Joe Moorhead expects Mississippi State's JUCO signees to come in and contribute immediately
Many questioned just how well Joe Moorhead and his Mississippi State staff would adapt and recruit in the South, considering the makeup of his staff was largely new to the SEC but after signing back-to-back top 25 classes, those concerns appear unwarranted in Starkville.
Moorhead’s MSU program has more than held its own on the recruiting trail and now the Bulldog coach seems to understand just how valuable it is to coach in a state with a rich tradition of junior college football.
Two positions the Bulldogs hit hard in the 2020 signing class when it comes to junior college talent were two of the biggest positions of need on the field — receiver and defensive end. According to Moorhead, those players were targeted not only because of their talent but due to the fact they are expected to see the field immediately next fall in Starkville.
“That’s what I’m kinda getting used to – the fact that you have the junior college system at your disposal here and you can come find kids that have played at the college level and are ready to step in and contribute immediately,” Moorhead said during his Early Signing Day press conference. “I think that’s been a great benefit to us. I think you’ve seen a good balance because I don’t think you can take all junior college players because there’s a part of building a program that you need to have a certain amount of high school players and junior college players – I think there has to be a good balance between high school and junior college players.”
One of those players signed by MSU is four-star defensive end Jordan Davis, the No. 4 overall JUCO prospect in the nation and a former Alabama signee. Don’t be surprised if he starts next season for Bob Shoops’ defense while one name die-hard MSU fans know very well is receiver Malik Heath.
Formerly rated as the No. 1 prospect in the state of Mississippi during his prep career, Heath has finally made his way to Starkville after signing with the Bulldogs out of high school and now once again out of Copiah-Lincoln Community College.
According to Moorhead, Heath, the No. 2-rated JUCO receiver in the nation and Caleb Ducking, the No. 8-rated JUCO receiver in the nation, are both expected to play a role next season in his offense.
“Both of those guys in terms of, you look at other teams in the SEC and what they play with and the physical attributes and the size and the speed and the skill level of outside receivers who have had a ton of success in this league, and I think both Malik and Caleb both check off all of those boxes,” the Mississippi State coach noted. “I think you kinda look at them – Caleb is 6-5, 200-pounds and runs a sub-4.5. He may need a little bit more development and seasoning.
“At South Delta, I think he was a 1,200-yard receiver coming out of high school, had a ton of touchdowns, a little bit lower level of football then he went to Holmes Community College where they run the triple [option]. So, we’re excited to get him in to develop him. I think he can definitely play one of the outside receiver positions, and Malik is a guy who has all the tools, all the talent. He’s just going to have to come in, compete, work and learn the system. Certainly, two guys when you talk about continuing to work on the improvement, explosiveness and the efficiency of the passing game that can come in and make an immediate impact.”
Once again, Moorhead noted his expectation that these players will come in and contribute next season on the field. He’s not hiding from that statement and while it may cause the expectations to rise in Starkville next season, that’s likely the way Moorhead wants it given all the hype the other team in the state is receiving after their coaching hire.