A year ago, Mississippi State had one of the best 1-2 punches in the nation when it came to receivers. Between De’Runnya Wilson and Fred Ross, Mississippi State was a nightmare for most secondaries to have to face.
Coming into 2016 however, there are a few questions that this receiving corps will have to answer. There’s no prominent deep threat that has developed just yet and Fred Brown, a guy that was expected to see a significant increase in playing time and targets, is no longer with the team.
But there’s still plenty of talent to go around. This position unit is still dangerous and should provide plenty of quality targets for whichever guy wins the quarterback battle.
Notable losses: De’Runnya Wilson, Fred Brown, Joe Morrow
Key Returners: Fred Ross, Gabe Myles, Donald Gray, Jesse Jackson, Malik Dear
Big Additions: Jamal Couch, Osirus Mitchell, Reginald Todd, Keith Mixon (redshirt), Jonnas Spivey (redshirt), Deddrick Thomas (redshirt)
Other Players Worth Noting: Brandon Holloway
The biggest asset this group has is speed. There’s plenty of versatile and quick guys all around this group, and that will make them tough to contain for opposing defenses.
Leading them is Fred Ross. The senior from Tyler, Texas is poised to have a big year. He exploded onto the national scene a year ago and became a household name by the time 2015 was through. Despite the fact that he played the entire year injured, he still had 88 receptions for 1007 yards and 5 touchdowns. Even if he’s not 100% by the time the season kicks off, he should be set for another spectacular season.
And then there’s Gabe Myles and Donald Gray. Both of these guys showed their potential a year ago, and they’re already receiving some high praise from Billy Gonzales. Their athleticism should make them a valuable asset for Dan Mullen’s team this year.
"Gabe Myles has elite speed. I think we'll be faster when you put Gabe and Donald out there."— David H Murray (@DawgsBiteMag) August 1, 2016
Jesse Jackson and Malik Dear should see increased work loads this season. But for two different reasons. Jackson is a taller, longer receiver that gives Mississippi State another big target to get the ball to. Dear is a running back/receiver hybrid that will more than likely get reps at both positions. His strength is his versatility and he’ll be able to keep defenses honest because of that.
And now we can add a very large crop of youngsters. These guys are built into two different molds, both of which will be important for this team. You’ve got taller, lankier guys that will provide some dangerous downfield threats in Osirus Mitchell, Jamal Couch, and Reginald Todd, all of whom are listed at 6’4” and have an average weight of 201.7 pounds. And then you’ve got a solid group of quick slot receivers in Jonas Spivey, Keith Mixon, and Deddrick Thomas, these guys are all 6’0” or shorter and have an average weight of 187.7 pounds.
Brandon Holloway is worth mentioning here because of his versatility. Like Malik Dear, Holloway has spent much of his career split between playing running back and receiver. And we should expect him to do more of the same this season. His speed makes him a threat wherever he’s lined up on the field. And even if he’s not lined up at receiver, he’s still a threat to catch the ball and take it to the end zone.
There’s a lot to be excited about with this group of receivers. A lot of speed. A lot of potential. Whichever quarterback winds up winning the battle will have plenty of talented guys to throw the ball to.
Catch up with our other position group previews here: