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Depth chart released for opener: Here's defensive breakdown

 

MSU DL Nick James

MSU DL Nick James Photo by: MSU Media Relations

 

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DEFENSE 

 

DE 

 

48 Ryan Brown 6-6, 262 Jr. 

 

94 Nelson Adams 6-3, 300 So. 

 

While Brown, who posted 13 tackles and 2.5 sacks as a sophomore, has been entrenched in MSU's 4-man defensive end rotation since the beginning of camp, Adams is a surprise here. After seeing his playing time increase through his freshman year, Adams has emerged as a candidate for playing time at DE. 

 

 

 

DT 

 

93 P.J. Jones 6-3, 296 Sr. 

 

96 Chris Jones 6-5, 308 So. 

 

The older Jones, P.J., is finally healthy. The younger Jones, Chris, is one of the most disruptive talents in college football and a preseason All-American according to SI.com. This is one case that points out that opening-week depth charts might not always be gospel. 

 

 

 

DT 

 

92 Kaleb Eulls 6-4, 295 Sr. 

 

98 Curtis Virges 6-3, 312 Sr. 

 

Or 

 

88 Nick James 6-5, 325 So. 

 

James has been the talk of camp, both good and bad, on the defensive line. His teammates have raved about the former 4-star prospect from Long Beach while DL coach David Turner says "He is a work in progress." Still, seeing the ultra-talented James listed alongside steady senior Curtis Virges as the primary backup has to be encouraging for MSU fans. 

 

 

 

DE 

 

91 Preston Smith 6-6, 270 Sr. 

 

47 A.J. Jefferson 6-3, 270 So. 

 

Along with QB and MLB, this was one of the easiest positions on the field to project. Smith led MSU in sacks with 6.5 as a junior while Jefferson, a sophomore, has been praised by teammates as one of the team's hardest-working players. 

 

 

 

LB 

 

22 Matt Wells 6-2, 220 Sr. 

 

14 Zach Jackson 6-2, 210 Jr. 

 

Steady as she goes, Wells enters his season as one of MSU's most reliable defenders with 120 career tackles 13.5 tackles for loss. Jackson is a former high school safety who has played in all 26 games of his two-year career. 

 

 

 

LB 

 

50 Benardrick McKinney 6-5, 249 Jr. 

 

39 Richie Brown 6-2, 235 So. 

 

Like Prescott, McKinney is the unquestioned leader of the MSU defense and he enters with plenty of preseason hype. On preseason watch lists for multiple defensive awards, McKinney is the heart and soul of the MSU defense. Brown, a sophomore from Long Beach, might be in line to inherit McKinney's spot and accolades when the former Rosa Fort Lion goes pro. Brown finished his redshirt freshman season with 38 tackles, three for loss. 

 

 

 

LB 

 

42 Beniquez Brown 6-1, 235 So. 

 

44 Christian Holmes 6-1, 230 Sr. 

 

More interesting in this spot might be which player is not listed. While Holmes, a senior, is listed on the roster at tight end, RS freshman linebacker Dez Harris, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound McKinney clone, has been lauded by coaches and players for his ability and is looked upon as MSU's future at the position. His emerging on the depth chart is likely a matter of when, not if. 

 

 

 

CB  

 

5 Jamerson Love 5-10, 175 Sr. 

 

2 Will Redmond 6-0, 185 Jr. 

 

Love is listed as the No. 8 CB in the SEC by ESPN.com and Redmond, a former 4-star prospect, is finally truly unleashed after losing the first 18 games of his career due to an NCAA violation. According to CBs coach Deshea Townsend, Redmond is primed for a breakout. 

 

 

 

 

 

SS 

 

3 Jay Hughes 5-11, 195 Sr. 

 

26 Kendrick Market 5-10, 188 Jr. 

 

Hughes returns after losing a season to a ruptured achilles suffered in last year's season opener. Market, a junior from South Panola High School, saw increased playing time in the absence of Hughes and produced, finishing third on the team in tackles. 

 

 

 

FS 

 

9 Justin Cox 6-3, 192 Sr. 

 

11 Kivon Coman 6-3, 195 So. 

 

Cox, a former All-America performer as a safety at East Mississippi Community College, returns to his natural position after a year at cornerback. As a corner, Cox registered one interception in 2013. As a safety, he delivered 11 picks in two years at Scooba. 

 

 

 

CB 

 

23 Taveze Calhoun 6-1, 184 Jr. 

 

31 Tolando Cleveland 6-0, 180 So. 

 

Calhoun progressed as well as any MSU defender in 2013. Starting the season off as an unknown, the Morton native had improved to become one of the SEC's best by the end of the year, evidenced by an ESPN.com ranking that lists him as the No. 2 CB in the SEC. Cleveland played in 12 games as a true freshman. 

 

 

 

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