Mississippi State football: 5 biggest transfer portal needs for 2023
Mississippi State’s record-setting quarterback still has eligibility remaining.
The 2 running backs who form a really good tandem also have eligibility remaining.
So do a bunch of productive receivers and several experienced offensive linemen.
So does the record-setting cornerback and several of his defensive teammates of note.
The Bulldogs should feel good about the nucleus of players on this 8-4 team that they can expect to return for 2023.
But there is work to be done — work to replace the key players who don’t have any more eligibility, as well as to expand the number of really good players on hand so that next season’s team is better than this season’s, which was 4-4 in the SEC.
Thanks to the transfer portal, it’s easy to find not just help but immediate help.
Here are State’s 5 biggest transfer portal needs for 2023:
Last offseason, head coach Mike Leach brought in 2 graduates — Massimo Biscardi (Coastal Carolina) and Ben Raybon (Northern Colorado) — to try to improve the worst kicking game in the SEC. The improvement was minimal.
The Bulldogs still need a significant upgrade in their field goals and extra points. That improvement isn’t coming from the current roster.
And that’s not a project that is best entrusted to true freshmen.
Leach will be keeping a watchful eye on the portal for a kicker (or 2) who has proven to be dependable at the CFB level. It’s about time that he had one of those.
4. Offensive line
State is expected to return 3 starters on a line that held up pretty well this season.
But in order to have not only an SEC-caliber starting unit but a deep rotation that can withstand injuries and other absences over the course of a grueling season, the Bulldogs will need to bring in a couple of ready-to-play offensive linemen.
Everybody wants those, so the competition will be strong.
3. Defensive line
The defensive line had a solid, deep rotation that was especially effective in the Egg Bowl victory against Ole Miss.
But if State is going to have as good — or better — a rotation next season, it will need help from the transfer portal.
Some newcomers are going to have to come in physically ready to compete in the SEC, so the Bulldogs can withstand the departure of contributors such as Cameron Young, Jordan Davis and Jaden Crumedy.
It’s tough enough to replace Nathaniel Watson. It’s tough enough to replace Tyrus Wheat.
But replacing both of them at the same time is really tough.
It helps to still have Jett Johnson. And understudies, and perhaps even a trio of 3-star freshman recruits who have committed, should be able to help.
But at least 1 linebacker who already has proven himself at the college level would really help.
1. Wide receiver
State has a lot of experienced receivers coming back, but this is the position that has to be the deepest in Leach’s scheme.
And he has been lamenting the absence of 1 clear-cut leader at the position, as well as the overall lack of toughness within the group. And that was before the loss of his top touchdown producer (Caleb Ducking) and 1 of his most dependable players (Austin Williams).
Leach has 3 wide receivers among the commitments in his freshman class, and they might help fill out the depth chart.
But ideally, Leach would like to find someone capable of replicating what Makai Polk did after arriving from Cal a couple of years ago. At the very least, he’d like to find a couple of confident, tough-minded pass-catchers.