Newcomers Make Impact on 2007 Gridiron

The 2007 signing class was heralded as Sylvester Croom's best signing class to date. After one regular season, it appears the highly touted class may be better than advertised.

Twenty-six Bulldog players were new to the scholarship rolls this football season. Top prep running back Robert Elliot and 2006 Gatorade Player of the Year, Derek Sherrod, led the bumper crop.

The expectations for this class were very high. While many of the incoming freshman were allowed to redshirt, a dozen newcomers were able to use a year of their eligibility and help the Bulldogs earn a berth in the 49th annual Liberty Bowl.

On the offensive side of the ball, no newcomer made more of an impact than All-SEC Freshman quarterback Wesley Carroll.

Carroll competed 53.2% of his passes for 1,353 yards and nine touchdowns passes. Wes started eight games and led the team to wins over nationally ranked Kentucky, Alabama and instate rival Ole Miss.

The South Florida product became just the second Bulldog quarterback to earn All-SEC Freshman honors. Fan favorite Matt Wyatt was the first MSU signal caller to win the award back in 1996.

Joining Wes on the depth chart at quarterback was JuCo transfer Josh Riddell. Riddell came to Starkville with an impressive resume from the junior college ranks and with a reputation of making plays down the field.

Riddell played in just three games due to a season ending knee injury against South Carolina. During limited action, Josh completed 18 of 37 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns.

JuCo standout Co-Eric Riley played in eleven games this season in a reserve role. Riley nabbed eight passes for 68 yards and returned six kickoffs for 126 yards.

True freshman Derek Sherrod played in 11 games this season earning his first action against Tulane. Derek quickly found a spot in the rotation at right tackle with senior J.D. Hamilton.

There would be few who would disagree that linebacker Dominic Douglas was a major addition to the Bulldogs defensive unit.

A year removed from leading all Mississippi junior college players in tackles, Douglas finished second on the Bulldog team this season with 74 tackles including eight tackles for loss and a quarterback sack.

Joining Douglas as a play maker, was fellow JuCo transfer Jasper O'Quinn. Jasper played eleven games and made five starts. Jasper recorded 35 tackles, two pass break-ups and an interception.

O'Quinn was also solid in his time as a gunner on the punt coverage team.

Junior college All-American Jessie Bowman provided immediate help to a defensive line that had been depleted due to gradation.

Bowman made eight starts of the eleven games he saw action. The talented defensive tackle made 23 tackles, 3.5 of which were for a loss.

Jimmie Holmes quickly became a fan favorite with his penchant for making the big play. Holmes played in 10 games in a backup capacity, but he made his snaps count. Jimmie recorded 19 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, two recovered fumbles and one forced fumble.

Four Bulldog true freshman were able to get their paws wet this season on defense and safety Zach Smith led the way with most snaps played among them.

Zach saw action in eleven games including the season opener against LSU. Smith had 17 tackles and two pass break-ups. Zach made some key tackles on special teams in wins over Alabama and Ole Miss.

Linebacker K.J. Wright began to see some snaps after the first few weeks of action. The Olive Branch product played in nine games and recorded seven tackles and recovered one fumble on the season. Wright will be counted on heavily in 2008.

Defensive tackle LaMarcus Williams played in ten games and earned his first collegiate start in one of those. Williams spent a lot of time working on the Bulldog's third down package and he recorded two tackles on the season.

Karlin Brown saw action on special teams in five games. He recorded one tackle.

Fourteen other players from the 2007 class were able to redshirt and will look to make on the field contributions next season. Those players are Damein Andeson, Wade Bonner, Robert Elliot, Marcus Green, Jamie Jones, Terrell Johnson, Addison Lawrence, D.J. Looney, Dakota Merritt, Chris Nance*, Chris Relf, Eric Richards, Quentin Saulsberry and Ethan Stockett.

* Chris Nance did see action early in the season, but Chris struggled with injuries all season and was red shirted.


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