Joe Moorhead received a majority of his recruiting class yesterday as the first Early Signing Period for high school/JUCO football recruits began. The early signing period has been a hot topic regarding college football this year and my formal opinion is it is a good thing. Is this biased? For sure.
I have seen too many “solid” commits to MSU fade down the stretch during the whirlwind of January visits. This allows the kids who want to sign fresh off their own football season to get it over with and be done. For those that want the limelight, enjoy January. Also, the JUCO and a few of the early grad HS prospects will sign and enroll at the end of the month to go through spring practice. With us installing a new offense, this will allow the new players to walk into spring camp on the same level as returning guys purely based on knowledge of the playbook.
Luckily MSU was able to get a vast majority of their class signed yesterday so we should have a relative uneventful February signing day.
Offensively, State signed 9 recruits yesterday. Here is the breakdown:
QB: Jaylen Mayden
RB: La’Damian Webb
WR: Stephen Guidry, Malik Heath, Devonta Jason, Cameron Gardner
TE: Brad Cumbest, Geor’Quarius Spivey
OL: Kwatrivous Johnson
QB- State only signed one but got a great prospect in Jaylen Mayden. He is a dual threat QB with good size and comes from a prolific offense at his Texas HS. He will arrive in the spring and with Fitz on the mend with his ankle, Mayden can expect to get a lot of snaps with the 2nd and potential 1st team. A redshirt year would do him good to get acclimated to the SEC but plans change as we saw at the Egg Bowl. Having a talented freshman of his caliber as our 3rd string next year speaks leaps and bounds about our program and where we have come.
RB- MSU elected to only take one RB in this class and could be getting a sleeper in La’Damian Webb. He was Mr. Football in Alabama as a junior and boast impressive numbers over his HS career. His size reminds me a lot of Josh Robinson who was also an under-the-radar player who flourished at MSU. He will redshirt with the RB position currently stable at MSU, but expect to hear his name down the road.
WR- MSU needed to upgrade its passing game this year after a lackluster performance for much of 2017. Mission accomplished with this recruiting class. Stephen Guidry is an instant impact JUCO WR who will start Day 1. He is the receiver we missed this year who can stretch the field. At 6’4 expect him to be a deep ball specialist in Moorhead’s offense.
Not to be overlooked, the pair of Malik Heath and Devonta Jason were very highly recruited HS prospects who could very well see playing time in 2017. Heath carries the “swag” that our WR corp has been missing for a long time (Dixon and Smoot like). The word is that Devonta Jason was told he will be used as a slot WR as to allow him, Heath, and Guidry to be on the field at the same time. Moorhead sees all 3 of these guys playing next year. Cameron Gardner is a local standout to Starkville who will most likely redshirt then look to contribute in a couple years as well. This is great news for the 2018 Bulldogs and, even better beyond, get pumped Keytaon Thompson.
TE- Brad Cumbest is a tough player. I watched the MS/AL All Star game this past weekend and on one of his catches he turned and initiated the TRUCK he put on a poor AL DB. Spivey is another HUGE player out of our pipeline in the Boot who is a freak athlete at 6’5. With this mindset and big boys, I expect Moorhead to use them frequently to clear the path as the TE/FB in the spread offense. They both can be expected to contribute in the pass game by sneaking into the flat and can cause some problems over the middle with their size, both being over 6’4.
OL- Along the offensive line is another place MSU needed to land some high profile guys and State got one in Kwatrivous Johnson. At a MASSIVE 6’7 and over 375lbs, he has all the raw tools to be a great SEC OT. He will benefit greatly from a redshirt year, and depending on his work set and ability to pick up the offense, I would not be surprised to see him competing for snaps come 2019.
Defensively, State signed 6 recruits yesterday. Here is the breakdown:
DL: Jalen Crumedy, Devon Robinson
LB: Jett Johnson, Sh’Mar Kilby-Lane
DB: Marcus Murphy, Shawn Preston
DL- On the defensive line, MSU received two players that should be great players for MSU in a couple of years. I say this both because A) Crumedy and Robinson will develop in a college weight room to be ready to play SEC defensive line and also B) Because our D-line is loaded for the next couple years and they should not be called upon early. This is a good problem to have on all fronts. Crumedy and Robinson will only benefit from it.
LB- Much like the defensive line situation, the 2 MSU signees at LB should not be called upon in 2018 to contribute with the likes of Leo, Willie, and Erroll all ahead of them. Jett Johnson is a great MLB prospect with good size and football awareness. He should benefit greatly from a redshirt year then be ready to contribute 2019. Kilby-Lane (big fan of the name) is a JUCO signee who was at Florida State prior to attending Co-Lin Community College. He could contribute some this year being a JUCO guy but could also redshirt and be ready to make an impact in 2019 as well. He was a late addition to the class but with an FSU background could add to the great LB depth MSU currently possesses.
DB- State picked up a great blend of prospects in the defensive back class of 2018. The headline will come from an athlete who could end up at a number of positions at State of both offense and defense, Marcus Murphy. Murphy is a do-it-all type prospect out of West Point where he played QB, RB, safety, and LB. I am going to pencil him in at safety as his QB experience should give him great instincts and his athleticism should shine at safety. Shawn Preston is another good prospect out of the Boot that should get into the rotation in a couple of years.
Overall, Moorhead did a fantastic job with this class considering the circumstances. He was hired a little over a month ago, had to introduce himself to the entire class along with finding a few more prospects, deal with Dan coming back for some of MSU’s commits, and still put a very solid top 25 class together.
The WR class is one of the best we have signed in years. 2 maybe even 3 WR’s could start the opening game in Moorhead’s offense. Mayden should compete early and make our QB room one of the best in the SEC West. HUGE guys along the OL and at TE should help keep the run game solid. Defensively, we got some playmakers that will have the luxury of a redshirt year to get better with all the talent returning in 2018.
The rest of the class will come together over the next few months as there will be the second signing period during February as usual. Expect State to make a run at some of the remaining uncommitted prospects in the SEC but mainly try and shore up the kids that did not sign early. This was a great day for MSU and we should be excited to see a lot of these Dawgs on the field early. Hail State.