No, not near as cool as "PANDA WATCH", but interesting nonetheless. I'll take a look at the numbers of the 2012 Bulldogs as it pertains to the 85 man scholarship limits as well as look at the number of spots available in the 2013 recruiting class and the needs that accompany the class.
By my unofficial count, there are currently 65 scholarship players on campus and enrolled in school. This does include JuCo transfers Dillon Holley, Charles Siddoway, and Denico Autry as well as high school early enrollees Quay Evans and Justin Senior. Assuming all of the signed recruiting class of 2012 is cleared to begin play either this summer or early in the fall, that would be 23 more scholarships granted. That brings us to a total of 88. Here is where things get tricky, and usually provides the most ambiguity in doing these sorts of breakdowns. What former walk-ons are going to be granted scholarships? Are walk-ons that were granted 'ships last year going to continue to be on scholly? No one really knows this stuff. Sometimes the football media director-Joe Gailbraith-will come out on twitter and announce when a walk-on is awarded a scholarship, but I'm guessing the continuance of that grant is up to Mullen. The possible scholarship walk-ons? Fullback Sylvester Hemphill, Wide Receiver Sam Williams, Fullback Adrian Marcus, and Offensive Lineman Ben Beckwith. If these walk-ons are ALL granted scholarships, then we would be giving out 92 of them. If none? 88. So, for conversations sake, we have anywhere from 88 to 92 scholarships potentially promised. That means we have to cut/process/transfer/medical redshirt/trade for basketball players(just kidding, no, really, we should do this) between 3 and 7 players between now and the first game. That's a tough chore for Mullen because of the depth, youth, and lack of non-contributing second/third/fourth year players. That's the group that normally transfers out of a program for more playing time. Most non-contributing seniors won't transfer because they have come to the realization that they aren't going to play in the NFL, don't want to move away from their friends/familiarity, and just want to get a degree.
Now, how does all of this shape the 2013 recruiting class? You only have as many scholarships to give out as you do graduating seniors/early entrees in to the NFL/transfers/attrition. Most of those reasons are natural attrition that are uncontrollable, and some like Michael Carr and James Maiden, who both quit last year, just lose their passion for the game. Whatever the case may be, there is a limit to how many scholarships that we are able to give out next year. Most major recruiting sites claim that we will sign a small class of around 20 players. As of this moment, I have it at an even smaller number. Players who have used up their eligibility believed to be on scholarship include: Bumphis, Heavens, Clark, Chris Smith, Templeton Hardy, Tobias Smith(could realistically get a medical hardship or ten if chose to do so), Sylvester Hemphill(if he's even on scholarship next year), Joey Trapp, Josh Boyd, Devin Jones, Dewayne Cherrington(was put on scholarship last year as a walk-on, who knows about this year?), Shane McCardell, Cameron Lawrence, Louis Watson, John Banks, Corey Broomfield, and Darius Slay. That's 17 by my count. So, as of right now, we have 17 scholarships to grant for next season. We CAN sign up to 25, but that wouldn't make much sense with the numbers crunch we are already in. I'm sure there will be some guys quit/transfer/decide to do something else. There always is. Under Mullen, however, the numbers have been quite small. Not too many guys leave the program once they get in.
Finally, let's take a quick look at the needs and some names to remember as the recruiting process begins to heat up this summer. We already have two wide receivers committed in Brandon Wells and JuCo former signee DeVante Scott. I think we are going to need a quarterback in this class. Cord Sandburg is our top guy here. He's out of Florida, a bigger kid, and he's a lefty. I'm sure Mullen will have a good recruiting pitch for him there.(TEEEEEEBOOOOOOWWWWWWWWW!!!!!) Ryan Buchanan of Jackson, MS is also a name that is heating up. He's been offered by much of the SEC and it looks like an Ole Miss/State battle. Also keep an eye on Devante Kincade out of Texas. He's in the mold of Anthony Alford from Petal who eventually signed with Southern Miss.
