Young Bulldogs rake in honors

Chad Bumphis knew he’d fit into Dan Mullen’s offense. He just didn’t figure he’d be so critical to Mississippi State’s success so soon.
But that was the case for several MSU freshmen this past season.
Bumphis, of Tupelo, turned out to be the Bulldogs’ leading receiver this season, catching 32 passes for 375 yards and four touchdowns. As a result, he was one of four MSU players named to the SEC Coaches’ All-Freshman Team, which was released Thursday.
“I expected to come in and play, but I didn’t think I’d do as well as I did,” said Bumphis, who became the first MSU freshman to lead the team in receiving since Mardye McDole in 1977.
Also named all-freshman were safety Johnthan Banks, cornerback Corey Broomfield, and defensive lineman Fletcher Cox.
Bumphis, Banks, and Cox are true freshmen, while Broomfield is a redshirt.
Also named to the team was Ole Miss punter Tyler Campbell, who ranked second in the SEC with 43.6 yards per kick. He was one of four unanimous selections. His Rebels teammate, linebacker D.T. Shackelford, also was picked.
South Carolina and Vanderbilt were the only other teams to place four players on the squad this season.
MSU’s freshman class was relied upon heavily by Mullen, who was formally introduced as the new head coach one year ago today. The Bulldogs finished the 2009 season at 5-7 overall (3-5 SEC) despite playing the toughest schedule in the country.
State closed the season with a 41-27 upset of Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl. In that game, Bumphis caught a 34-yard touchdown pass and Broomfield had an interception.
Broomfield led the team with six interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. Banks had four picks, and he made all the highlight reels when he picked off Florida’s Tim Tebow and returned it 100 yards for a TD. He also had a 20-yard interception return that game, which Florida won, 29-19.
Banks, who played at East Webster, led all MSU freshmen with 33 tackles. Cox was second among that group with 29 stops, plus he had 3.5 tackles-for-loss and a sack. He drew four starts.
“It just shows us the potential we have and what we could be if we just work hard,” Bumphis said of MSU’s freshman class. “We’ve got a lot of talent in this class.”

Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or brad.locke@djournal.com

Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal