Mullen Evaluates The Incoming 2011 Bulldogs

In yesterday's first of two reports on Mississippi State's off-season, Coach Dan Mullen set the topic and record aright by noting that for all intents and purposes there is almost no off-season for Bulldog football. A slight exaggeration of course, as State coaches did get a week off after Signing Day to rest from recruiting and recharge for spring training which begins next Friday.

In today's part-two Dan Mullen, after a couple of weeks for more relaxed reviewing of the recruiting campaign, provides some greater in-depth evaluations of the 22 individuals who signed-on with Mississippi State for 2011 and beyond.

Dee Arrington, DB -- "He's a really good football player for us, that's one of the things we look for. He played quarterback, played running back, receiver, defensive back, linebacker; he played all over the field and does everything for his team. That's one of the traits we look for, we figure those are the guys that are going to be successful at the next level. I'm really excited about him, and he really fits the program. His personality, his demeanor, his toughness."

Taveze Calhoun, ATH -- "Taveze is an interesting guy. He's one of those guys that you've got to really follow through recruiting, and we kind of recruited him all along. He was in camp, not really a big-name guy, he had a real good senior year and has good tape. Everyone in school loves him. He's another guy you watch on film playing corner, playing safety, running back, quarterback. And really he stood out at the Mississippi-Alabama All Star Game. It shows you really have to recruit all the way through Signing Day."

Justin Cox, DB -- "Justin is a player who led his team to two state championships at quarterback, and that's a lot in itself. He's another guy who plays a lot of different positions. When you look at good high school teams, and obviously West Point is not good, it's a great program, they put their best players in position to make plays. And that's what they did with Justin. I think he's a guy who has the potential to help us right away."

Devin Fosselman, WR -- "Devin did everything in recruiting the right way. He's a good student, salutatorian in his class, he's a great competitor. We told him we like you on film but there are a lot of receivers and we don't have many spots; we have to have you come compete. He comes to camp and just does an unbelievable job, he beats everybody. H goes to that Mississippi-Alabama game and people talk about what a great competitor he is. And he was one of the top two receivers for the Mississippi team. He has the work ethic, the demeanor, the character that we look for."

John Harris, DL -- "John is an interesting guy for us. His family is from Greenville so he had some ties here to Mississippi. He's a guy we were on early in a large part because of those ties. He has a huge advantage because he was able to graduate high school early. He's already put on 25 pounds and so he is going to have an opportunity to play."

Zachary Jackson, DB -- "He does it all. He's a tough guy, his demeanor and attitude towards things is fantastic. He fits our mold. He came to camp and was always asking how can I get extra workouts; that to me is the persona that we look for, guys that want to compete and work to be the best. He is the poster child of that."

P.J. Jones, DL -- "He's the top-ranked defensive tackle in the state and one of the highest ranked players in the state of Mississippi. But you know what? P.J. did everything right in recruiting, he took everything in and managed it; he never let recruiting get to him in all the hype. He looked at where he best fit in and where the best place was for him and wasn't attracted by any of the other things. And that's one thing that I really like about him, not just as a football player but in how he handled the whole process. He was P.J. at the beginning and he's P.J. today. He went where he fit in the best."

Daniel Knox, OL -- "Daniel is a guy we recruited early. He's one of those tough guys that fits in with the attitude we like. A lot of guys in his position fall for the line that ‘oh yeah, we're going to recruit you as a tight end' and then the day he walks in he has a #70 jersey in the locker! Daniel is a guy we told early even though some schools were telling him different that you're going to grow into an offensive lineman. He said Coach, I appreciate the honesty, I agree with you on that. Every time he came up here he came as an offensive lineman, so he has that potential. He's 6-5 and probably in the mid-260s now when I talk to him. So the transition is not going to be hard for him."

James Maiden, DL -- "He's a guy that has really shaped his body. He came to camp kind of heavy and wasn't running great, then lost all this weight to play the season. Now he's putting the weight back on the right way. So we're really excited about James. He'll play defensive line for us, a lot of recruiters were thinking he's a d-lineman that will grow into an offensive lineman. He has worked really hard on changing his body to look like a defensive lineman so that's where we're going to start him. He has the opportunity and size and strength to make an impact right away."

Justin Malone, OL -- "Talk about a do-everything guy, hey may need him on our basketball team! It's interesting, a guy that's only played two years of football, but go try to find a 6-5, 320-pound athlete. And that's what he is. He's going to have the adjustment of what football is in the SEC, but he has the demeanor and attitude and he certainly has the ability to get the job done."

