The Mississippi State Bulldogs closed the book on their spring practice season with last weekend’s Maroon-White spring game in Starkville.

The Bulldogs are looking to repeat last season’s 10-win run, but they have a ton of departed talent to replace and now must pursue the 10-win mark with a bullseye on their collective back.

RELATED: Mississippi State top 5 spring practice priorities

In an effort to project what we might see from Mississippi State come the fall, we’re taking a look back at how the Dawgs addressed our suggested priorities for the spring season.


Addressed?: Yes.

Wilson, the team’s top receiver a year ago, was limited during the early portion of the spring after he was arrested for marijuana possession while visiting his hometown in Alabama during Mississippi State’s spring break. However, he eventually returned to the field and wasted no time reasserting himself as the team’s top weapon on offense.

He led all Bulldogs in receiving in last weekend’s Maroon-White spring game in Starkville, catching five balls for 92 yards and a touchdown for the Maroon team (which lost 28-24). Prescott looked as sharp as he did during his high points last season, connecting on 20 of 29 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. Both stars look as dangerous as they did a year ago, which is a good sign for an MSU offense in transition.


Addressed?: Yes.

There’s still room for improvement, but the Bulldogs defense looked to be in rhythm during the spring game despite the shift in leadership and the departures of a number of key starters from 2014.

Gerri Green, a rising sophomore linebacker, was among the biggest surprises in the Maroon-White game, and he now appears to be a candidate to add depth at the linebacker position behind Beniquez Brown upon the departure of possible first-round pick Benardrick McKinney. He had one of three interceptions on the day between the two teams and he laid a few nice hits as well.

A.J. Jefferson, a first-time starter at defensive end, had the hardest hit of the day and showed he can bring power and physicality to the line, which should benefit both he and returning starter Chris Jones.

Former rotational player turned starting safety Kivon Coman led all players with 6.5 tackles, and converted cornerback Jamoral Graham logged five tackles to show he’s coming along in his transition. J.T. Gray, one of the team’s top freshman from a year ago, made six tackles in addition to a pass breakup, and five different players recorded a sack.

The unit as a whole is still developing chemistry, but it appears the depth Geoff Collins built during his years in Starkville is paying off. Individuals stepping into key roles for the first time played well to end the spring, and if they can maintain that level of play heading into the fall it will benefit a young MSU roster in a major way.


Addressed?: Yes.

The Bulldogs top 20 recruiting class featured eight early enrollees, and for the most part those players looked to be on par with most of MSU’s returning players by the end of the spring.

The team’s top early enrollee, junior college wideout transfer Donald Gray, had three catches for 57 yards and a touchdown in the spring game, including two catches of 20 yards or more. Gray is seen as a threat to take the top off a defense and stretch the field, which is why is 19 yards per catch average is reason for such excitement.

Malik Dear, a four-star athlete, didn’t record a touch in the spring game but was productive at both the tailback and wideout positions throughout the spring. In a intrasquad scrimmage at practice earlier this month he caught seven passes as a receiver, and with his athleticism he’s a player the Bulldogs can use in a number of ways this season.

Deddrick Thomas, another athlete signee from this year’s class, tied for the team lead with five catches last weekend, although he only amassed 30 yards on those catches, an average of 6 yards per reception. He has upside in the offense, but showed less this spring than Dear or Gray.

On the defensive side of the ball, Jonathan Calvin proved himself to be a pass-rushing force for the Bulldogs throughout the spring. He failed to log a sack or quarterback hurry in the spring game, but he had three sacks and a forced fumble in a scrimmage earlier this spring. With the Bulldogs’ lack of depth along the defensive line after losing three starters from a year ago, Calvin has a great chance to earn regular playing time this fall, especially in obvious passing situations provided he doesn’t regress as a pass rusher between now and September.


Addressed?: Yes and no.

The Bulldogs lost more than half their starters on both sides of the ball after last season, leaving a number of holes to be filled by new starters. Some candidates to rise into the starting lineup proved their worth during the spring; others did not, leaving a few holes still vacant heading into the back-half of the offseason.

Aeris Williams, Dontavian Lee and Ashton Shumpert all shined at different times in sharing tailback duties, and because of their varying skill sets they may all find a role on the offense this fall. Wideouts like Fred Ross, Fred Brown, Joe Morrow and Gray showed the team can maintain versatility at the position without Jameon Lewis; defensive backs like Gray, Koman, Deontay Evans and Graham all looked like players capable of starting down the line, and guys like Jefferson and Ryan Brown showed the defensive line won’t lack physicality after losing Preston Smith, Kaleb Eulls and P.J. Jones.

However, the new starters on the offensive line showed inconsistencies throughout the spring after replacing three starters from a year ago. To some extent, those inconsistencies are the result of a lack of chemistry as a unit and not due to a lack of individual abilities; but players like Jamaal Clayborn, who is playing center for the first time as a college athlete, still have work to do before the season arrives.

Prescott was “sacked” (he wore a no contact uniform) three times during the spring game despite his athleticism and running abilities. This doesn’t warrant panic in Starkville, but it does indicate that the newcomers up front have work still to do.


Addressed?: Yes, with a caveat

Mississippi State discovered that it has the tools to maintain a stout rushing attack, pending the development of the offensive line. Williams and Lee, both relative newcomers in the lineup, combined to rush for 84 yards on 17 carries in the spring game, an average of nearly 5 yards per carry. Shumpert, the team’s power back, will also add experience and a unique style in the backfield to keep opposing defenses off balance.

Prescott is a fantastic runner at the quarterback position, and whoever works well in tandem with Prescott in the run game will likely earn more playing time as a result. Ultimately, MSU has a few different options in the backfield, and even if it lacks one player capable of replacing Josh Robinson, it has depth at the position to duplicate last season’s numbers in the ground game.