National Signing Day 2015 is still about a month and a half away, but Dan Mullen and the Mississippi State Bulldogs got an early jump-start on signing players for the class Wednesday. Mullen signed five players: three junior college prospects and two early graduates from high school. The list is as follows:
- Johnthan Calvin - Defensive End, Co-Lin Community College | 6'4", 252 lbs
- Malik Dear - Athlete, Murrah HS | 5'10", 214 lbs
- Donald Gray - Wide Receiver, Co-Lin Community College | 5'10", 180 lbs
- Martinas Rankin - Offensive Tackle, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College | 6'5", 295 lbs.
- Deddrick Thomas - Athlete, Memphis Central HS | 5'10", 173 lbs
Dear, Gray and Rankin are rated as four-star prospects by 247Sports, while Calvin and Thomas are both three-star prospects. All five players are eligible to enroll in January and join the team for spring practice in 2015. Four (Calvin, Dear, Gray, Thomas) have been committed since at least the summer, while Rankin was a nice addition to the class today when he chose MSU over Ole Miss and Oklahoma, among others.
With talented players like Jameon Lewis, Preston Smith and Blaine Clausell graduating, every one of these five can come in and serve an immediate need. Gray is a super-talented slot wideout prospect who could see immediate time in Jameon's old role, however he'll likely have to fight off or split time with rising sophomore Gabe Myles who played very well in Lewis' absence last season. Calvin will bolster a defensive front that will be replacing Preston Smith, Kaleb Eulls and others, while Rankin could come in and fill the void left by Blaine Clausell at left tackle. Dear and Thomas are both athletes, and it will be interesting to see where they wind up position-wise at State. With Gabe Myles and now Gray, State is very deep at the slot WR position, so it would stand to reason that only one of Dear or Thomas would wind up at that position as well. Both guys are talented athletes that could end up touching the ball from several different positions for MSU.
Depending on how NFL draft grades come back for a few juniors, MSU could again be very talented in the 2015 season. Guys like Gray, Rankin and Calvin could come in and immediately plug some gaps that exist going into next season, which gives State a chance to be even better in Dan Mullen's seventh season. With Prescott back, State is likely to be a top-25 team in 2015, and Gray and Rankin will get a chance to help the offense again try to break school records following a successful 2014 campaign.