February 5, 2014 7:40:06 AM
STARKVILLE - Welcome to The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog headquarters for National Signing Day coverage.
It is our intent to update you, the loyal reader, with this post often with news as soon as Mississippi State University athletics administration announces they've received the faxed National Letter-of-Intent up until the final signee. We'll have the time of signing along with important information like height, weight, hometown and recruiting service rankings. So please folks bookmark this page all day long for MSU recruiting news.
- 12:30 p.m. UPDATE: Mississippi State's recruiting class is in all likelihood complete as Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze announced on his Twitter page, @CoachHughFreeze, that four-star junior college prospect Tee Shepard has signed with the Rebels after verbally committing to the MSU program following his official visit last weekend.
Shepard suffered a whirlwind of academic issues, such as having to sit out his senior season at high school because of transfer rules and was deemed ineligible by the NCAA due to correspondence courses taken to graduate from high school before signing with Notre Dame.
The former five-star cornerback by Rivals in 2012 landed at Holmes Community College where he finished his career as the eighth-best junior college player in the nation in this recruiting class. Shepard has told many media outlets he would consider the Bulldogs program at the top of his wish list.
Shepard, a likely instant impact defensive back, was in attendance at Davis Wade Stadium to watch MSU defeat Ole Miss in the 2013 Egg Bowl rivalry game.
"I am going to visit Mississippi State this weekend and they've been on me awhile," Shepard told 247Sports.com. "I want to be in the SEC and this is gonna be my only visit. All of my life I've been around great competition and I want to keep on doing that."
-11 a.m. UPDATE: Mississippi State got a big recruiting flip announced in the last hour as McCalla, Ala., defensive end Corey Thomas chose the Bulldogs over Clemson this morning. The former Tennessee verbal commitment reopened up his recruitment last month and arrived on the Starkville campus on Jan. 24 for his official visit. Here's the McAdory High School product's information:
- DE Corey Thomas (McCalla, Ala., McAdory High School) - 3-star from 247Sports.com, 6-foot-5, 273 pounds
HIGH SCHOOL: A three-star recruit according to ESPN.com, Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports ... Rated as the 19th-best prospect in the state of Alabama by ESPN.com ... A four-year letterwinner for head coach David Powell ... 2013 Alabama Sports Writers Association First-Team 5A All-State selection following junior and senior campaigns ... Earned a place on the MaxPreps 2013 Alabama Preseason All-State Football Team ... Helped the Yellow Jackets to a 10-3 overall record and 6-1 mark in Region 5 contests as a senior ... Squad advanced to the quarterfinals of the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) 5A state playoffs before falling to Southside 28-25 ... Anchor of a defense that surrendered only 161 points, an average of 12.4 per contest ... Recorded 75 tackles and 3.0 sacks during final campaign ... Recovered a fumble against Southside in the quarterfinals that led to a touchdown and 7-0 McAdory lead ... Played as a safety as a freshman ... Also has suited up for the basketball program.
- UPDATE: Here's how the 3 internet recruiting services have MSU's 2014 class ranked:
247Sports: 34th overall; 12th in the SEC
Rivals.com: 38th overall; 13th in the SEC
Scout.com: 39th overall; 13th in the SEC
- 10:30 a.m. UPDATE: MSU's signing class has expanded to 21 with the signing of OL Ronald Cochran from Olive Branch. Here's his information:
- OL Ronald Cochran (Olive Branch, Miss.; Olive Branch High) - 2-star from 247Sports.com, 6-foot-4, 255 pounds
HIGH SCHOOL: Talented in-state offensive lineman from who played for head coach Scott Samsel ... The state's No. 8-rated offensive tackle prospect by Rivals.com . . . Selected to play for the North Team in the 2013 Bernard Blackwell All-Star Game ... Helped pave the way for the offense to tally 358 points, an average of 29.8 points a game ... Squad reached the 40-point plateau twice, including posting 71 versus Raleigh-Egypt.
ALSO....Division II West Georgia announced this morning that they had signed Quay Evans, a former 4-star MSU signee from Morton, but MSU officials have yet to ever confirm Evans left the Bulldogs football program. Evans failed to make the trip to any road games in 2013, was not in attendance for the bowl preparations this winter and MSU coach Dan Mullen declined to make any public comments about his status throughout the offseason.
