Needful Things

It is said that the true measure of a recruiting class cannot be truly appreciated until their contributions on the field can be appreciated. In order to get to that point, a staff must recruit to a standard and look for players that fit into the framework of that program's needs. With the 2014 Bulldog signing class now in the books, let us take a look to see if the staff got what they were after.


Since Dan Mullen's arrival, quarterback recruiting has been hit or miss.

Three of the signed signal callers under Mullen are no longer or never arrived on campus, Dylan Favre, Nick Schuessler and Cord Sandberg.

The attrition at the quarterback position meant the the 2013 Bulldog roster would contain just three scholarship quarterbacks with one, Damian Williams, joining the squad as a true freshman.

As fate would have it, all three quarterbacks saw action as starters at various points in the season.

With Tyler Russell leaving Starkville with his name all over the Bulldog record books, the coaching staff had to recruit a suitable replacement as well as an up and comer to help balance the depth chart at quarterback for seasons to come.

Richmond Hill signal caller Nick Fitzgerald was actually the first quarterback commitment in the 2014 class, though his announcement was held a few days.

Another Georgia peach of a passer, Elijah Staley, chose the Bulldogs after a previous pledge to Vanderbilt and Coach James Franklin.

With Dan Mullen set to announce his new hire to mentor the Bulldog quarterbacks, the chairs in the QB room will now be filled with returner starter Dak Prescott, Arkansas overtime hero Damian Williams and a pair of talented freshmen in Fitzgerald and Staley.

Running Backs

The Bulldogs entered the season with just one senior running back in LaDarius Perkins.

The Bulldogs set their sites on the top two running back prospects in the Magnolia state in Dontavian Lee and Aeris Williams.

Both made pre-season pledges to the Bulldogs and then went on to impressive senior seasons.

Lee led Forrest County AHS to a state championship and Williams was tabbed as Mississippi's Mr. Football.

Sophomore Bulldog back Derrick Milton made a post season decision to transfer to McNeese State in his home state of Louisiana.

Milton's departure coupled with Perkins' four years now complete, provides room for the two incoming signees to have room on the roster without crowding the depth chart at running back.

Wide Receiver

While the Bulldogs expect to return their entire depth chart at receiver for the 2014 season, a pair of in state passing targets were simply too good to pass on.

Four star and Semper Fidelis All-American Jamoral Graham and Under Armour All-American Jesse Jackson were two of the state's top three receiving prospects.

The 2014 Bulldog roster will feature three senior wide outs in Jeremey Chappelle, Robert Johnson and Jameon Lewis.

The signings of Jackson and Graham will provide a bit of cushion to prevent the freshmen of 2015 from being forced into early action.

Jackson is nursing a surgically repaired knee back to health, so a redshirt year is probable in 2014.

While Graham has been nicked up at times as a senior, he appears to be no worse for wear heading into the business end of an important spring semester academically.

Graham's speed and shiftiness could make him a candidate for play as a true frosh, but a redshirt year to allow him some time to mature more physically appears to be a decent option.

Tight End

The Bulldogs' tight end grouping is an interesting lot that returns three seniors in 2014.

Rising junior Rufus Warren may slide over one slot and play offensive tackle before his Bulldog days are done.

While not necessarily a priority in the class with no outgoing seniors at the position, the State staff did elect a tight end in former Auburn signee Darrion Hutcherson.

The Bulldogs will look to sign a tight end or two in 2015, but with Hutcherson's arrival the selection process for the future can be a little less urgent.

Offensive line

Three scholarship sled pushers have moved on from Starkville, so the departing numbers demand a trio of young replacements to keep balance within the unit.

Four high school big men were inked earlier this week in Deion Calhoun, Ronald Cochran, Jordan Harris and Elgton Jenkins.

There is the possibility that Cochran may elect to delay his enrollment until January of 2015, but that remains a matter for discussion at a later date.

Harris will likely head to a junior college program for two years with designs on signing again with the Bulldogs in December of 2015.

Jocquell Johnson signed in December and is currently enrolled in Starkville looking to compete in spring practice for a starting role at right tackle.

The net change numbers wise with the offensive line is effectively a wash if things go as expected.

Offensive line boss John Hevesy faces the loss of five familiar faces after the 2014 season, so the big uglies will be a priority in the 2015 recruiting efforts.

The signing of Cochran this February will provide the veteran coach at least one bullet in the proverbial chamber as he considers his plans for replacements in the 2015 signing class.

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

Defensive line

Coach David Turner had to replace two out going seniors and a transfer spot opened up with Quay Evans leaving the program.

The first order of business was to find a pass rushing threat to contribute this season.

Turner appears to have found his man in Tyler, Texas standout Will Coleman who comes to Starkville after a strong stint at Tyler Junior College.

Grant Harris will cut his teeth at defensive end, but will likely slide inside as he grows and adds mass.

Alabama All-Stars Braxton Hoyett and Cory Thomas will come in and battle for early playing time.

Heading into the the summer, Turner will have one more name to account for on his depth chart, but with four seniors moving on at the conclusion of the 2014 season, the decision to strike while the talent irons were hot appears to have been a prudent one.


Coach Geoff Collins hit the road hard and came up Aces with four star stud Gerri Green and Georgia native Deshon Cooper.

Veteran backer Deontae Skinner finished up an impressive Bulldog career as winner in the Liberty Bowl.

Memphis product Ferlando Bohanna had his playing career cut short due to medical issues.

The Bulldogs were on the trail for a trio of long, lean and athletic linebackers early on, but made an adjustment in recruiting focus when needs appeared more urgent at other positions.

Defensive backs

The lone senior DB for the Bulldogs was Egg Bowl hero Nickoe Whitley.

Another roster spot appears to be opening with talk of 2013 signee Gabe Myles potentially making the move to offense.

The 2014 signing class revealed four names on signing day in Brandon Bryant, Lashard Durr and J.T. Gray and Chris Rayford .

Durr is likely headed to junior college and there is talk of Dee Arrington making the move from safety to linebacker, so the roster math appears to work for fall participation for the remaining newcomers in the defensive backfield.


Baker Swedenburg exhausted his college eligibility this fall as the only Bulldog with more tenure in Starkville than head coach Dan Mullen.

Swedenburg's roster spot will be filled by All-American Logan Cooke will come in and compete immediately in all kicking disciplines.

A redshirt year has been discussed, but if Cooke can do the job in year one, he will play as a true freshman.

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