Mississippi State

Late additions boost MSU's signing class

 Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen
ASSOCIATED PRESS Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen AP

Two late signees helped salvage Mississippi State's signing class on Wednesday.

The Bulldogs lost offensive lineman Scott Lashley to Alabama, and offensive lineman Lloyd Cushenberry to LSU.

MSU got a slight glimmer of hope when four-star defensive end Kobe Jones took off his sweatshirt revealing an MSU button down and bow tie and put on the Bulldog visor.

"Kobe Jones is a guy that we're excited to have right here in Starkville," Mullen said. "That made everybody really proud in town and at Starkville High School. He is what our program is all about: the effort, the character and doing things right all the time. Every time we had him in camp, he was always going to be the hardest working guy you're going to see, every single day in every single drill. We're looking for work ethic and high-character young men and he fits that for us."

With the momentum built by Jones' announcement, it was quickly deflated as Starkville four-star wide receiver A.J. Brown chose Ole Miss.

All was not loss for the Bulldogs because Noxubee County's five-star defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons chose MSU over Ole Miss and Alabama. Simmons was the state's most dominating defensive lineman since Chris Jones three years ago, finishing with 274 tackles, 53 tackles for loss and 38 sacks in three years.

"Jeffery Simmons is obviously the best player in Mississippi," Mullen said. "In all the discussions we had in the recruitment of Jeffery was that he was number one on our list not just because of the talent on the field. I've known him for three years and you look at what he does in the classroom and in the community and how he's developed, he's a first-class young man.

"I can potentially see him being the next Fletcher Cox, Kaleb Eulls and Pernell McPhee. He's up there in that discussion. He has the work ethic, that demeanor and that attitude to be very special."

Going into his freshman year, Simmons has the talent to make an immediate impact for the Bulldogs' defensive line. The opportunity to come in with the loss of Chris Jones to the NFL was obviously a big part of his decision as was defensive line coach David Turner.

The Bulldogs' class filled many needs across the board despite several misses.

Mullen had 16 decommitments over the course of three years with this class. The Bulldogs also had to split on four players within a 30-mile radius of Starkville with Lashley and Brown going elsewhere. The pressure to stay home was a disadvantage at times.

"I think there's a lot of pressure put on these young men," Mullen said. "There's a lot of different angles. You're talking about 18 year-olds and I tell them that I don't envy them at all in having to make decisions. I think that is something that is oft overlooked when you look at the recruiting process and the pressure that they're under."