- 10 a.m. UPDATE: I was at Starkville High School for the Yellowjackets signing ceremony, Mississippi State's signing class has reached 20 members. Here's the eight players that have signed National Letter of Intents in the last two hours:
- LB Deshon Cooper (Atlanta, Ga.; Columbia High) - 3-star from 247Sports.com, 6-foot-2, 209 pounds
HIGH SCHOOL: One of the South's top linebacker prospects ... Helped Columbia to a 6-4 overall record and to a play-in game against Banneker to qualify for the Class 4A playoffs ... A three-star recruit according to Scout.com, Rivals.com and 247Sports ... Earned a place on the Georgia Sports Writers Association Class AAAA All-State First Team Defense ... Selected to play in the Georgia-Florida All-Star Game after final season ... Tallied 49 tackles, 17.0 tackles for lost yardage, 16.0 sacks, five forced fumbles and one fumble recovery during senior year ... On offense made 18 receptions for 335 yards and three touchdowns ... As a junior, made 63 tackles with 6.0 sacks and four forced fumbles ... Contributed on offense with 123 receiving yards and two scores ... Also suited up for the basketball squad at Columbia ... Won the Georgia High School Association Class 4A state championship first two years before falling to Eagle's Landing 61-47 as a junior.
- DE Will Coleman (Tyler, Texas; Tyler Junior College) - 3-star from 247Sports.com, 6-foot-5, 248 pounds
JUNIOR COLLEGE: A two-year letterwinner for head coach Danny Palmer ... Named to the Second Team All-Southwest Junior College Football Conference ... A three-star recruit according to ESPN.com, Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports ... Guided the Apaches to 9-2 overall record and a 47-21 victory against Garden City Community College in the Football Capital of Kansas Bowl in Dec. 2013 ... Squad finished the season ranked No. 10 in the final NJCAA poll ... During second year with the program, tallied 66 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery ... Ranked 11th among all junior college players, and first in the conference, in fumble recoveries with three ... Stood 11th in the NJCAA with 63 solo tackles ... Made a career-high 10 tackles against Navarro College on Oct. 5 ... In Kansas Bowl versus Garden City CC, booked a season-best 2.5 sacks for a total of 12 yards lost and recovered a pair of fumbles ... Tallied nine tackles in three games (Kilgore College, Blinn College and the Kansas Bowl) ... As a rookie, notched 18 stops and one sack while breaking up a pair of passes ... A teammate of Bulldog wide receiver Jeremey Chappelle at Tyler Junior College.
HIGH SCHOOL: Attended Tyler Lee High School ... Participated in track throwing the discus and won the District 11-5A title with a toss of 175-09.
- CB Lashard Durr (Gulfport, Miss., Harrison Central High) - 3-star from 247Sports.com, 5-foot-11, 181 pounds
HIGH SCHOOL: A First-Team Mississippi Association of Coaches Class 6A All-State selection in 2013 ... Helped Harrison Central and head coach Steve Jones to a 7-5 record and a first-round appearance of the Mississippi High School Athletic Association Class 6A playoffs ... Red Rebels won four of their last five games to secure the school's first trip to the state tournament since 2009 ... Named to the 2013 247Sports All-State All-Prospect Second-Team Defense as a defensive back ... Selected to the 2013 All-Gridiron Second Team by the Mississippi Gridiron ... Took part in the 10th Annual Max Emfinger All-American Bowl in January and received an invitation to play in the Texas vs. the World Game on Feb. 23, in Dallas ... A three-star recruit according to ESPN.com, Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports ... Rated as the 16th-best prospect in the state by ESPN.com ... On defense as a senior, tallied 61 tackles, three interceptions, seven pass breakups, one blocked field goal and one forced fumble ... Offensively during final campaign, registered five rushes for 68 yards and 11 receptions for 287 yards and three touchdowns ... As a return specialist, recorded four touchdowns on punt returns and ran back one kickoff 53 yards ... Sparked a Harrison Central comeback win versus Ocean Springs with an 81-yard punt return for a TD to turn a 14-3 deficit into an eventual 17-14 victory ... Knocked away the final pass of the contest to seal the victory ... Prior to senior year, was named one of the top performers at the New Level Athletics Space Coast Shootout in Rockledge, Fla. ... During junior year, booked 41 tackles with seven interceptions and five pass breakups ... Ran track for Harrison Central, participating in the 100-meter dash, 110-meter hurdles, 200-meter run, 300-meter hurdles, long jump and triple jump ... As a sophomore, placed fifth in the 110-meter hurdles at the Mississippi High School Athletic Association 6A state championship.
