Mississippi State

Mississippi State’s building one of its best in-state signing classes under Dan Mullen

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen whistles for his players to move to their next station during practice in Starkville, Tuesday, July 25, 2017.
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen whistles for his players to move to their next station during practice in Starkville, Tuesday, July 25, 2017. AP File

When Dan Mullen addressed the media last week at the start of fall camp, the Mississippi State football coach was all smiles. It’s easy to see why when you look at the Bulldogs’ recruiting efforts.

While the rival in-state SEC program continues to take hits, the Bulldogs have built an impressive class that ranks 21st nationally, according to 247Sports’ rankings.

The Bulldogs entered the weekend with 19 verbal commitments and could possibly have as many as 25-27 by the time signing day rolls around. Paul Jones, publisher of Mississippi State 247Sports website Bulldawgs247.com, said MSU has done a good job of building its class while also capitalizing on the turmoil in Oxford.

“I think we’re already seeing the impacts (of the NCAA’s investigation into Ole Miss) within the Magnolia State,” he said. “The Bulldogs already have commitments from five of the Top 6 players in the state, according to 247Composite (rankings). They could very well have their best in-state signing group under Dan Mullen.

“Should Ole Miss face more sanctions, that could carry over to the class of 2019 in the state, which may very well be the best this state has produced in decades.”

Strengths and weaknesses

Jones said the strength of this class is at cornerback and safety, where the Bulldogs already have six commitments.

“Their work is almost done at those positions, that is if everyone stays committed. The Bulldogs have commitments from in-state cornerbacks Esaias Furdge of Clarksdale and Jaylon Reed of Olive Branch along with Arkansas native LaDarrius Bishop, who is a Top 5 prospect in Arkansas per 247Sports,” Jones said. “The Bulldogs also have a trio of safeties committed in this class, led by 247Sports four-star Marcus Murphy of West Point along with Tyrese Ross of Georgia and Shawn Preston of Louisiana.”

While MSU’s defensive backfield looks strong, Jones said there are two or three more areas that need work.

“Mississippi State is definitely looking to add two more offensive linemen and at least two more defensive linemen,” he said. “The same could be said for receivers. The Bulldogs have receiver commitments from 247Sports four-star Malik Heath and JUCO product Nero Nelson, but they want to add two more.”

Brad Cumbest

The Bulldogs have done a good job under Dan Mullen landing South Mississippi standouts. The Bulldogs have an early commit from East Central tight end Brad Cumbest, who pledged to MSU in June.

Jones said he saw Cumbest twice at Mississippi States and came away intrigued.

“He has good hands and should make a nice transition to the college level,” Jones said. “One of the toughest transitions for tight ends is to learn how to block and learn how to relish that role in college.

“But Cumbest is already ahead of the curve there and is a physical blocker.”

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs