Chris Brooks -

Mississippi State is expected to be a major player in the mid-year enrollment period in December,

Mississippi State signed 18 players in the 2016 signing class this past February. The Bulldogs are well under the annual scholarship limit of 25 for the current year. With a pair of junior college players signing last December, the Bulldogs could approach double digit JuCo inkings before we turn the calendar over to 2017.

Coach Dan Mullen and his staff have been very active when it comes to junior college players this recruiting cycle. Over two dozen two year recruits claim an offer from the Bulldogs. While many of theses prospects are products of the Mississippi junior college system, the Bulldogs are casting a pretty wide net to fill their current needs.

Offensive tackle Elliot Baker of the College of San Francisco was one of the first big men to report a scholarship tender from the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs currently hold the verbal pledge of Co-Lin offensive lineman Tommy Champion. Champion enrolled with the Wolfpack a year ago and is now poised for a big season in Wesson.

Speaking of Co-Lin, look for the Bulldogs to be firmly in the mix with defensive tackle Deion Pope. Pope, a Collins, Mississippi native, was a candidate for a spot in the Bulldog class before he had to withdraw from school during the spring semester. Now back on track, Pope is in contention once again for a roster spot with the Bulldogs.

Mississippi State has one scholarship junior defensive lineman on the 2016 roster and that is former Co-Lin star Tre' Brown who enrolled earlier this year. The Bulldog front wall is comprised of some war seasoned veterans and some talented youngsters eager for their own experience. 

Expect State to spend more than a couple of spots to balance the roster and bring in some talented reinforcements who can serve as a stop gap, while the underclassmen develop.

Former LSU signee Travonte Valentine has found a home at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Mississippi State has inquired about his services and has informed the staff in Perkinston that an in person evaluation will take place later this spring.

Valentine's linemate Isaiah Buggs holds double digit options including one from Mississippi State. The Bulldogs will be looking to add some pass rushers in the class. Newly hired defensive line coach Brian Baker is expected to graduate most of his two deep at the defensive end positions, so new bodies are a must.

A defensive line prospect with some ties to Mississippi State, Lee Autry of Itawamba Community College, has taken a liking to the folks in Starkville. Autry's older brother, Denico Autry, has passed along an encouraging word or two about wearing the Maroon and White.

"My brother told me that it would be pretty nice if I followed in his footsteps and went to Mississippi State," the younger Autry said. "I went to watch them practice and I talked with Coach Mullen. He talked to me about committing, but I told him that I wanted to talk with my family first.

"Mississippi State is definitely the front runner right now. I am probably going to make a decision in the next couple of weeks. I want to talk with my family and then see how it goes."

The Bulldogs recruited Autry very hard as he finished up his prep career in Albermarle, North Carolina There is some familiarity there and Autry believes that he could have a bright future in Starkville.

"I already know a lot of people over there," Autry shared. "I like it over there and I know that Mississippi State is the kind of program that can get you to the next level just like my brother did. It's SEC football, so you're playing against the best."

Mississippi State has also offered Northeast Mississippi Community College standout Anthony Rush. In fact, the Bulldogs were the first school to extend an offer to the Cary, North Carolina product. While Rush is expected to add several more offer between now and signing day, the Bulldogs are setting the recruiting pace at this point.

While the Bulldogs have committed most of their efforts towards the 2017 signing class, they are still in the hunt for a prospect who could make an impact this fall. Holmes Community College defensive lineman Josiah Coatney. Coatney recently took an unofficial visit to Starkville and it appears that a return trip is now on the calendar.

"Things went really well at Mississippi State," Coatney said. "I got to meet with the coaches and watch them practice. I am planning to take an official visit there now. We are working all of that out right now.

"I have already been to South Carolina. I am going to Ole Miss at the end of the month. I am planning to visit Florida and Mississippi State too."

While Coatney has been rumored to be leaning to certain schools in recent weeks, the talented defensive tackle reports that he is trying to keep an open mind before making a decision.

"I am going to wait until I take these trips before I make a decision," Coatney explained. "I have everybody even right now. I just want to see what everyone has to offer ad I want to be sure where I fit in before I make a decision."

Coatney is on track to graduate from Holmes this spring and enroll at the school of his choice in time for summer school and summer workouts. The Douglasville, Georgia native reports that depth charts, style of play and relationships with players and coaches will be an important part of his deliberations.

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