- ATH J.T. Gray (Clarksdale, Miss.; Clarksdale High School) 3-star from 247Sports.com, 6-foot, 196 pounds
HIGH SCHOOL: Played junior season at Coolidge High School in Ariz., before transferring to Clarksdale for senior campaign ... Grew up in the Magnolia State and came home for final season ... A three-star recruit by ESPN.com, Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports ... The 20th-best prospect in the state according to ESPN.com ... Played at Clarksdale for head coach Henry Johnson ... Team advanced to the second round of the Mississippi High School Athletic Association 5A state playoffs after a 38-21 victory against Ridgeland in the postseason opener ... Team fell to Callaway in the second round of the playoffs ... Named to the 2013 247Sports All-State All-Prospect First-Team Defense ... A member of The Clarion-Ledger's Targeted 22 ... Selected to take part in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic ... Earned Arizona Division IV Section II First-Team honors as a defensive back after junior season and second-team accolades as a running back in 2012 ... Played on both sides of the ball as a senior and recorded 58 tackles ... Offensively, rushed for 939 yards and 16 scores ... As a junior at Coolidge, tallied 60 carries for 914 yards and 15 scores while catching 10 passes for 117 yards and a TD ... Defensively, booked a team-leading 112 tackles (75 solo) and two interceptions ... On special teams, added a combined 271 yards on kickoff and punt returns ... As a freshman for Clarksdale, rushed 11 times for 42 yards ... On defense, intercepted one pass and returned it 15 yards ... Named the MVP of the Rivals Camp Series at Hamilton High School in March, 2013 ... Ran track for Coolidge and qualified for the state meet in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter run, high jump and long jump.
DT Grant Harris (Bolton, Miss.; Clinton High School) 3-star from 247Sports.com, 6-foot-3, 270 pounds
HIGH SCHOOL: One of the top defensive line prospects in the state of Mississippi ... A three-star selection by 247Sports, Rivals.com, ESPN.com and Scout.com ... Named to the 2013 Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen ... Became just the fourth Clinton player to be named Dandy Dozen and first since 2000 ... Possesses an 80-inch wingspan ... Notched 92 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, four sacks and two forced fumbles as a senior ... Racked up 71 tackles, six sacks and one forced fumble as a junior ... Coached by Judd Boswell.
TE Darrion Hutcherson (Dadeville, Ala.; Copiah-Lincoln CC) 3-star from 247Sports.com, 6-foot-7, 250 pounds
JUNIOR COLLEGE: Suited up at tight end for two years for head coach Glenn Davis at Copiah-Lincoln ... A three-star recruit according to Rivals.com and 247Sports ... Led Copiah-Lincoln to a 7-2 overall record in 2013 ... Part of an offense that averaged 432.9 yards a game, the 13th-best mark in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) ... Hauled in a season-high two passes for 20 yards against Pearl River on Oct. 12 ... Tallied a season-long 28-yard reception versus Hinds Community College on Sept. 19 ... During first year on campus, helped the Wolfpack finish 9-3 and claim the Mississippi Association of Community & Junior Colleges (MACJC) State Championship ... Played defensive end as a rookie.
HIGH SCHOOL: Attended Dadeville High School and played for head coach Richard White ... Was the 20th-ranked tight end nationally and 18th-best player from Alabama according to Rivals.com ... Ranked as the 14th-best player in Alabama by Scout.com ... The 13th-ranked tight end nationally and 14th-best prospect from Alabama on 247Sports' big board ... The 31st-best tight end nationally and the 25th-best recruit from Alabama according to ESPN.com ... Ranked 15th overall in Alabama by SuperPrep ... Ranked 12th on the Birmingham News' 2012 Super Seniors ... Member of the 4A Alabama Sports Writers Association All-State Team in senior season ... Selected to play in the 2012 Offense-Defense All-American Game following senior season ... Caught 31 passes for 550 yards and 6 touchdowns on offense while collecting 36 tackles (18 solo) including 2 sacks and 1 INT on defense in his senior season ... Guided the Tigers to a 12-1 record and trip to the Alabama High School Athletic Association 4A state tournament quarterfinals ... During junior campaign, tallied 57 tackles with 6.0 sacks ... Offensively, hauled in 14 passes for more than 400 yards ... Also played basketball for the Tigers
OL Deion Calhoun (Pleasant Grove, Ala.; Restoration Academy), 3-star from 247Sports.com, 6-foot-3, 325 pounds
HIGH SCHOOL: A two-way standout for Coach DeWayne Coker and the first Restoration Academy player ever to sign a Division I football scholarship . . . Rated the No. 46 overall prospect in Alabama by Scout.com, and the No. 7 offensive lineman in the state . . . Has played all three positions on the line during his career at some point . . . A first-team all-state recipient as a defensive lineman in the AISA by the Alabama Sports Writers Association . . . Selected by the AISA for the East-West All-Star Game as an offensive lineman, and he was named All-Metro first-team offensive lineman by the Birmingham News . . . Played a leading role in the Bulldogs' run to the AISA Class A championship game . . . Team out-scored opponents 546-88 for the season . . . Also saw some duty as a short-yardage running back and scored a touchdown in that role . . . As a junior, was the leading lineman on the Class A championship squad which only began playing 11-man football in 2004 . . . The 2012 squad posted a 13-1 record with their only loss to the eventual AAA state champions from Tuscaloosa Academy . . . His junior and senior teams posted a combined 25-3 record with consecutive Region 1 championships.
