Putting the Pieces Together: A Look at Mississippi State Bulldog Recruiting and the Impact of the 2014 Roster on it

Kevin C. Cox

The race to National Signing Day has reached a full sprint. Below is a "best-guess" look at the 2014 Mississippi State roster and where targets and verbal commitments line up in those plans.

**Updated  2/2/14 2:48 PM**

While many people get wrapped up into the number of stars a player has next to his name during recruiting season, it can become easy for fans to forget that the overall make up of a team's roster can go a long way in determining which players a coaching staff looks to pick up. At team with an impending lack of talent may very well take a solid three-star player at that position over a four-star player at an already loaded spot.

The 2014 class at Mississippi State looks to set up that way this year. The Bulldogs have some holes that they need to start filling for the future, and the commitment list and Bulldog targets show an effort to plug those holes. Below is a best guess at the breakdown of the Mississippi State roster for 2014 if every player plays this upcoming season. Some will not, backing them into the senior class of 2018.

MSU Defensive Backs By Class
Class of 2014
Class of 2015
Class of 2016
Class of 2017
Dee Arrington James Baldwin Quadry Antoine Jahmere Irvin-Sills
Justin Cox Taveze Calhoun Tolando Cleveland Brandon Bryant*
Jay Hughes Kendrick Market Kivon Coman Lashard Durr*
Jamerson Love Tyrell Miller Brandon Davis Chris Rayford*
Will Redmond Deontae Evans J.T. Grey*

Cedric Jiles
Tee Shepard*

A look at a the spread of the Mississippi State defensive backs shows a secondary that will have players with a solid amount of game experience for the next few years. It will be interesting to see who wins starting positions out of Dee Arrington, Jay Hughes, Jamerson Love, Will Redmond, Taveze Calhoun and Kendrick Market. All of these players produced during the season, or were at least expected to produce, until injury struck. The Bulldogs should have the luxury to redshirt most of, if not all, of the incoming players at this position should they choose.

Potential Additions: Mississippi State looks to be in play for Tee Shepard, and should they picked up a commitment from him today.  Clarksdale safety J.T. Grey also committed to the Bulldogs.

MSU Linebackers By Class
Class of 2014 Class of 2015 Class of 2016 Class of 2017
Ferlando Bohanna Zach Jackson Beniquez Brown Kelan Chairs
Ivan Muniz Benardrick McKinney Richie Brown Dezmond Harris
Matt Wells Mannie Lowery
DeAndre Ward
Deshon Cooper*
Gerri Green*

The Mississippi State linebacking corps will most likely only start one senior, Matt Wells, this upcoming. It seems quite improbable that Ferlando Bohanna will ever play another game due to his concussion issues. Benardrick McKinney will be the other sure-fire starter for this crew, leaving Beniquez Brown, Richie Brown, and perhapns another player (Gerri Green, assuming his is healthy and his fax comes through?) to compete for the third starting spot in this group. The Bulldogs are not very deep at this position, so a few injuries could force Mississippi State into playing true freshmen.

MSU Defensive Line By Class
Class of 2014 Class of 2015 Class of 2016 Class of 2017
Kaleb Eulls Ryan Brown Nelson Adams Braxton Hoyett*
P.J.Jones Quay Evans Torrey Dale
Preston Smith John Harris A.J. Jefferson
Curtis Virges Nick James Chris Jones
Will Coleman* Rodney Lacy
Trent Simpson
Jordan Washington

As things stand right now, the Bulldogs are very experienced along the defensive line, and this lends credence to the idea that Mississippi State would like to add a few more defensive linemen to the class to join Braxton Hoyett. If the Bulldogs are unable to bring in solid players at this position with this signing class, there is a very real possibility that in three years only one, if any, senior will start along the defensive line.

Potential Additions: Mississippi State has been working hard on Alabama commit O.J. Smith, and he took an official visit to Starkville this weekend. It will be interesting to see if the Bulldogs can flip him. Marcus Griffin, from the Washington, also traveled to Starkville this weekend and took pictures in Mississippi State gear, but is it enough to get him to play across the country? Grant Harris, a defensive end out of Clinton, is expected to sign with this class.

