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May 16, 2011

Recruiting Corner: MSU offensive priorities

Earlier this week, we looked at numerous 2012 Mississippi State prospects on the defensive side of the ball. So today we shift gears and focus on the offensive prospects where the picture is somewhat less cloudy.

Since the quarterbacks often get their share of the pub, what better position to open up with? For much of the spring, it is no secret that Chad Voytik and William Gross are the top two candidates on the board. Yes, the Bulldogs have offered other signal callers for 2012 such as Jesup, Ga., native Greyson Lambert, Chris Moody of McDonough, Ga., and Magnolia State products Anthony Alford and Jeremy Liggins. But for the most part, Voytik and Gross have shown more interest in MSU and have often stated their fondness of MSU.

The scenario will actually become even clearer this summer. Voytik has noted he will make his decision known in the next month or so. He will likely choose between MSU and Pittsburgh and both schools have their own advantages. MSU was the first school to offer Voytik and he is a big fan of Dan Mullen. With Pitt, Voytik's parents are originally from western Pennsylvania and the Panthers' quarterback depth isn't nearly as stocked as it is in Starkville these days.

Staying in the backfield and moving to running back, there are a few more candidates of interest. MSU has offered the likes of Brian Kimbrow, Xavier Grindle, Nick Tompkins, Javon Robinson and more recently, juco running back Marion Grice. With the Bulldogs already having Nick Griffin on campus and Derrick Milton about to join him, will MSU just sign one or two quicker backs instead of adding another power back runner? Of course, if you can get a Jovon Robinson or Marion Grice then you obviously get those guys and I tend to think MSU will sign another power back this year.

Most believe, including myself, that Kimbrow is at the top of the list among the lighter and quicker tailbacks. But he likely doesn't decide on a school until late in the process and it does help MSU some that Kimbrow is originally from Noxubee County. Grindle has often said MSU is his favorite school so he could also be in the mix but if or when is still to be determined.

Also keep in mind that MSU already has a commitment for 2012 in Deonte Evans, who plays running back and defensive back at McComb (Miss.) High School. With MSU stock-piling safeties in last year's class, Evans will likely get a look at several positions.

And like most years, there could be a guy emerge at camp this summer, say a Richard Hampton of Center Hill who put up impressive numbers last year and displayed surprising speed during his junior track season.

At fullback, MSU has shown a trend of not offering a fullback type but has welcomed several talented walkons. MSU will not graduate a fullback this year either and James Johnson of Northwest Rankin (Miss.) is walking on this summer.

Moving to the tight end position, there are a couple of candidates not offered yet but definitely on MSU's radar - Canon Smith and Meridian's Shelton Cole, who play receivers but could grow into a tight end in college. Both will be guys to watch at camp. Of course, with spots so limited in this year's class, the Bulldogs could sign two receivers with one of those guys being a future tight end, or get one true receiver and one athlete type that could play the slot spot or even tailback at times ala Jaborian McKenzie.

And speaking of the receiver position, the Bulldogs are currently in the mix with several talented wideouts such as Jason Croom, D'Arthur Cowan, Drae Bowles, D.J. Thompson and Javon Bell from the juco ranks. Cowan and Croom have MSU near or at the top of their pecking order of favorites and both could make their decision known by the end of the summer. With Cowan it's between MSU and Arkansas for now while Croom has MSU above the likes of Arkansas and Miami.

Some note that Croom could also be a tight end candidate at the next level but that's not the case with MSU. After all, Chris Smith currently plays the X-position at MSU and has done well in that spot, and Croom is bigger and a tad quicker than Smith already.

Last but definitely not least, we end with the big boys in the trenches. The Bulldogs could sign anywhere from two to four offensive linemen in February of 2012 and guard/center prospect Devon Desper already has a spot in this class.

Staying with the inside guys, the Bulldogs have already offered guard prospects Jordan Watson of Fayetteville, Ga., and Germain Ifedi of Houston, Texas. Also guard possibilities getting looks from MSU include Kirby Wixson (also a center) and Darone Bailey of Coahoma Community College, and more names will appear this summer.

And at those all important tackle slots, the Bulldogs could take two tackles this year as well as taking two inside guys. MSU has offered numerous tackles for this class but the main two showing MSU the most interest are Cordarrly Gaines of Provine and Donald Hawkins of Northwest Community College. There are questions still with both. Will Gaines continue to shed weight and can Hawkins graduate from junior college in December? Those questions could have legitimate answers by late summer and determine their fate with MSU.

The Bulldogs also recently offered tackle prospect Andrew Jelks of Paris, Tenn., who is looking to play in the SEC.

Also in the tackle mix is Brentwood, Tenn., native Graham Shuler, who plans to camp at MSU among many other stops this summer as will Memphis native Devin Mondie, who could play guard or tackle. Similiar to the guards, there will be a name or two names arise on the scene on MSU's board with tackle prospects.

While the names are different as well as the position, you can figure out that the offensive and defensive prospects have one thing in common. The MSU summer camp scene will be a huge factor and clear up the 2012 recruiting board in a major way.


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