RB Aeris Williams (West Point, Miss., West Point High), 4-star from 247Sports.com, 6-foot-1, 200 pounds
HIGH SCHOOL: A four-star recruit according to ESPN.com, Scout.com and 247Sports and a three-star prospect by Yahoo.com ... A three-year starter for head coach Chris Chambless ... Ranked as the 42nd-best running back in the country and the 11th-best recruit in Mississippi by ESPN.com ... The Mississippi Association of Coaches 5A Offensive Player of the Year as a senior ... A 2013 Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen selection who was also a member of The Mississippi Press' Fantastic 15 list of the state's top collegiate football prospects at the beginning of senior season ... Became the fourth Dandy Dozen player from West Point, joining Chris Washington (1989), Chris Jefferson (1990) and Michael Carr (2009) ... Took part in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic ... A 2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl nominee ... Finished just shy of the 4,000-yard rushing mark (3,994 yards) in prep career ... Gained 1,697 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns on 265 carries during senior year ... Registered nine receptions for 85 yards and a score during final campaign ... Selected as the WCBI-TV Offensive Player of the Year following senior year ... Against Center Hill, rushed for 252 yards and four touchdowns (32, 27, five and 15 yards) to help Green Wave to 69-41 victory ... Rushed for 1,519 yards as a junior with five touchdowns on 268 carries ... Added six receptions for 77 yards in 2012 ... A Columbus Dispatch All-Area Second-Team honoree as a junior, when the Green Wave advanced to the MHSAA 5A state semifinals ... Versus Hernando in 49-14 victory, ran for 112 yards and three scores (four, 10 and 15 yards) ... During sophomore season, rushed for 778 yards on 129 carries and contributed 12 scores ... Hauled in 13 passes for 250 yards and a pair of TDs as a sophomore.
-8:15 a.m. UPDATE: The MSU signing class is now at 12 with the announcements of Petal WR Jesse Jackson and Clarksdale OL Elgton Jenkins.
- WR Jesse Jackson (Petal, Miss.; Petal High) - 3-star from 247Sports.com, 6-foot-2, 195 pounds
HIGH SCHOOL: A four-star recruit according to ESPN.com and checked in No. 129 on the ESPN300 list ... The fourth-best in-state prospect according to ESPN.com ... Selected to participate in the 2014 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game ... Played for head coach Marcus Boyles ... A three-star prospect according to Scout.com and 247Sports ... Slated at No. 4 on The Mississippi Press' Fantastic 15 list of the state's top collegiate football prospects at the beginning of the season ... A member of the MaxPreps 2013 Mississippi Preseason All-State Football Team ... Selected to the 2013 All-Gridiron First Team by the Mississippi Gridiron ... Named to the 2013 247Sports All-State All-Prospect Second-Team Offense ... Rated as the No. 27 wide receiver in the nation by the 247Sports Composite ... Finished the year as the No. 11 recruit in Mississippi according to Scout.com ... Helped Petal to a 10-3 record and a trip to the second round of the Mississippi High School Athletic Association Class 6A state playoffs ... Did not play entire senior season due to injury suffered during 42-7 win against Jim Hill ... Prior to injury, caught 22 passes for 332 yards and three touchdowns ... As a junior, hauled in 39 passes for 842 yards and 11 TDs ... Tallied 1,018 all-purpose yards as a junior after adding 176 yards on kickoff returns ... Contributed on defense with 17 tackles during junior campaign ... Transitioned from quarterback to wide receiver following freshman year ... Also played basketball as a freshman at Petal and played baseball as a freshman and sophomore.
- OL Elgton Jenkins (Clarksdale, Miss.; Clarksdale High) - 3-star from 247Sports.com, 6-foot-4, 283 pounds
HIGH SCHOOL: A three-star recruit according to 247Sports ... Rated as the 15th best prospect in Mississippi by 247Sports ... Was a high school teammate of fellow 2014 signee J.T. Gray as a senior ... Two are the first SEC prospects from Clarksdale since Charles Mitchell went to the NFL after four years at Mississippi State . . . Earned Second-Team 5A Mississippi Association of Coaches All-State honors as a senior ... Selected to play for the North Team as an offensive lineman in the Bernard Blackwell All-Star Football Game following final year ... Earned a place on the Mississippi High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) Region 1-5A First All-Region Team ... Played for head coach Henry Johnson and helped the Cougars to a 7-5 record in 2013 ... Team advanced to the second round of the MHSAA 5A state playoffs after a 38-21 victory against Ridgeland in the postseason opener ... Played on both sides of the line during final campaign . . . Collected19 tackles with 2.0 sacks in 2014.
