wilson, a 6-foot-5, 215-pounder from Birmingham, is listed as the backup to Joe Morrow. Offensive coordinator Les Koenning said what Wilson has done to work his way into the receiver rotation is simple: “Get open and catch the ball.
“You know, it’s pretty obvious when you throw him the ball, he makes plays. When the ball is in his vicinity, he catches it, and that’s a good quality to have as a receiver.”
Safety Jay Hughes doesn’t foresee a dropoff in MSU’s cornerback play this year.
The Bulldogs lost both of last year’s starters, Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay, to the NFL. They combined for nine interceptions last season and led a pass defense that ranked 45th in the country.
Taveze Calhoun and Jamerson Love are slated as starters this week, with Justin Cox and Cedric Jiles also in the mix. Mullen said he expects to play four or five corners against Oklahoma State, “and maybe even more.”
Hughes, a junior, said he realized how good the current crop could be when watching film on them in the spring.
“I think Jamerson and Taveze are just as good as Banks and Slay,” he said. “They communicate well, that’s the thing about it. Communication is our key.”
Mullen’s injury list is a short one this week. Reserve tight end Rufus Warren is doubtful with a sprained ankle, while backup middle linebacker Ferlando Bohanna is questionable with a concussion.
Bohanna said he’ll be a game-time decision Saturday, but is aching to be on the field.
“I just talked to the trainers, and I’m doing everything I can,” he said. “I don’t want to miss this one for the world.”