National Signing Day is now just over a day away, and Bulldog fans and the MSU coaching staff alike are anxiously awaiting signatures from some of the top talents from around the state of Mississippi as well as the south. While MSU's efforts may not garner the national attention that outstanding classes like LSU's and Alabama's do, the 2014 class is a very solid one, and one that looks to provide depth and some immediate impact at key positions for the maroon and white. While there are many who do follow recruiting year round, a lot of fans just keep up with it as National Signing Day nears, which is certainly understandable. Hopefully this primer will lay out all possibilities for National Signing Day for those are looking for a complete picture of MSU's 2014 class.
First up, let's take a look at the players who are committed to MSU, and that are expected to sign with Mississippi State on Wednesday morning.
Committed and Will Sign
- Darrion Hutcherson | Copiah-Lincoln CC | TE | 6'7", 260 lbs | 3*
- Elijah Staley | Marietta, GA | QB | 6'6", 231 lbs | 3*
- Chris Rayford | Byhalia, MS | CB | 6'1", 200 lbs | 3*
- Dontavian Lee | Brooklyn, MS | RB | 6'1", 210 lbs | 3*
- Lashard Durr | Gulfport, MS | CB | 5'11", 180 lbs | 3*
- Brandon Bryant | Tunica, MS | S | 6'0", 195 lbs | 3*
- Logan Cooke | Columbia, MS | K/P | 6'5", 200 lbs | 3*
- Gerri Green | Greenville, MS | ATH | 6'5", 230 lbs | 4*
- Aeris Williams | West Point, MS | RB | 6'1", 205 lbs | 4*
- Jamoral Graham | Decatur, MS | ATH | 5'11", 180 lbs | 4*
- Jesse Jackson | Petal, MS | WR | 6'2", 195 lbs | 4*
- Braxton Hoyett | Pelham, AL | DT | 6'3", 285 lbs | 3*
- Deshon Cooper | Decatur, GA | OLB | 6'4", 215 lbs | 3*
- Deion Calhoun | Fairfield, AL | OG | 6'3", 310 lbs | 3*
- J.T. Gray | Clarksdale, MS | S | 6'0", 190 lbs | 3*
- Elgton Jenkins | Clarksdale, MS | OL | 6'5", 275 lbs | NR
- Tee Shepard | Fresno, CA (Holmes CC) | CB | 6'1", 197 lbs | 4*
- Jordan Harris | Stone Mountain, GA | OL | 6'5", 292 lbs | 3*
The 18 players included in that list are the players currently committed to MSU and that, from all available reports, will sign with MSU on Wednesday. They are in addition to the two early signees - Jocquell Johnson and Nick Fitzgerald. This list features players that will fill needs for MSU, including on the offensive line, defensive line, defensive backfield, and on special teams. Some players like Aeris Williams (RB), Darrion Hutcherson (TE), Tee Shepard (CB) and Logan Cooke (K/P) could come in and contribute right away for MSU at their respective positions while others on this list will need a redshirt year to learn the offense/defense and to get stronger with new strength coach Rick Court.
Committed but Wavering?
Some people may question why we even need a category that features both the words committed and wavering, but that's the world of recruiting. It's best to just accept that committed, uncommitted or quasi-committed - a player is never a definite to sign with a school until their National Letter of Intent is faxed in. So with that in mind, let's take a look at one player still committed to MSU, but that may still sign somewhere else.
- Will Coleman | Tyler, TX | DE | 6'5", 248 lbs | 3*
Coleman is an interesting situation, and one that we may not know for sure about until Wednesday morning. The Texas junior college standout has been committed to Mississippi State since October, but this past weekend he took an official visit to Arizona State. While Coleman assured Bulldog coaches that it was strictly a courtesy visit and that they had nothing to worry about, there still seems to be enough hesitation and uncertainty in his answer ($) that we should not count him as a sure thing to sign with MSU on Wednesday. As of now, I would uneducatedly guess that Coleman is a 70% lock to sign with MSU. What I'm trying to say is that he should sign with State, but we don't know for sure.