Kendrick Market, WR – "He's very, very intriguing. I remember watching him as a junior, and he just stands out while the game is being played. He's a guy you get in camp and is not real big, not real fast, but when the game is being played he looks like the fastest guy on the field and he makes all the plays, makes all the tackles. Talk to people and they say they felt he was their team MVP, and that's who you want. Hopefully we can say the same thing here one day, when we win our national championship that he's our MVP! He just has that ‘it' on the football field. I went to a game his senior year and watched him play corner, safety, special teams, quarterback, running back, on a team that won the national title. He does it all and that's what you look for."

Benardrick McKinney, LB -- "I think Benardrick might be one of the bigger surprises. He's another guy that does it all, the quarterback/linebacker on his high school team. At 6-4, 215 he comes in looking today like K.J. Wright, except the fact K.J. is leaving today! So he has a lot of potential and we feel can be great player for us down the road."

Derek Milton, RB -- "It's interesting that you think Derek is a ‘physical' back. He has a change of direction, a slashing style, has the size and speed that we like. He has a tremendous attitude of hard work. He stood out at Hargrave and has played against some really good competition. So he's going to be ready to go."

Joe Morrow, WR -- "Joe is the true wide receiver, not a slot guy. He's out there one-on-one. He's got great speed, he has great size. In our evaluation he was the top wide receiver in the state of Mississippi this year. And he was the number-one priority for us at the wide receiver position. We're thrilled to have him on, he's a guy we're hoping has the opportunity to come in and play right away. It will be the physical transition of getting used to the speed of the game, but he has all the skills. And he's played in a good league, he stood out in all-star games, and made a lot of plays."

Shaquille Perry, RB -- "Shaquille right now is probably going to have to go to junior college. But he's another small-school guy that did it all. And we've had some success with those. If Shaq qualifies it will be a great thing, but he's a guy that I know we want. Hopefully he sees the motivation in front of him to get here as fast as he can. If not in September, then in a year-and-a-half."

Dak Prescott, QB -- "The hardest thing in evaluating a quarterback is watching film you can't see any ‘it'. At that position there's so much more involved in being successful. Just his demeanor, how he carried himself. He came to the first camp last summer and did a good job and we told him that. He said Coach, I don't want to do a good job, I want to do a great job. So he came back to the second camp and dominated. And he just had that ‘it' on the field, he's a winner. And the great thing about him getting here early is he's going to have the opportunity to compete."

Nick Redmond, OL -- "It's great for Nick to get in early, especially an offensive lineman with the development process. Because when you look at 17-year-old kids that are as big as he is, they're still growing into their bodies. They need to go through the off-season conditioning and the agilities to learn how to move his body that way. Very much like Blaine Clausell had that opportunity to do that last year. It's a huge advantage so it's great for him to be here."

Josh Robinson, RB -- "I look at his numbers and he put up big numbers, but you have to watch him on film to see he didn't get the ball often. One of his games he touched the ball and scored three times, so he was never tackled! The interesting thing with Josh is he looks like that smaller scatback, but he weighed in at 215 on his visit. He is a power back that ran one of the fastest 40 times that we had at our camp this year. So he's got it all. Get him here, get him developed, and get him ready to play."

Darius Slay, DB/KR -- "Darius did everything right to get here. I guess he's what we look for in recruiting, a guy we signed out of high school and didn't make it; and we monitored throughout the past two years to get him here. That is critical to me."

Preston Smith, DL -- "Where he played, he's used to playing big-time football and used to high expectations. He's used to work. He still has a lot of growth potential, he is a big kid that will hopefully fall in love with Coach (Matt) Balis. Because if he doesn't, he still doesn't have a choice! He's got the size, and he's one of those guys that has the potential to come in and blow up. I remember a couple of years ago Fletcher Cox walked on the campus at 250 and by September he was 290 and playing inside. He has the potential to put on some serious size and is a true rush end with that speed coming off the edge."

Joey Trapp, OL -- "With the guys that have left and guys that have had a bunch of injuries, we're nervous with the middle ground of our offensive line. I like where our youth is, I like our senior class; it's that middle class that you want to add the depth to. So we kind of scoured the nation and found a guy that fit, and it was a mid-year guy that could develop and fit the program. John Hevesy went out three days driving around California looking at all the different kid and he was the one that fit what we wanted. He's already put on 15 pounds since he's been here and will go through spring, which you really need as a J.C. player. I don't know what he is until we get the pads on and see, but he's probably a center or tackle. He has the athletic ability to play center or tackle."

Rufus Warren, TE -- "We're really excited about Rufus. We needed an athletic tight end who creates mismatch problems which is what we want out of that position. He has the size that makes it tough to match a defensive back on him, and the speed to be a mismatch against linebackers. And if you put a bigger defensive back in he'll beat you in the running game. That's the kind of player we look for at tight end."

Gene's Page Top Stories