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Breaking Down Mississippi State’s 2017 Recruiting Class: Defense

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State finalized a pretty big recruiting class yesterday. Arguably one of the best in the Dan Mullen era, it features some high profile names that were coveted and recruited by many schools. I started this last week with the offense and special teams, now let’s finish it up with the bulk of the signings, the defense.

Defensive line

Dan Mullen stocked up on the defensive line in this recruiting cycle, signing 8 guys to come in and play on the line of scrimmage. That’s equal to the amount of guys he signed to play offense. Of those 8, 5 were early enrollees.

Mullen was able to bring in 3 defensive ends in this group, headlined by Chauncey Rivers, a 4 star pass rusher standing at 6-2 and 258 pounds from EMCC listed as 247’s 13th best junior college recruit. Along with Rivers comes Montez Sweat and Aaron Odom. Sweat is another highly sought after juco transfer and Odom was heavily recruited by many across the nation. Both are listed as 3 stars.

As for defensive tackles, Todd Grantham and Brian Baker get 5 to work with from this class. Deion Pope, Lee Autry, and James Jackson are all 3 stars that enrolled early with Pope and Autry being transfers from community colleges in Mississippi. Jackson is the largest of the trio, standing at 6-3.5 and 345 pounds. On signing day, 6-3 and 330 pound Noah Elliss from Colorado and fellow 3 star Jaquavious Collins joined this group.


Arguably the biggest signing of this recruiting class, Willie Gay committed and signed with the Bulldogs, and he’s expected to get playing time from the start. The 4 star Starkville native was the biggest name of the class and caused MSU to jump in the team rankings, but he wasn’t the only linebacker to sign with State.

From Fort Lauderdale, Florida came Mississippi State’s first signing last Wednesday. Tyler Dunning, a 6-0 tall and 229 pound 3 star outside linebacker is the other linebacker in this signing class. Dunning chose the Bulldogs over Miami, Tennessee, Arkansas, and LSU.

Defensive back

Rounding out this recruiting class is the position group that struggled the most in 2016. In the class of 2017, Mississippi State brought in 5 recruits to potentially help with the secondary, 4 of which were in Starkville before signing day.

Johnathan Abrams is the highest ranked of the juco transfers, coming in as 247’s 17th best juco recruit in the nation. Abrams is a 6-1 and 200 pound safety that could potentially compete for playing time immediately. Brian Cole, the 4th best juco safety, per 247 sports is another that might see the field soon.

Tyler Williams is a 3 star corner back out of Oxford that showed up on State’s campus in January as an early enrollee. The addition of Williams was huge because he ended up choosing MSU over Ole Miss. The last of the early enrollees is Jaquarius Landrews. Landrews is a 3 star safety from Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

On signing day, Landon Guidry was added to the bunch. The athletic signee from Tennessee played both corner and safety in high school, and that versatility could be valuable for the Bulldogs.

Final thoughts

Mississippi State added a lot of depth and talent in this class. Mullen clearly put an emphasis on the defensive side of the ball with this group and he may have found some guys that can make an immediate positive impact on day one.

One of the biggest issues the Bulldogs faced in 2016 was poor play in the secondary, but that wasn’t the only one. Failing to stop the run and a lack pressure on quarterbacks both reared their ugly heads this past season. Hopefully, in addition to the hiring of Todd Grantham, this group can go a long way to mitigating some of the issues that we’ve seen.