- 8:00 a.m. UPDATE: The Mississippi State signing class has now reached 10 members with the announcement of Greenville-Weston LB Gerri Green.
- LB Gerri Green (Greenville, Miss; Greenville-Weston High) - 4-star from 247Sports.com - 6-foot-4, 221 pounds
HIGH SCHOOL: A four-star standout linebacker by 247Sports and Scout.com ... Ranked as the 12th-best prospect in the state by ESPN.com ... Played for head coach Shannon Williams' Greenville Weston Hornets ... Invited to participate in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Classic and Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl ... A member of The Mississippi Press' Fantastic 15 list of the state's top collegiate football prospects at the beginning of the 2013 season ... A 2013 Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen selection, just the second in school history joining Quentin Groves (2002) ... A member of the MaxPreps 2013 Mississippi Preseason All-State Football Team and the Mississippi Gridiron 2013 All-Gridiron First Team ... Named to the 2013 247Sports All-State All-Prospect First-Team Defense ... As a senior, tallied 98 tackles with 11.5 for lost yardage and 5.0 sacks ... Broke up seven passes, forced a trio of fumbles and recovered one during 2013 campaign ... On offense, made six catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns ... Selected as the MaxPreps Defensive Player of the Game following performances versus Clarksdale and Gentry ... During junior year, notched 89 tackles, four pass breakups, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles ... On offense, carried just eight times for 37 yards, but caught 10 passes for 172 yards and a pair of touchdowns as a tight end.
- 7:45 UPDATE: The Mississippi State signing class has now reached 9 members with the announcement of four new faxed National Letter of Intent agreements in the last 45 minutes.
- DB Brandon Bryant (Tunica, MS; Rosa Fort High School) - 3-star from 247Sports.com - 6-foot, 195 pounds
HIGH SCHOOL: A Mississippi High School Football Coaches Association First-Team Offense Class 4A selection as an athlete ... Made one of the biggest jumps on the Rivals.com board, going from an unranked safety to the No. 36 prospect during the 2013 campaign ... Rated as the No. 18 prospect in the state according to ESPN.com ... Named to the 2013 247Sports All-State All-Prospect Second-Team Defense as a defensive back ... As a senior, helped head coach Edwin Norwood and Rosa Fort to an 11-2 overall record and a 4A Region 2 title with a 5-0 mark ... Advanced to the third round of the MHSAA 4A state playoffs ... Anchor of a defensive unit that allowed just 16.4 points per game and posted one shutout ... In 2013, went 11-of-15 passing for 257 yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions ... Added 117 carries for 896 yards and 10 touchdowns as well as 22 receptions for 339 yards and two touchdowns ... Selected as the MaxPreps Rosa Fort Offensive Player of the Year following the 2013 campaign after accounting for 1,112 all-purpose yards and 1,237 total yards ... On defense recorded 37 tackles, two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), five pass breakups and one fumble forced ... Had one kickoff return for 91 yards and one touchdown ... Passed for 563 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 700 yards and three scores as a junior ... In 2012 season opener versus North Panola, rushed for 143 yards on 16 carries and threw a touchdown pass ... A high school teammate of current Bulldog Benardrick McKinney ... Uncle graduated from Mississippi State.
- DT Braxton Hoyett (Pelham, AL; Pelham High School), 3-star from 247Sports.com, 6-foot-3, 285 pounds
HIGH SCHOOL: A three-star recruit according to ESPN.com, Rivals.com and 247Sports ... The 30th-best prospect in Alabama, and the 84th-best defensive tackle in the country, according to ESPN.com ... Played for head coach Brett Burnett and helped the Panthers to a 6-5 overall record as a senior ... An AlabamaVarsity.com Super All-State Second Team selection and a Friday Night Fuel Team Alabama Defense pick ... Earned a spot in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic ... Made 73 tackles with 9.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks while adding one fumble recovery during senior year ... As a junior, booked 101 tackles with 15.0 TFL and 10.0 sacks ... Broke up three passes as a junior ... Ran track for Pelham and was the Shelby County champion in the shot put with a throw of 42-feet, 9.5 inches ... Second cousin is New York Giant Justin Tuck.
