Mississippi State football: Rankings Bulldogs' top 10 players
Mississippi State has been a bit difficult to figure out so far this season.
The Bulldogs are 3-1, but the Kansas State loss was curious, and they haven’t exactly hit their stride. The bounce-back win against Kentucky was critical, however, especially with Auburn heading to town this weekend.
Who has played well? Who has played better than that? Through 4 games, here are the Bulldogs’ top 10 performers.
10. Safety C.J. Morgan
The defensive back from Bossier City, La., has been a bright spot for Bob Shoop’s defense, totaling 28 tackles. He’s also grabbed an interception and has 3 pass breakups. His biggest contribution doesn’t show up in the stat books. His leadership has been paramount on a defense that lost both defensive backs Mark McLaurin and Johnathan Abram from a year ago.
9. Quarterback Tommy Stevens
Stevens started hot, but has been slowed by a shoulder injury. The hope is he can return healthy. If that happens, Stevens was on pace to break a lot of records.
Against Louisiana, Stevens threw for 236 yards and 2 touchdowns. As it stands, his season stats are 36-of-55 for 441 yards and 5 touchdowns. The notable stat is the 2 interceptions against Kansas State, where he had limited action and was relieved by Garrett Shrader.
8. Quarterback Garrett Shrader
Coach Joe Moorhead has the future at QB right before his eyes. The question remains, will he continue look to Stevens, the grad transfer, or just toss the ball to Shrader the rest of the way?
He has a point to do just that. Shrader has been really good, throwing for 302 yards, his biggest game coming against Kentucky. The freshman threw for 180 yards and ran for 125 yards and gives Moorhead another element to his offense.
Against the Wildcats, Shrader was 17-of-22 throwing the ball. That is really impressive.
7. Cornerback Cameron Dantzler
A leader in the secondary, Dantzler broken up 4 passes and grabbed 1 interception. Totaling 13 tackles, Dantzler has been a staple in the back half of the defense.
6. Punter Tucker Day
Not only is Day one of the best punters in the conference, he’s one of the best in the nation. He’s averaging 44.5 yards per punt, which ranks 5th in the SEC and 31st nationally. The best stat could be he has pinned the opponent inside the 20-yard line 5 times. Against Southern Miss and Kentucky, he averaged over 49.0 yards per punt. He is indeed a weapon, with his longest coming against Southern Miss with a 59-yard blast.
5. Safety Jaquarius Landrews
A JUCO transfer, Landrews has been a bright spot. He leads the team with 31 tackles; 20 of them are solo stops. His open-field tackling ability is critical because it’s an area the Bulldogs have struggled in. They’ve already allowed 22 runs of 10 yards or more, most in the SEC. Landrews also has 4 pass breakups.
4. Wide Receiver Osirus Mitchell
Heading into the season, there was one player who needed to step up and do so quickly. Mitchell has done so with authority. The teams leading receiver, he’s also 2nd in all-purpose yards behind Kylin Hill. The numbers are stout, with 17 receptions for 244 yards and 3 touchdowns. If you’re checking, that’s 10 receptions more than the next receiver on the team. While he will be remembered for the drop against Florida last season, he’s giving MSU fans a reason to quickly forget anything from last season.
3. Safety Brian Cole
Cole has been terrific in every aspect. He hits, he covers. He leads the SEC with 5.5 tackles for loss. (For perspective, Abram had 9 in 13 games last season.). Totaling 21 tackles, Cole also has forced a fumble, had 1 pass breakup, recorded 2 sacks and recovered a fumble.
I expected big things from Cole before the season. He has lived up to the billing.
2. Linebacker Erroll Thompson
Another big returnee from last season, the junior has 30 tackles with 15 being solo. Thompson also has a fumble recovery and 3 quarterback hurries, Thompson has picked up the slack for a linebacker room that has struggled at times this season.
The good news for Thompson and the Bulldogs: linebacker Leo Lewis played really well against Kansas State and needs to continue and improve.
1. Running back Kylin Hill
Without question, the Bulldogs’ best player is the junior running back from Columbus, Miss. Hill is a leader and his numbers on the field are impressive.
He leads the SEC with 551 rushing yards and shares the lead with 5 TD runs.
Those numbers will only improve going forward, with the implementation of Shrader as a running quarterback and adding another element to the offense.
For Hill, I would be interested to see if he could be better used as a receiving threat coming out of the backfield. So far, he’s caught 5 passes for 49 yards. MSU could lean on him more going forward.