Mississippi State signed 19 players for its 2016 recruiting class, which ranked 11th in the SEC and 28th nationally. The Bulldogs got hot near the end of last season, winning the Egg Bowl and the St. Petersburg Bowl.
But how much did last year’s recruiting class have to do with the team’s 6-7 record?
Five of the 19 enrollees played at least one game.
Those five players participated in a combined 70 games, starting 10. Lashard Durr (7 games) and Jeffrey Simmons (3 games) both made starts in their debut seasons.
On a unit that featured seven upperclassmen in the starting lineup for the bowl game, there wasn’t much room for new blood on offense.
Jamal Couch caught 8 passes for 113 yards and junior college transfer Jordan Thomas hauled in 9 for 48 yards and a touchdown.
Durr, a junior college transfer; and Simmons, the top-rated recruit in the class, were both key contributors.
Durr had 26 tackles and a pass break-up from his cornerback spot. Simmons wound up with 39 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. Marquiss Spencer also had 17 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and a sack.
Redshirts and defections
With only 10 starters back from last year’s team, there should be plenty of chances for this group to make its mark in 2017.
It’s safe to say that Mississippi State’s 2016 recruiting class doesn’t bear much blame for the Bulldogs’ 2-5 start last fall — or much credit for the late-season surge that got the Bulldogs into a bowl game.
This season, Simmons and Spencer should be anchors on the defensive line while Durr will compete for time at corner. Jones and Erroll Thompson also figure to be factors sooner rather than later.
Mullen signed 9 junior college transfers and welcomed four more early enrollees this spring. Those players and last year’s newcomers could produce a youthful depth chart for the Bulldogs in 2017.