- RB Dontavian Lee (Hattiesburg, Miss.; Forrest County High), 3-star from 247Sports.com, 6-foot-1, 211 pounds
HIGH SCHOOL: A three-star recruit according to ESPN.com, Rivals.com and 247Sports for head coach Larry Dolan ... Earned a spot on the Mississippi High School Football Coaches Class 4A First-Team All-State Offense squad as a senior and the second team as a junior ... The 59th-best running back in the country according to Scout.com and rated as the 23rd-best prospect in the state by ESPN.com ... A member of the MaxPreps 2013 Mississippi Preseason All-State Football Team ... Named to the 2013 247Sports All-State All-Prospect Second-Team Offense ... Selected to the 2013 All-Gridiron Second Team by the Mississippi Gridiron ... Checked in at No. 17 in the Clarion-Ledger's Targeted 22 ... Took part in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Classic ... Carried Forrest County to the Mississippi High School Athletic Association 4A state championship with a 21-6 victory against Lafayette ... Title was the first in the history of the Aggie program, which finished the campaign with a 13-2 overall record and made its initial appearance in the state finals ... Team lost just one game to a 4A squad during the campaign ... In the championship game, rushed for 43 yards and had a key 15-yard touchdown reception that put the Aggies ahead 21-6 with 4:20 remaining in the third quarter ... In the state quarterfinal game versus St. Stanislaus, tallied 253 all-purpose yards, including 90 rushing and 128 receiving ... For the season, gained 1,590 yards rushing on 222 carries and registered 13 touchdowns while hauling in 29 passes for 432 yards and eight scores as a senior ... Defensively, tallied 43 tackles (31 solo stops), 5.0 tackles for lost yardage, 1.0 sack, four fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles as a linebacker ... Tallied a pair of defensive touchdowns with a fumble and interception return for TDs ... Returned 11 kickoffs for 250 yards ... Selected as the Nov. 19 WDAM Player of the Week for performance against Columbia in the state tournament ... Totaled 111 rushing yards, 22 receiving yards and two completions for 17 yards ... Added six tackles and an interception returned for a touchdown versus Columbia ... As a junior, carried the ball 138 times for 1,392 yards and 13 touchdowns ... Caught 17 passes for 301 yards and five scores while completing all six pass attempts for 76 yards and five TDs ... Earned Academy Sports and Outdoors Player of the Week for Sept. 20, 2012, after 307 rushing yards and two touchdowns against Purvis High School ... As a sophomore was named a Hattiesburg American All-Star ... Recorded 1,163 rushing yards on 167 carries and scored seven touchdowns ... Added nine receptions for 242 yards and four scores ... Also participates in basketball and track for Forrest County ... In track, runs the 100-meter dash and throws the shot put.
- CB Chris Rayford (Byhalia, Miss.; Byhalia High), 3-star from 247Sports.com, 6-foot, 182 pounds
HIGH SCHOOL: A three-star recruit according to 247Sports and Scout.com ... Helped Byhalia to a 4-8 overall mark and a trip to the second round of the Mississippi High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) Class 4A playoffs ... Played for head coach John Danley ... Earned a spot on the MHSFCA 4A First-Team All-State Defense ... A FOXMemphis All-Mid-South Team pick and an All-Gridiron Third Team selection by the Mississippi Gridiron prior to the start of the 2013 campaign ... A First-Team All-District honoree as a junior and a second-team selection following sophomore campaign ... Named to the 2013 247Sports All-State All-Prospect Second-Team Defense ... Battled through injuries, but still recorded 32 rushes for 324 yards and three touchdowns while adding a catch for 71 yards and a score ... On defense, booked 64 tackles, 6.0 hits for lost yardage, 2.0 sacks, three fumble recoveries (two returned for touchdowns) and two pass breakups ... Anchor of a defense that held opponents to 12 or fewer ... Ran track for the Indians and qualified for the 2013 state meet in the 100-meter relay, 400-meter relay and 100-meter dash ... Took fourth place at the North State meet in the 100-meter sprint as a junior.
- 7 a.m. UPDATE: Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen (http://twitter.com/coachdanmullen) is again using his Twitter page to announce the signings as the athletic department gets the faxed National Letters-of-Intent.
