Zach Arnett is in his early stages at the helm of the Mississippi State program following the death of Mike Leach. While the Bulldogs very well could have opted to end their season, they’ll honor their commitment and play in the ReliaQuest Bowl against Illinois, something they felt Leach would want them to do.

As heavy the current mood is in Starkville — Leach’s memorial service was on Tuesday — Arnett has had to balance that with bowl game preparations and recruiting. Recruiting has been the immediate focus with the Early Signing Period beginning on Wednesday as the Bulldogs officially signed 25 players, highlighted by in-state safety Isaac Smith.

During his press conference on Wednesday discussing Mississippi State’s incoming recruiting class, Arnett discussed the program’s top priorities at the current moment:

Credit to Arnett as it’s been anything but business as usual for his program over the past few weeks. He and the Bulldogs now turn their attention to what will be a somber holiday season, as well as the final days of bowl practice ahead of Jan. 2’s game against Illinois in Tampa.