Game week is finally upon us, and Mississippi State football released its depth chart for the Southern Miss game this Saturday.
It's your typical Dan Mullen depth chart with mostly the experienced players listed as starters. But which young guys that aren't starting Week 1 could be starting by Week 12? Here are three names to keep an eye on:
Gerri Green: Yeah, he's a middle linebacker and MSU is pretty set there with Richie Brown. But defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has said the best six linebackers will play, regardless of position. So if Green, a physical specimen at 6-foot-4, 243 pounds, lives up to the hype that has surrounded him since he arrived at MSU, he could find himself starting at one of those outside linebacker spots. Most would agree that Green's ceiling is a lot higher than Zach Jackson, the starting outside linebacker opposite Beniquez Brown. Green is athletic enough to handle the responsibilities of an outside linebacker and cover receivers, and he might get that opportunity if Jackson struggles early on.
Jamal Peters: Not many true freshmen get the opportunity to start right out of the gate, and neither will Peters. But the former four-star recruit and one of the most heralded safeties in the 2015 recruiting class will be in the rotation and quickly work his way up the depth chart. It's the perfect scenario for he and fellow freshman safety Mark McLaurin: learn the playbook and play meaningful snaps but not have the pressures of an every-down player. Growing pains will surely come just as they do with most freshmen, but Peters might be the missing piece to a MSU secondary that was plain embarrassing at times in 2014.
Justin Johnson: In a typical year, a true freshman tight end like Johnson would probably be forced to take a redshirt. But a lack of depth is on his side this season after four-year starter Malcolm Johnson graduated and went on to the NFL. Johnson still has to beat out two other talented players for playing time, but the good news for him is those two players only have four career catches between them. Coaches raved about Johnson in fall camp and John Hevesy went as far as to call Justin an upgraded Malcolm if he kept progressing. He was the No. 1 receiver in the state of Alabama in the 2015 class, so there's no doubt he will have good enough hands to provide another threat in MSU's passing attack.