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Mississippi State Wideout Donald Gray's Role Just Got a Lot More Important

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With De'Runnya Wilson announcing he's leaving early for the NFL, Donald Gray will be relied on heavily in MSU's offense going forward.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Donald Gray committed to Mississippi State as part of the 2013 class before taking the junior college route instead. It was there that he upped his stock even more and became the No. 1 JUCO receiver in the nation, according to some recruiting websites.

Once Gray finally made it to campus and suited up in maroon and white for the first time in 2015, he proved that ranking and showed the fans why he was heralded as one of the best receivers in the country.

Coming in mostly off the bench, Gray finished fourth on the team among wide receivers with 386 yards. He also added two touchdowns and led all receivers with a nasty 18.4 yards per catch.

That ability as MSU's biggest down-field threat is now more crucial after three-year starter De'Runnya Wilson announced plans to leave school early to play professional ball. Along with being one of MSU's most consistent receivers over the last couple of years, Wilson's size was a nightmare matchup for opponents in the red zone. He led State with 10 touchdown receptions in 2015.

While Gray doesn't possess the size or length of a player like Wilson, he does add value to MSU's vertical passing game that has been lacking for a long time. And it's not just his speed that makes him so dangerous down the field, it's his ability to win jump balls and make unbelievable catches in traffic.

That was on display no better than on his touchdown pass from Nick Fitzgerald against Troy: Link.

Don't be surprised to see a lot more of those two hooking up when Gray takes over Wilson's starting spot in 2016. At 5-foot-10, 193 pounds, Gray is naturally more of a slot receiver. But considering Wilson's departure and MSU's depth in the slot with Fred Ross, Malik Dear, etc. Mullen needs Gray to stay on the outside.

The good news for the Dogs is that Gray still has two years of eligibility remaining. He played just one season at Copiah-Lincoln before enrolling early in the spring of 2015 in Starkville.

With another spring and another year of knowledge of Dan Mullen's playbook, Gray has a solid chance at putting up numbers similar to Chad Bumphis or Fred Ross in MSU's offense.