Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen doesn’t necessarily recruit players to come in and play right away. If anything, he’s had more success with some of the two-and three-star players who redshirted their first year and developed over time.
The 2017 class is different, though. First, Mississippi State is losing 12 starters from its 2016 team -- five on offense, seven on defense -- which means there will be plenty of opportunity for the newcomers to come in and play. Second, 13 of the 24 signees in the class are already enrolled and going through winter conditioning with their new teammates. They will get to go through spring practice, giving them a chance to get acclimated before the season.
It’s also more common for junior-college transfers to play early, and the Bulldogs signed nine from the juco ranks with this class.
In short, you could see a handful of incoming recruits on the field for Mississippi State next fall. From incoming freshmen Willie Gay and Kylin Hill to the four junior-college defensive linemen that signed and are already on campus, there’s immediate help on the way.
But the one to keep an eye on is junior-college safety Johnathan Abram.
Ranked No. 22 in the ESPN JC 50, Abram has played in the SEC before. As a freshman at Georgia in 2015, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound safety played in 10 games and finished with 25 tackles and one tackle for loss. In this recruiting cycle, he was recruited by his former coach Mark Richt, now at Miami, and he also got offers from Alabama, LSU and a handful of other SEC schools. But at the end of the day, the Mississippi native chose to stay in state and sign with the Bulldogs.
Abram will have a chance to compete for one of the starting safety spots that was manned by senior Kivon Coman.
Several newcomers should play for Mississippi State this coming season. Abram might be the best bet, though, considering he’ll go through spring, he has SEC experience, and there’s a spot open in the secondary.