Uncommitted Targets Remaining
And now we've reached the category that many fans enjoying following the most this time of the year - uncommitted targets. A sad but true part of recruiting is that some fans put more stock in a big finish to a signing class than the overall talent and potential that the class has. A team can have an outstanding recruiting class mostly put together by November, but if they don't add one to two big names late in the process, then the class is considered dull and a dud by some. That certainly isn't true for all fans that follow recruiting, but sadly you do see it some of the time.
As for the targets remaining on MSU's board, they are, as best we know as follows:
- Grant Harris | Clinton, MS | DE | 6'4", 270 lbs | 3*
- Jordan Sims | Homewood, AL | OG | 6'4", 345 lbs | 3*
- Marcus Griffin | Bellevue, WA | DT | 6'3", 300 lbs | 3*
- O.J. Smith | Bossier City, LA | DT | 6'2", 320 lbs | 3*
- Cory Thomas | McCalla, AL | DE | 6'6", 270 lbs | 3*
- Trey Carter | Dallas, TX | DE | 6'4" 255 lbs | 3*
- Jervontius Stallings | Birmingham, AL | C | 6'3", 305 lbs | 3*
This list does include a few players that are currently committed to other schools - again, don't but much stock in that word - but that MSU is still trying to sign this Wednesday. Of the seven names included with this list, MSU likely has a good shot at signing four, while two are likely headed to other schools, and one may be waiting to see how things go on Wednesday before announcing a decision.
The four players that MSU has a chance with still are Marcus Griffin, O.J. Smith, Cory Thomas, and Trey Carter. Griffin and Smith both visited MSU this past weekend, and all the visit recaps I've seen stated that both had a good visit. Griffin is down to Arizona, California and MSU while O.J. Smith seems to be making his decision between Alabama and MSU. At this juncture, it is completely unclear as to whether or not MSU will sign one or both of the big men, but the odds do seem promising. Even with that being the case, both could go either way on National Signing Day.
The other two players that MSU has a good chance at signing are Cory Thomas and Trey Carter. Thomas favored MSU early in the process, but ultimately he committed to Tennessee. Still, that did not stop him from visiting MSU two weekends ago, and his signature still seems to be up in the air between the Bulldogs and Volunteers. Trey Carter is a recruit that has been committed to Oklahoma State for a long time now, but lately there has been increased chatter that he may sign with MSU. While I have seen little to no talk about why Carter's plans may have changed, it seems that there are enough recruiting experts talking of his potential signing with MSU that it may, in fact, become a reality. If Carter did sign with MSU Wednesday, that would be two years in a row that the Bulldogs pulled a commit from Oklahoma State in the final days as the MSU stole WR Fred Ross from the Cowboys last year. Things seemed to trend towards Carter signing with MSU late last week, but there have been very few updates on that since then. Things may have cooled off which could mean he signs with Oklahoma State after all and not MSU.
The final three players to discuss are Jordan Sims, Bunchy Stallings, and Grant Harris. Sims (Ole Miss) and Stallings (Kentucky) seem all but certainly headed to schools other than MSU at this point. While this is the case, like we said there is no certainly until the pens hit the paper, so there is a small, small chance that MSU still lands both. Or one. Or neither! We really don't know. Grant Harris is a local prospect out of Clinton that MSU has kept up with for awhile now. Harris seems to be the toughest to read as I've seen little of anything updating his status or lean towards one particular program over another. He will ultimately decide between MSU, Southern Miss and Louisville on Wednesday.
In summary, it's very likely that MSU could end up with a signing day class somewhere between 19-25 signees on Wednesday. 22 to 23 (including the two early signees) is more likely the final number that MSU can sign with scholarship limitations for this season. Where the final count falls ultimately depends on where those final few targets end up, and if MSU loses any commitments due to last second changes of heart. My expectations are that MSU will keep all the players that are committed, and that two to three more are added, whoever they may be. With the class I expect to sign, MSU will have added some valuable depth to the roster, some players who could be key contributors to what promises to be a really good season in 2014, and a few players who could be the Gabe Jackson's and Jameon Lewis' of the upcoming seasons. 2014's signing class, no matter how it finishes, should make a lasting impact on MSU football.
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