Dezmond Harris Photo by: MSU Media Relations
August 7, 2014 12:51:52 PM
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen enters his sixth season with talent and depth across the board. That means playing freshmen in key spots will be a luxury and not a necessity for Mullen, though these 10 could be prime candidates to break through and earn playing time.
1. Dezmond Harris
A 6-foot-4, 230-pound former high school quarterback from McAlla, Alabama, Harris has drawn rave reviews from teammates and coaches during spring and fall practice. With a redshirt year under his belt, Harris will join a stocked MSU linebacker corps this season and could project as a possible replacement for All-SEC linebacker Benardrick McKinney down the road.
"We are going to be good at linebacker, and Dez Harris is a very good young player," said MSU sophomore LB Richie Brown.
2. Aeris Williams
Mississippi's Mr. Football in 2013, Williams rushed for 3,994 yards during his prep career at West Point High. Listed at 6-1, 200, Williams possesses the combination of size and speed that could force early playing time.
3. Gerri Green
Another possible replacement for McKinney at the linebacker spot, Green, like Harris, has prototypical size at 6-4, 221, and could join the MSU LB rotation this season. But after suffering an ACL injury during his senior season at Greenville-Weston High, Green could also be in line for a redshirt season. Despite the injury, Green posted 98 tackles and five sacks as a senior.
4. Gabe Myles
Another redshirt freshman, Myles worked his way into being listed as No. 2 on the depth chart at slot WR behind senior Jameon Lewis in the spring, and his strong offseason work has continued in fall camp. A quarterback during his prep days at Starkville High, Myles led the Yellow Jackets to the 2012 Class 5A state championship, passing for 1,153 yards and 12 touchdowns while rushing for 554 yards and nine scores.
5. Logan Cooke
While a clear role isn't defined yet for Cooke, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound kicker/punter out of Columbia Academy, the kicking game has been a point of emphasis for MSU's coaching staff this fall. If punter Devon Bell and kicker Evan Sobiesk falter, Cooke could be waiting in the wings.
6. Jamoral Graham
Another possible playmaker at slot WR, Graham, a true freshman from Newton County High School, could also see time returning kicks and punts. Graham was rated by ESPN.com as the No. 3 prospect in the state and was listed as a four-star prospect on 247sports.com.
7. Rashun Dixon
The oldest player on this list by five years, Dixon arrives at MSU after six years of minor league baseball. After originally signing with the Bulldogs in 2008, Dixon opted to sign with the Oakland Athletics, the organization that picked him in the 10th round of the MLB Draft. Now back on the gridiron, the younger brother of MSU great Anthony Dixon is listed as a tight end at 6-1, 210, but has the versatility to project to multiple positions.
8. Jahmere Irvin-Sills
A three-star prospect out of Elkton, Maryland, in the class of 2013, Irvin-Sills redshirted a season ago. This year, the 5-10, 175-pounder should see time in a crowded MSU cornerbacks rotation and definitely figures into future plans behind junior Taveze Calhoun and senior Jamerson Love.
9/10: Nick Fitzgerald/Elijah Staley
The top two spots at quarterback are likely locked up, as starter Dak Prescott and backup Damian Williams return. But that leaves the No. 3 spot, which is where Williams resided last year until being called into action against Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss last season. Fitzgerald and Staley, a pair of Georgia high school products, will each compete for the role. Fitzgerald, From Richmond Hill, Georgia, rushed 182 times for 1,429 yards and 25 TDs as a senior while Staley, at 6-7, 225, passed for 1,072 yards and 12 TDs in five games at Marietta-Wheeler.