The Burning Questions

The sprint to the finish is now upon us. While national signing day is just a few days away, Mississippi State still has several irons in the recruiting fire. Heading into the final weekend, the Bulldogs have seven official visitors lined up, but some of the final pieces of the MSU recruiting puzzle have already been on campus earlier in the process. What must MSU do to close out the class strong?

Will Tee Shepard sign with Mississippi State and will the Bulldogs be able to get him in school?

Shepard named Mississippi State as his leader during the 2013 season, but it appeared that the four star corner may drop off of the grid and re-enter the talent pool as a member of the 2015 signing class.

Once Shepard learned that his path to major college football would be made easier by returning to Holmes Community College for the spring semester, the talented corner left his native California for a few more months in Goodman, Mississippi.

Heading into the weekend, Shepard reports that Mississippi State is the top school on his list, but he has not ruled out delaying his signing and taking more official visits should things not go as hoped in Starkville this weekend.

Things look promising for Mississippi State right now as Shepard reports that Bulldog assistant David Turner has remained in touch him throughout the process and made him feel like a priority.

The school that signs Shepard will have to be patient with him as he navigates through a spring semester and a couple of summer school sessions to earn the credits needed to qualify for fall enrollment.

Will the Bulldogs add another offensive lineman to the class?

State loses three scholarship lineman from a season ago including All-American Gabe Jackson.

Mid-year transfer Jocquell Johnson has already enrolled and is preparing to compete this spring for the starting spot vacated by senior Charles Siddoway.

The Bulldogs currently have offensive guard prospect Deion Calhoun committed along with a verbal pledge from offensive tackle Jordan Harris.

Just looking at the returning roster, it appears that Coach Dan Mullen and his staff will have the numbers on signing day to replace the outgoing seniors, but another big man in the class would certainly help the cause going forward.

The leading candidate for a late spot in the class is Clarksdale big man Elgton Jenkins.

Jenkins was selected All-State by the Mississippi Association of Coaches and selected to participate in the Bernard Blackwell All-Star classic at the conclusion of his senior year.

At 6-5, 270, Jenkins has college level size and the raw ability to be a solid four year prospect.

Jenkins holds a handful of offers with Temple being his most recent tender.

Mississippi State could be the offer Jenkins elects to accept should one come his way, but chances are we may not know if that opportunity will present itself until after the talented guard returns home to Clarksdale on Sunday.

See what other Bulldog fans have to say on the recruiting forum.

How do the defensive line prospects shake out?

The answer to this question will likely tell the tale of the Bulldogs' recruiting close for 2014.

A handful of names are still in contention for what appears to be two or three spots on Bulldog defensive line boss David Turner's depth chart.

At this point, it appears that Clinton High School three star defensive lineman Grant Harris will be part of the class come next Wednesday.

Who joins him remains to be seen.

Four star defensive tackle Marcus Griffin visits this weekend, but the Bulldogs appear to be chasing Cal at this point.

Dallas, Texas defensive end Trey Carter garners four star recognition and it appears that the Bulldogs remain in the mix.

Carter took an official visit to Mississippi State back during November when the Bulldogs battled then #1 Alabama.

The Bulldogs were at the top of Carter's list when he returned to Dallas, but a visit to Stillwater, Oklahoma netted Mike Gundy and his staff a big commitment from Carter as well as a win over Baylor.

Despite Carter's commitment, Mississippi State has continued to pursue the explosive pass rusher.

Cory Thomas was a long time lean to Mississippi State, but the Alabama three star made a surprise about face by favoring and eventually committing to Tennessee after an unofficial visit to Knoxville.

Thomas took an official visit to Starkville last week, but it does not appear that the Bulldogs got the bounce they may have been hoping for.

While MSU remains a finalist along with Clemson and Tennessee, Thomas continues to keep everyone guessing.

Bossier City, Louisiana three star defensive tackle O.J. Smith has re-emerged as a Bulldog target despite being committed to Alabama.

Smith was leaning the Bulldogs' way, before committing to the Crimson Tide on the spot once an offer was extended.

The north Louisiana standout plans to visit Mississippi State this weekend and make a final decision about his college future next week before inking with the school of his choice on Wednesday.

Will the numbers work for J.T. Gray?

J.T. Gray has been clear with all who will listen for the past two months.

Gray wants to play at Mississippi State.

As the puzzle pieces appear to be falling into place elsewhere, Gray's situation remains a little murky.

Gray visits MSU this weekend
Defensive back is not necessarily a position of need at this point in the recruiting cycle, but Gray could simply be too good to pass on.

With the return of Tee Shepard to the radar, is there a situation where the Bulldogs decide that both Shepard and Gray are worthy of inclusion in the class despite needs at other positions?

Or perhaps does the door open wider for Gray should Trey Carter, O.J. Smith and Cory Thomas honor their previous commitments to other schools?

Is there a possibility that good friend and teammate Elgton Jenkins becomes more of a priority in the class with the recent decisions of Sean Rawlings and Jervontius Stallings to go elsewhere?

Earlier this week, Gray reported that he would love to leave Starkville as a Bulldog commitment.

Clarksdale High head coach Henry Johnson stated that he felt good about Gray's prospects after meeting with Coach Dan Mullen earlier this week.

In order to get a clear answer on Gray, the Bulldogs will likely have to see the traffic clear with some other targets before making the final move forward to secure his commitment.

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