Yes, the Mississippi St. Bulldogs had a really bad defense during the 2016 football season. But just because the defense was bad overall, doesn’t mean there weren’t some nice pieces on that side of the football.
Three of those nice pieces should contribute to the the team for at least one more year and possibly two or three. Jeffery Simmons, Leo Lewis, and Marquiss Spencer were all freshmen who showed they are going to be the players the defensive coaching staff will build around for the next few seasons.
Marquiss Spencer got on the field as a true freshman. He didn’t play much, but there were times he made his presence felt. The Bulldogs will need solid play along the defensive line, and he showed he had a bright future in limited opportunities.
While Marquiss Spencer showed some flashes of greatness, Leo Lewis and Jeffery Simmons shined even brighter. Both were selected to the SEC All-Freshman team.
Leo Lewis is a redshirt freshman, and with the stellar play he showcased in 2016, it’s quite possible 2017 might be the last season we get to see him in Maroon and White since redshirt sophomores can declare for the draft. Lewis was consistently good all season long, something very few players on the defense could claim.
The one player who could possibly make the biggest impact on the defense in the long term is Jeffery Simmons. He was a five star player coming out of high school, and we saw why he earned that rating in his true freshman season. He didn’t play much, but whenever he did, opposing offensive coordinators had to account for his presence on the field.
The defense needs to get better in 2017. And Peter Sirmon has three players he can build around to get the group going in the right direction.