Here's who the Bulldogs currently have in the fold thanks to a high school product and a junior college player graduating early from their respected schools in order to be eligible for spring drills:
- QB Nick Fitzgerald (Richmond Hill, Ga.) - 2-star from 247Sports.com - 6-foot-5, 210 pounds
HIGH SCHOOL: A four-year letterwinner for head coach Lyman Guy who guided the Wildcats to a 10-2 overall record and the second round of the Georgia High School Association Class 5A State Football Championship as a senior ... Earned Honorable Mention Georgia Sports Writers Association and Atlanta Journal Constitution Class 5A All-State selections following senior year ... Named the Region 3-5A Player of the Year after final campaign ... A three-star recruit according to ESPN.com and 247Sports ... A triple-option quarterback who went 33-for-76 in the air, throwing for 778 yards and 12 touchdowns while tossing just three interceptions during final campaign ... Carried the ball 182 times for 1,429 yards and 25 scores in 2013 ... Lifted the Wildcats to opening-round playoff win over Thomas County Central with 150 rushing yards and both of the team's TDs ... Tabbed the WSAV Memorial Health/Chatham Orthopaedic Associates Blitz Performer of the Week and Enmark Player of the Week for the fourth week of the season after accounting for seven touchdowns against Glynn Academy ... Rushed for 162 yards and five scores and tossed two TD passes in the contest ... Named to the Greater Savannah Area Football Team as both a junior and senior ... Started as a wide receiver in 2012, catching 18 passes for 321 yards and four touchdowns ... Served as the backup quarterback to Air Force's Dominique Allen during junior campaign and tallied 334 yards rushing and six scores as part of the triple-option offense ... Helped the Wildcats go 8-3 and reach the state playoffs for the first time since 1996 as a junior, when he was a First-Team All-Region 3-5A selection ... Also named First Team All-County during after 2012 season ... Played three years of basketball for Richmond Hill, averaging 7.9 points per game and 5.8 rebounds a contest as a junior.
- OL Jocquell Johnson (Jackson, Copiah-Lincoln Community College) - 3-star from 247Sports.com - 6-foot-4, 308 pounds
JUNIOR COLLEGE: Suited up at left tackle for two years at Copiah-Lincoln for head coach Glenn Davis ... Started every game of two-year career ... A three-star recruit according to Scout.com and 247sports.com ... Became the first Copiah-Lincoln player to sign with MSU since offensive lineman Phillip Freeman in 2007 ... Led the Wolfpack to a 7-2 overall record in 2013 ... Helped the offense surpass the 40-point plateau four times as the Wolfpack averaged 33.7 points a contest ... Part of an offensive line that allowed the Wolfpack to average 432.9 yards a game, the 13th-highest total among NJCAA clubs ... During first year on campus, helped the Wolfpack finish 9-3 and claim the Mississippi Association of Community & Junior Colleges (MACJC) State Championship, the program's first since 1985, with a 41-37 victory over Gulf Coast ... Squad participated in the Mississippi Bowl and was ranked No. 14 in the final NJCAA poll.
HIGH SCHOOL: Attended Callaway High School and played for head coach Daryl Jones ... Took part in the 2011 Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Classic ... Named to the Mississippi Coaches Association 5A First Team All-State Team and the all-metro team in 2011 ... Helped the Chargers to playoff trips as a sophomore and junior ... Tallied 14 pancake blocks in a 20-0 shutout of Provine during junior campaign.
- 7:30 a.m. UPDATE: MSU has received three signed National Letter of Intents already:
- QB Elijah Staley (Marietta, Ga.) - 3-star from 247Sports.com - 6-foot-6, 213 pounds
HIGH SCHOOL: A four-star quarterback prospect by ESPN.com and a three-star prospect according to Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports ... The 18th-best quarterback in the country according to ESPN.com ... Played under head coach Mike Collins for three years ... Named one of MaxPreps/Reebok Top-25 Most Dynamic High School Athletes in July, 2013 ... A Marietta Daily Journal Dynamite Dozen selection prior to 2013 campaign ... An Honorable Mention All-Region 5-6A selection as a junior ... Played five games as a senior, completing 72-of-115 passes (62.6 percent) for 1,072 yards and 12 touchdowns ... Rushed for 102 yards and a pair of scores during final campaign ... Prior to final campaign, took part in the Elite 11 Atlanta Camp, where he received instruction from former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer ... Threw for 1,801 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior, taking the Wildcats back to the playoffs for the first time in six years ... Added five more rushing scores during junior campaign ... Lifted the squad to the playoffs with 183 passing yards in playoff-berth clinching win against Cherokee in the season finals ... As a sophomore, completed 40 percent of passes for 833 yards and four touchdowns ... Suited up for the Wheeler basketball team and was a Class 6A First-Team All-State selection by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Georgia Sportswriters Association as a junior, averaging 18.0 points and 9.5 rebounds per game ... Helped the Wildcats and head coach Doug Lipscomb to the state semifinals and 21-9 overall record in hoops ... Scored 40 points, pulled down 18 rebounds and dished out seven assists against Etowah during the 2012-13 season ... Played for the AAU Team Southern Stampede ... A member of the Wheeler track and field program, competing in the triple jump, 100-meter dash, 200-meter race and 4x100-meter relay team.
