Graduation and injury have left the tight end roster dangerously depleted with only scholarship veteran on-hand for spring training. Fortunately a pair of players are arriving at this position just in time.
Actually Dontea Jones was due to be on the roster in 2015 as a February signee. Eligibility issues delayed his enrolling, though in the long run likely have aided his maturing.
Jones played at Louisville High School, and before a shoulder injury ended his senior season early he had caught 34 balls for three touchdowns and 537 yards. He starred on the 2013 undefeated state 3A championship team with 11 touchdowns out of 43 receptions and 774 yards.
Christian Roberson by contrast comes straight out of high school, and a semester early at that. The Powder Springs, Ga., product is the 11th-best tight end prospect in the South by Scout.com and #35 in the nation. Playing for McEachern High, he had a summer combine timing of 4.73 in the 40-yard dash. He also used summer to make his MSU commitment with the goal of early enrollment. He is listed at 6-5, 230 pounds in recruiting profiles.
Spring defensive line depth gets deeper on the interior with Ackerman native Tre Brown making the short drive to Starkville. Like Durr, he took the detour to play for Coach Davis at Copiah-Lincoln’s successful program. Listed in juco at 6-4, 270, he was the #40 defensive tackle prospect in the nation by Scout.com and #69 overall at every position. As a sophomore he was credited with 27 tackles, 20 of those solo tackles, while he forced one fumble and broke up a pair of passes.
Brown played high school ball at Choctaw County HS. If State fans wish to draw comparisons to another big-time Bulldog interior lineman who came from a small high school program, well, Brown would love to take Chris Jones’ open position.
Bulldog fans are familiar already with Lashard Durr, who signed with Mullen’s program in February 2014 out of Harrison Central HS in Gulfport. Even then it was expected Durr would go the junior college route first, and he has successfully completed that phase of his career both on the field and in the classroom. He had 61 tackles as an all-state senior at HCHS and took turns on offense at receiver, back, and return man. He also ran track in sprints, hurdles, and jumps. Playing for Coach Glen Davis at Copiah-Lincoln he was a cornerback standout ranked top-ten nationally by one analyst and the #52 juco prospect overall by Scout.com.
In the 2015 season Durr recorded 32 tackles, 30 of them solo stops, while breaking up 11 passes. Now Durr is expected to compete, immediately, for either of the open spots at cornerback. The newer name of the pair is C.J. Morgan-Walker. He’s a high school cornerback from Parkway High in Bossier City, La. With a verified 4.55 time in the 40-yard dash, he is rated #71 among all cornerback prospects in the country and #25 in the South. Though, there is some thought at his current size he might grow into more of a safety-type body.
Morgan-Walker ended his prep career playing in the Semper Fidelis Bowl in early January, before enrolling early at State.
The full practice schedule for Coach Dan Mullen’s eighth spring at Mississippi State has not been announced. The end date is known though with the annual Maroon-White Game on April 16.