October 16, 2013 8:49:24 PM
Matthew Stevens - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- The focus for Mississippi State's remaining spots to the 2014 football recruiting class will be the defensive line.
Even with the verbal commitments of Greenville-Weston's Gerri Green, Pelham, Ala., native Braxton Hoyett and Oxford defensive end Darius Liggins, the Bulldogs aren't satisfied with the haul to help the front four.
"I think when you look at the landscape of what this Mississippi State is trying to do, it's going to be all about defensive line," 247Sports.com Mississippi State editor Paul Jones said. "You look at some of the kids that are going to wait until February and they're all on the defensive line. It's so hard to protect how this will play out in recruiting but this really has shaped up like you'd have to expect with a sprinkling of four-star guys and a lot of three star guys."
Jones suggested MSU will be aggressive in trying to get three-star defensive end Corey Thomas from McCalla, Ala., Clinton's defensive end Grant Harris and Callaway High School defensive tackle Breeland Speaks.
"You're talking about the Thomas kid that has seven offers from Southeastern Conference schools already and so these three kids are certainly not diamonds in the rough that people don't know about," Jones said.
247Sports.com ranked Mississippi State in the national Top 30 for the first time in months after four-star Petal High School wide receiver Jesse Jackson gave a verbal commitment to the Bulldogs last week. Jones said with Mississippi prospects being traditionally underrated, the MSU class could look powerful three years after these players arrive on the Starkville campus.
"I have always believed Mississippi kids get underrated because of the coaching and lack of people being able to see them play all the time except for the in-state schools," Jones said.
MSU coach Dan Mullen's decision to bring back defensive line coach David Turner to the program has reinvigorated the recruiting push with lineman from both Mississippi and Georgia.
""I've been doing this for 28 years and kids today are coming in faster and stronger every year," Turner said. "With that being said, I expect kids to come in thinking they'll play and force me to find a way to put them in that first game."
Turner was in charge of the defensive line at MSU from 2007-09 after being initially hired by Sylvester Croom in 2007 and then being one of the few coaches kept by Mullen when arrived for his first season with the Bulldogs. Turner then went to go work for Joker Phillips at Kentucky where he established recruiting contacts at Georgia at Kentucky.
Turner's contacts in the Peach State could be more than useful as MSU was able to land Georgia prospects in three-star quarterback Elijah Staley, three-star linebacker Deshon Cooper, three-star quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and three-star offensive lineman Jordan Harris.
"You're talking about a guy in David Turner that's been effective so quickly in recruiting because he knew the lay of the land here," Jones said. "When you're talking about establishing relationships with
MSU's current defensive line needs the help as the Bulldogs rank tied for 11 in the Southeastern Conference in sacks with just eight in six games. MSU would like to move freshman Chris Jones back to his natural position of defensive end by the beginning of next season.
"He's a freak and we honestly believe he can effectively play at a weight that is around 300 pounds at defensive end this season," Mississippi State defensive coordinator Geoff Collins said. "He's still athletic and can physically move at that weight so we're not concerned."
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