- PK Logan Cooke (Columbia, Miss., Columbia Academy) - 2-star from 247Sports.com - 6-5, 200, Kokomo, Miss. (Columbia Academy)
HIGH SCHOOL: One of the top punters in the nation, who was selected to play in the 2014 Offense-Defense All-American Bowl and the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools' All-State Football Game ... Played for coach Kenny Williams at Columbia Academy and took on wide receiver and defensive back roles in addition to punting duties ... Named a 2013 Preseason Fourth-Team All-American by Chris Sailer Kicking ... Rated by ESPN.com as the 13th-best punter in the nation ... A 2013 247Sports All-State All-Prospect First-Team Defense selection ... A member of the MaxPreps 2013 Mississippi Preseason All-State Football Team ... A three-star recruit according to ESPN.com, Scout.com and 247Sports ... Selected to the 2013 All-Gridiron Second Team by the Mississippi Gridiron and was a Second-Team All-Area honoree by the Hattiesburg American following final campaign ... In 2013, booted 19-of-22 kickoffs for touchbacks (86.4 percent) ... Tallied 24 punts for an average of 44.2 yards per boot ... Went 8-of-11 on extra points and 1-for-3 on field goals ... Also served as a wide receiver, hauling in 14 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns ... As a junior in 2012, boomed 48 kickoffs with 41 touchbacks (85.4 percent) ... Recorded 17 kickoffs for 70 or more yards (35.4 percent) and averaged 66.4 yards a boot ... Went 36-for-39 on PATs and 2-for-6 on field goals ... Set Columbia Academy school records for points in a season by a kicker (42) and points in a career by a kicker (83) ... During sophomore year, averaged 58 yards a kickoffs, went 20-for-23 on PATs and two-of-six on field goals ... Punted 31 times for a 35-yard average ... Served as the vice president of high school's Fellowship of Christian Athletes group.
- ATH Jamoral Graham (Decatur, Miss., Newton County) - 4-star from 247Sports.com - 5-foot-11, 180 pounds - Graham could be a option at either wide receiver or safety once he arrives on the MSU campus.
HIGH SCHOOL: An elite four-star athlete for head coach Jackie Williamson at Newton County High School ... Rated by ESPN.com as the third-best prospect in the state and at No. 119 on the ESPN300 ... Cited by ESPN.com as having exceptional versatility, speed, ball skills and playmaking ability ... A 2013 Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen honoree, the first ever from Newton County ... Selected to participate in the 2013 All-Gridiron First Team by the Mississippi Gridiron ... Chosen to play in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic, but did not take part in the contest due to injury ... Earned spots in the a Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl and Army All-American games ... A member of the MaxPreps 2013 Mississippi Preseason All-State Football Team ... Named to the 2013 247Sports All-State All-Prospect Third-Team Offense as an athlete ... Has been clocked at 4.42 in the 40-yard dash ... Helped the Cougars score 263 points, an average of 26.3 per game as a senior ... During final campaign, tallied 52 rushes for 421 yards and five touchdowns as well as seven receptions for 91 yards and one TD ... Returned three punt returns for 79 yards and a score ... On defense, picked up 38 tackles (26 solos), 3.0 tackles for lost yardage, three sacks, four pass breakups and one forced fumble ... Filled in at quarterback in the fifth week of the campaign, completed 6-of-9 passes for 75 yards and one touchdown while rushing for 103 yards and three scores in a 33-10 win against West Lauderdale ... In the second week of the season, caught five passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns in the second quarter alone versus Choctaw Central ... Named the top performer at the Steve Robertson's annual Southern Select combine prior to senior season ... During junior year, accounted for 1,430 all-purpose yards and caught 24 passes for 464 yards, averaging 19.3 yards per catch ... Rushed for 495 yards as a junior ... Finished with a team-best 12 touchdowns, 11 coming on the offensive side of the ball ... Defensively, chipped in with 21 hits, seven pass breakups and one interception ... Earned a place on the U.S. Air Force 2010 Freshman All-American Team as an athlete after averaging 34.1 yards per punt return ... Ran track for the Cougars, competing in the 100 and 200-meter dashes as well as the 4x200-meter relay ... Placed third in the 100-meter dash at the 2011 state championship meet ... Helped the 4x200-meter unit to a second-place finish at the state meet.
Also...MSU coach Dan Mullen will address the media regarding the 2014 signing class at 3 p.m. from the Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex. Fans are encouraged to attend and admission is free.
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
4. Community Calendar for the week of March 9, 2014 ENTERTAINMENT
5. Percussion ensemble releases debut CD ENTERTAINMENT