It was big news on signing day when ESPN 300 linebacker Willie Gay chose to stay in state and sign with Mississippi State. Gay was a major coup for Dan Mullen and his staff, and he helped propel the Bulldogs’ class into the top 25 in ESPN's final class rankings.
But Gay wasn’t the only Mississippi kid who committed to Mississippi State on signing day. Three-star linebacker Aaron Odom joined Gay by choosing the Bulldogs over Louisville in a decision that wasn't nearly as publicized.
Odom had been committed to Mississippi State since last April but re-opened his recruitment less than a month before signing day when defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon left to go to Louisville. However, Mullen and new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham went to see Odom shortly after Grantham was hired and even brought the Egg Bowl trophy by his high school the weekend before signing day. The extra attention paid off.
At 6-foot-3, 256 pounds, Odom is listed as an inside linebacker by ESPN but is expected to play either defensive end or outside linebacker when he gets to Starkville, Mississippi. As a senior in high school, he finished with 166 tackles and 28 sacks.
“He’s going to do a great job of adding pass rush and help us immediately as a pass-rusher coming off the edge,” Mullen said.
There should be plenty of opportunities for Odom to play early as Mississippi State lost four starters up front, including its top two pass-rushers -- A.J. Jefferson and Johnathan Calvin. The two combined for 22 tackles for loss and 11 sacks last season.
The Bulldogs also signed a handful of junior college defensive linemen who are already on campus, but don’t be surprised if Odom, a three-star prospect, still makes an impact next fall. He has a knack for getting to the quarterback.