Mississippi State

Mississippi State looking to finish strong on National Signing Day

ELI BAYLIS/HATTIESBURG AMERICAN/AP 
 Starkville's A.J. Brown, top, catches a pass against Alabama during the Mississippi-Alabama Football Classic All-Star game, Dec. 12, 2015, at Southern Mississippi's M. M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg. Brown is a top target for both in-state programs but could be headed to Alabama.
ELI BAYLIS/HATTIESBURG AMERICAN/AP Starkville's A.J. Brown, top, catches a pass against Alabama during the Mississippi-Alabama Football Classic All-Star game, Dec. 12, 2015, at Southern Mississippi's M. M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg. Brown is a top target for both in-state programs but could be headed to Alabama. AP

The culture of football recruiting has grown to astronomical heights and it's only getting stronger with the innovation of social media and the publicity that comes with it.

For Mississippi State, building off of a No. 1 ranking a season ago and a top 20 recruiting class has been more difficult than they could have imagined. The Bulldogs' 2016 class has struggled to gain traction, first and foremost, with double-digit decomittments over the course of a three-year period in the class.

Wednesday's National Signing Day finish will depend on the decisions of in-state talent, most notably surrounding four players within a 30-mile radius of MSU's Davis Wade Stadium.

So far, that finish is in flux.

The Bulldogs' biggest target is five-star defensive end Jeffery Simmons. The Noxubee County standout blew up during the summer of 2015 and had an even better senior year and postseason in the U.S. Army All-American game that elevated him to one of the top 30 players in the country.

Simmons was offered by MSU defensive line coach David Turner during his sophomore season and the two have had a great relationship since that time.

Lately, however, the scuttlebutt on Simmons is an Alabama and Ole Miss battle to the finish. While the two other SEC West rivals have been thought to be out front, Simmons is still high on the Bulldogs and sources close to the family believe that they are in it for his decision Wednesday morning.

Bulldog lean

Simmons has a great relationship with another Bulldog target, four-star defensive lineman Kobe Jones of Starkville High. Playing on both sides of the line, Jones helped lead the Yellowjackets to the Class 6A State Championship and has long been thought to be a Bulldog lean.

Alabama and Ole Miss have made a push for Jones but it looks to be trending MSU's way Wednesday when he is set to announce at the SHS field house at 8:50 a.m.

Yellowjacket in Tuscaloosa

His teammate, four-star wide receiver A.J. Brown, will also make his decision at that time. The Bulldogs were favorites for Brown since he earned an offer in the spring of his junior season. Since then, he's been trending towards Tuscaloosa and Alabama for the next four years.

The news for MSU fans hasn't been promising of late but they're hoping for good news on the nation's No. 5 receiver on signing day.

Four-star offensive tackle Scott Lashley is set to make his decision at 4 p.m. Tuesday at West Point High. Lashley committed to the Bulldogs in the summer only to rescind that commitment a few hours later.

Lashley has been pressed by LSU and Alabama in the last two weeks after taking official visits but the trend is still in favor of MSU today.

Strong OL

MSU does have a strong offensive line class in the works this season. The Bulldogs got word Monday that three-star offensive guard Stewart Reese of Ft. Pierce (Fla.) would be signing with MSU.

Reese joins Philadelphia, Miss. tackle Greg Eiland and Desoto Central guard Dareuan Parker as a commit. State is also awaiting the decision of current South Carolina commit Lloyd Cushenberry of Dutchtown (La.) with the Bulldogs trending heavily.

The close of MSU's class could be a strong one or things could go terribly wrong. Only one commitment currently ranks four stars by the 247Sports Composite with Greenwood defensive end Marquiss Spencer holding that distinction. It all will be settled by Wednesday morning, thus ending another wild recruiting cycle.

MSU's class is currently ranked 40th nationally and 12th in the SEC with 16 commitments in the class of 2016. They expect to sign upwards to 21 players.

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