Mississippi State started spring practice last week, and things are well underway around the SEC. Thirteen of 14 teams have started spring practice, with Kentucky bringing up the rear in starting Friday.
Dan Mullen has to be giddy this spring; he has his best team returning, and one of the biggest offensive weapons in Dak Prescott in his back pocket. State should have their best team during the Mullen era and a schedule that’s conducive for winning.
Here are five Bulldogs who will see their roles dramatically increase in 2014:
Beniquez Brown, LB (rSO)
2013 stats: 39 tackles, 4.5 TFL
Buzz: With the defense’s second leading tackler Deontae Skinner graduated, Beniquez Brown is the player who stands to benefit the most. He played well last season for a redshirt freshman, and Brown should solidify the linebacking corps consisting of Benardrick McKinney and Matthew Wells, along with Ferlando Bohanna. This unit is underrated and will hit you with a bad attitude.
Jamaal Clayborn, OL (SO)
Buzz: Replacing Gabe Jackson won’t be easy, but Jamaal Clayborn showed last year he’ll be a major asset. With three returning offensive line starters, Clayborn should help fill out an underrated unit. The Mississippi native is a great looking prospect who will play on Sundays, and I fully anticipate he’ll play a major role in 2014.
Chris Jones, DT (SO)
2013 stats: 32 tackles, 7 TFL, 3 sacks, 10 QB hurries
Buzz: Jones is a terrific talent, and he wasn’t even a starter last year. Mississippi State wants Jones to develop into the best interior defensive lineman in college football; he’s that good. He’s a rare talent who has everything he needs to become an All-American. And Geoff Collins will rely on Jones to take over games along the defensive line in 2014.
Dak Prescott, QB (JR)
2013 stats: 2,769 total yards, 23 touchdowns
Buzz: Prescott has the southeast buzzing about his 2014 potential. Once Dan Mullen finally tabbed Prescott as his offensive leader, the offense started to have an identity. Prescott is a physical runner who proved he could make big plays through the air. He did complete less than 59 percent of his passes, and this spring will be altogether crucial for Prescott’s development. I love his game and his upside; Dan Mullen does, too.
Josh Robinson, RB (JR)
2013 stats: 78 carries, 459 yards, 3 TDs
Buzz: Although LaDarius Perkins received most of the ink, Josh Robinson was the better overall back. He averaged nearly six yards per carry, and he has a knack for finding the crease and hitting it. With Perkins now gone, Robinson should get many more touches, and the Prescott-Robinson backfield duo could be lethal.
Photo Credit: Spruce Derden‚ÄìUSA TODAY Sports