I also look for us to sign at least one running back even though we don't have any graduating off our roster. Ashton Shumpert from Fulton, MS, Kalio Moore from West Bolivar, MS, Kaleb Blanchard from Louisiana, and Mark Dodson(Ole Miss is his favorite) are all amongst the contenders here. Need to keep one of Shumpert or Moore at State. I really like Shumpert as a work horse type back. He's the best to come out of Mississippi since Anthony Dixon in my opinion.
At the wide receiver/tight end position, I look for us to sign at least three and maybe four wide outs. No tight ends this year in my opinion. We're stacked there for the future. We already have Scott and Wells committed. Also look for high school wide outs Scott Austin from Biloxi, MS and Eldridge Massington(long shot, but we're up there for him) from Texas. In the JuCo ranks we have offered big wide outs Quan Leslie and Johnathon Rumph, both of whom play their JuCo ball inside the state. Carlos Burse and DeAndre Woods from Georgia and Alabama, respectively, are both out of state wide outs that we are in contention with as well.
Always critical to grab a few offensive lineman each year to keep the numbers up and build depth. I wish we had more room this year, because Mississippi is absolutely loaded with OL prospects. Out of state, we have offered JuCo Tackle Aleon Calhoun from Navarro, TX. I'm sure we'll target a few other JuCo OL prospects down the road, as we should every year. Jake Thomas of Columbus, MS is our highest rated OL prospect and he has named us his favorite, Deon Mix from South Panola is also very highly regarded and we are among his favorites, Christian Morris is a high three star/four star prospect from the Memphis area, Vincent Hunter is also from Memphis and he is Morris' teammate, Daronte Bouldin from Canton,and Jamaal Clayborn from Jackson Academy just to name a few. Look for three to four guys taken here even with only 3 graduating offensive lineman off of the 2012 roster.
The defensive line will graduate four players off of this coming years roster, but since we stocked up pretty heavily last year, I would imagine we only take 2-3 prime time prospects. The golden fish seems to be Memphis, TN defensive end Frank Herron(fish, get it). He's a four star prospect that has offers from much of the southeast. We haven't signed a stud pass rusher from the high school ranks in quite a while and he would certainly be a huge get. We'll most likely tap in to the JuCo ranks once again for a few guys. Look for East Mississippi Community College teammates Za'Darius Smith and Lauren Jackson to get some hard looks from our staff as both are poised for big sophomore years in Scooba. Other high school names that we have offered that have expressed interest: Mack Weaver of Memphis, Rod Crayton of Dadeville, AL(home of Harvey Updyke I believe), and Jay Woods of Georgia.
At linebacker we stacked our decks for years to come with the signing of the Brown boys(no relation) Richie and Beniquez, but we'll look to sign 1 or 2 high school guys to bring in for 2013. Offers sent out: Darian Claiborne from Port Allen, LA, Duke Riley from New Orleans, LA(same school as 2012 signee Torrey Bell, look to be in the lead here), Marcus Robinson from Memphis, and Rashawn Smith from Florence, AL(same school as Beni Brown) are just a few of our top prospects here.
In the secondary, the staff has tried to build some depth for the day that Banks, Broomfield, and Slay all departed in the same year. That day has finally come. With some young guys like Jamerson Love, Taveze Calhoun, Will Redmond, Cedric Jiles, and Xavier Grindle(I think he'll play corner in college), the staff has done just that, but it wouldn't hurt to give us some JuCo help along with an immediate need for safety depth. Look for 3-5 guys to be taken in the secondary. Obviously, everyone's number one prospect should be former MSU signee Justin Cox. Cox will be heavily recruited out of EMCC. He can play either safety or corner, and would most likely be a starter from day one at State. Other names of interest in the secondary: T.J. McCollum, a safety from Alabama, Montreal Jordan from Philadelphia, MS, Gabe Myles from Starkville, MS, Jalen Ramsey from Brentwood, TN, Antonio Conner from South Panola, Cornelius Elder from Nashville, TN, and Jalen Reeves-Maybin from Clarksville, TN.
So, there is an early look at some of our top prospects, and I will try to keep you updated on our recruiting efforts as the season nears closer. Go Dawgs!