5 best returning players: Mississippi State
There is little argument that senior QB Dak Prescott is the best player in Mississippi State history. He will be missed in 2016.
In the last few days, the Bulldogs have also lost two juniors to the NFL Draft – DL Chris Jones and WR De’Runnya Wilson.
But despite the losses, the Bulldogs have lots of talent coming back next season.
Here are the five best returning players for Mississippi State:
5. DE A.J. Jefferson – Without Jones, Jefferson will have to step up and be the leader of the defensive line. Statistically, the junior was better than his departed teammate, but Jones ate up blockers at defensive tackle. Jefferson might have to do the same for his younger teammates.
Jefferson had 39 total tackles, including 11.5 tackles for loss and 5 sacks in 2015.
4. DB Brandon Bryant – Mississippi State will lose three senior leaders in the secondary, but two suffered major injuries that kept them from playing after October. Bryant, a true freshman, filled the void and appears to be the best up-and-coming player in the Bulldogs defensive backfield.
Bryant picked off a pass in the Belk Bowl and led the team with three interceptions this season. He also had 59 total tackles, three pass defenses, 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble.
3. WR Fred Ross – Ross and Wilson were poised to be quite a receiving duo in 2016 before Wilson decided to enter the draft.
Although Wilson is the bigger deep threat and might make a better pro, Ross is a more frequent target. Ross set a school record with 88 receptions and became the first Mississippi State receiver to reach 1,000 yards since 1978.
It might be hard to repeat those numbers without Prescott and Wilson, but Ross is the best player remaining for the Bulldogs offense.
2. LB Beniquez Brown – Mississippi State will count on its veteran linebackers to carry the defense, and sometimes the team, in 2016.
Brown finished second on the team with 93 total tackles. He also had 10 tackles for loss, four sacks, two pass defenses and one interception.
1. LB Richie Brown — Former defensive coordinator Geoff Collins used to call Beniquez Brown and Richie Brown the “Brown Brothers.”
Though not related, the Browns enter the offseason as the best two returning players. Richie Brown led the team with 98 total tackles, including 10.5 for loss. He also led the squad with 5.5 sacks.
The “Brown Brothers” will be counted upon early in 2016 while the offense adjusts to a new quarterback.