Mississippi State football releases first depth chart for 2014 season

Jones isn't listed as a starter initially, but that doesn't mean he won't be come August 30th. - Kevin C. Cox

We're still six or so weeks away from football, but today we get our first glance at the depth chart–which yes, will surely change between now and August 30th–for the 2014 football season.

The frenzy that is the annual SEC Media Days began today; an important marker on our countdown towards the start of another college football season.  And today also brought us another important part of the buildup to the season: media guide day!  Thanks to the great work by Bill Martin and the rest of the MSU staff, the 2014 MSU Football Media Guide is now available for our consumption.

Besides the outstanding cover photography work by our friend Blake McCollum, the media guide also brings us the first look at a depth chart for the 2014 season.  A depth chart six weeks away from the season and prior to the start of fall camp certainly isn't set in stone, but it does at least give us a look at who should be competing for starting spots this fall.  Without anymore rambling, let's take a look at how things start off for MSU:

MSU 2014 Depth Chart Preseason

Courtesy MSU Football Media Guide

As you can see, most of the positions start off as you could expect, with returning starters filling their same roles all over the offense and defense.  There are a few positions of note, though, so let's discuss those:

  • The battle to replace the great Gabe Jackson at left guard looks to be a good one as Jamaal Clayborn and Kent Flowers are listed as possible candidates to replace the MSU great on the left side.  State fans certainly hope this is a tight race up until the first game, as both of these players are expected to be the next big thing at that position.  The competition will certainly do them good.
  • Right tackle looks to be wide open, as expected, with Justin Malone and Damien Robinson likely battling for the starting spot.  Malone will be coming back from a foot injury that sidelined him last year, so he'll be in for a tough battle with Robinson to claim the spot.  Thomas is a future starter at left tackle, but I would be surprised if he supplants both men in front of him this year barring injury.  Anything can happen though.
  • While QB and the WR slots are all filled as expected with 2013 starters, the running back position is as much of a mess on paper as we knew it would be.  State essentially does not list a starter, although one would expect Josh Robinson to be the starter with Nick Griffin and Ashton Shumpert also seeing significant playing time.  Holloway will also get some PT at more of a slot position I would expect, but even if you remove him the backfield is packed.  This will be a position to watch going through the season.
  • On the defensive side of things, there are a lot of familiar names highlighted in bold as starters from the defensive line and all the way through the backfield.  On the line, Ryan Brown, P.J. Jones, Kaleb Eulls and Preston Smith are listed as the initial starters.  I would be very surprised if Chris Jones doesn't grab a starting spot somewhere on the line when August 30th rolls around, but either way State will be strong up front. 
  • At linebacker, things are led by Benardrick McKinney in the middle, who besides Dak was probably the most cemented into a starting position going into the fall.  You have to feel for Richie Brown who is stuck behind McKinney on the depth chart, although I would expect him to find his way onto the field this fall in addition to being the likely starter at MLB in 2015.
  • Another position under focus with MSU fans is strong safety where State will look to replace 52 year (slight exaggeration) starter Nickoe Whitley.  Currently the battle for that position is between Kendrick Market and senior Jay Hughes.  Both have playing experience under their belts and should be more than adequate replacements for the hard hitting Whitley.
  • And last but not least, we couldn't forget the cornerback position, where MSU may return the SEC's best corner combo in Jamerson Love and Taveze Calhoun.  Both are returning starters from a defense that was fifth best in the SEC in pass defense in 2013.  That should only improve in 2014.

NOTE: The pronunciation guide being included is a very nice bonus and a fun read.

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