MSU Offensive Line By Class
Class of 2014 Class of 2015 Class of 2016 Class of 2017
Ben Beckwith Hunter Cunningham Cole Carter Andre Barber
Blaine Clausell Justin Malone Jamaal Clayborn Kent Flowers
Dylan Day Jocquell Johnson** Devon Desper Jake Thomas
Archie Muniz Justin Senior Deion Calhoun*
Damien Robinson Jordan Harris*
Paul Thompson Elgton Jenkins*

Mississippi State has managed to do a great job spreading out their players on the offensive line, and because of this, picking up a high school target for the position can be seen as a bit of a luxury. The Bulldogs made sure to wrap up Jocquell Johnson in the early signing period for JUCO players, and this should help them with senior leadership in 2015. Looking ahead to 2018, Mississippi State will be best served finding one or two quality high school offensive linemen to add to this class and redshirt once on campus.

Possible Additions: Elgton Jenkins, out of Clarksdale, moved up on the Bulldogs' list after the loss of a couple of other targets. He took an official visit this weekend, and he has committed to Mississippi State.

MSU Quarterbacks By Class
Class of 2014 Class of 2015 Class of 2016 Class of 2017
Sam Cowert Dak Prescott Damian Williams Nick Fitzgerald**
Joshua Hand Elijah Staley*

Mississippi State has little doubt as to whom their starter will be the next two seasons. Barring anything extraordinary, Dak Prescott will start the next two seasons for Mississippi State. Damian Williams proved quite capable when thrust into a starting role, and he should enter the fall campaign as the backup quarterback. This allows the Bulldogs to look to redshirt both NIck Fitzgerald and Elijah Staley. If Mississippi State chooses, they could go ahead and only redshirt one to space out their quarterbacks just a bit, but unless a player just balks, given Williams's play last year, it seems prudent to save up that quarterback talent unless injury necessitates it like in 2013.

MSU Running Backs By Class
Class of 2014 Class of 2015 Class of 2016 Class of 2017
Nick Griffin Josh Robinson Josh Creekmore Bennie Braswell
Ashton Shumpert Dontavian Lee*
Aeris Williams*

The Bulldogs have a very young stable of running backs, but many of the players in this group should produce during the 2014 season. Josh Robinson and Ashton Shumpert should compete to be the feature back, and it will be interesting to see how many carries Aeris Williams gets as a true freshman. The Bulldogs may look to redshirt him or Dontavian Lee to spread this group out just a bit, but given how events unfolded in 2013, the staff may decide to play all of the freshmen.

MSU Tight Ends By Class
Class of 2014 Class of 2015 Class of 2016 Class of 2017
Brandon Hill Rufus Warren Artimas Samuel Hunter Bradley
Christian Holmes Darrion Hutcherson* Gus Walley
Malcolm Johnson

As far as the tight end position goes, it will be interesting to see how much any of these players emerge this season. Malcolm Johnson produced the most out of this group for Mississippi State in 2013, hauling in 30 catches and two touchdowns. He provided a solid safety blanket for Prescott. The rest of the unit totaled seven catches and one touchdown. Darrion Hutcherson could emerge as the top player in this group this year due to his size and speed.

MSU Wide Receivers By Class
Class of 2014 Class of 2015 Class of 2016 Class of 2017
Jeremey Chappelle Joe Morrow Michael Hodges Shelby Christy
Robert Johnson Fred Ross B.J. Hammond
Jameon Lewis De'Runnya Wilson Javous Nicks
Taylor Henry Kareem Vance
Jesse Jackson*

The Bulldogs' wide receiver corps proves to be an interesting set up. Jameon Lewis has emerged as the go-to receiver in this offense, but it will be very interesting to see how much De'Runnya Wilson can produces as a sophomore. Over all, this position is still fairly open for a young player to step up and make a mark. Jesse Jackson could very well be the type of player to do that depending on the health of his knee. Given that he will be the only senior wide receiver on the roster in 2015 (barring a last minute JUCO wide receiver pick-up) there will be considerable pressure on Joe Morrow to improve this season.

MSU Special Teams
Long Snappers Kickers Punters
Bailey West (14) Devon Bell (15) Devon Bell (15)
Winston Chapman (15) Evan Sobiesk (16) Mike Mordecai (16)
Logan Cooke (17)*

There is not much to say about the special teams' units other than the field goal kicking for this squad must improve. Devon Bell seems to be a lock to punt for the Bulldogs. If Logan Cooke can make a positive impression early, one would have to think he could take over the kicking duties.

MSU Athletes By Class
Class of 2014 Class of 2015 Class of 2016 Class of 2017
Brandon Holloway Jamoral Graham*
Gabe Myles
Brandon Wells

Four very athletic players have been labeled with the "athlete" tab by the Bulldogs. It will be interesting to see where these players spend most of their time in the 2014 season.

As always, some of these names, especially projected signees (designated with *), could change between now and the start of the season. Some players could leave, and other players could switch positions.

*----Projected Signee

**---Already Enrolled

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