Mississippi State's defensive ends accounted for 11 of the team's 19 total sacks last season. Honestly, both numbers are far too pedestrian and need to improve this season in order for the Bulldogs to be successful. The good news is that all of the major contributors are back and five-star recruit Chris Jones joined the unit. A solid pass rush from the ends would be a tremendous help to a defense that will be breaking in two new starters at corner. This group definitely doesn't lack for length as most of the ends are in the 6'5-6'6 range.
Denico Autry is the headliner for a group that, on paper, offers a lot to love. The 6'6 265-pound Autry finished last season with four sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss and was playing his best football towards the end of the year. Now, he needs to take that next step. It's been a while since MSU had a player record double-digit sacks (Willie Evans, 15.0 in 2005) but I think a lot of us believe Autry can be the next guy to do it.
Slated to start opposite Autry is the player that led the Bulldogs in sacks in 2012. Junior Preston Smith racked up 4.5 sacks last year and has quietly developed as a guy that has a knack for getting to the quarterback.
MSU D-END POWER RANKINGS
|1||#90 Denico Autry||6'6||265||Sr.||4.0 sacks, 9.5 tfl, 7 hurries|
|2||#91 Preston Smith||6'6||255||Jr.||4.5 sacks|
|3||#89 Chris Jones||6'6||300?||Fr.||HS All-American|
|4||#48 Ryan Brown||6'6||260||So.||15 tackles, 1 tfl|
|5||#47 A.J. Jefferson||6'2||260||RFr.||Redshirted|
|6||#49 Torrey Dale||6'6||250||RFr,||Redshirted|
|7||#56 Corvell-Gay Harrison||6'3||265||Sr.||5 tackles|
|8||#99 John Harris||6'5||235||RSo.||1 tackle|
The most watched player at MSU's fall practices has to be freshman Chris Jones. The official roster lists him at 250 lbs., but most reports (and eyeballs) say he's closer to 300 and still incredibly explosive. You don't recruit an elite talent like Jones with thoughts of redshirting and from all accounts that definitely won't be the case as he continues to shoot up the depth chart.
The trio of Ryan Brown, A.J. Jefferson, and Torrey Dale are worth watching as well. Brown was simply too good to keep off the field last season as a freshman and could challenge Preston Smith and Chris Jones for a lot of playing time.
Readers -- Who/What are you most looking forward to seeing from the defensive end position?