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WARDLAW COLUMN: On recruiting trail, Bulldogs need defensive linemen

June 19, 2012


Under head coach Dan Mullen, Mississippi State has been known for dominant defensive linemen.

Just look at the past two National Football League drafts with Fletcher Cox and Pernell McPhee. Throw Kyle Love in the mix and the Bulldogs are well represented in the recent past.

When considering this year's line will feature Josh Boyd and Denico Autry, it is easy to see the Bulldogs are serious about controlling the line of scrimmage.

Like with any program, MSU must stay on the recruiting trail in order to keep the studs up front in Maroon and White.

With that in mind, here's a look at who is still on the board on the defensive front for the class of 2013.

The Bulldogs could take as many as five defensive linemen in the 2013 signing class. At this point Chris Jones is the lone lineman committed as a lineman after impressing the coaching staff during State's opening days of football camp. Now, MSU looks to sort through a very talented group to fill out the class.

– Jacob Chaffin from Spain Park High School attended camp last week and left a solid impression. At 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds he proved he can play in the SEC. Of the lineman who attended camp last week, he was certainly among the two or three most impressive linemen on hand. He has the size and played with violent hands. He would be a very solid addition to the 2013 class.

– Jonathan Wilson from Salem High School is a very raw prospect that relies on brute strength to dominate. He knows he has to become more of a technician in order to play at the SEC level. With that being said if the Bulldogs are looking for a player who can help in a couple of years, Wilson could be the guy. He has tremendous upside because he showed versatility during camp as State also put him through drills with the offensive line.  There is a bit of a roll of the dice with Wilson, but he is worth serious consideration.

– Rod Crayton is a 6-foot-1 lineman who remains high on Mississippi State's list. While he may appear to be a bit undersized in regards to his height, he more than makes up for it with his determination. He had an impressive showing at the MSU camp last week, but I'm still waiting to see a bit more before I'm sold on him completely.

– Hakim Gray is 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds and can flat out play football. He is a speed guy off the edge who uses his hands well to avoid contact and get to the quarterback. Like Chaffin, Gray was one of the more impressive linemen at camp. While I'm not in the war room with the MSU staff, I'm pretty sure they would welcome his addition to the class.

– Jerry Harris of Hueytown is 6-foot-3, 295 pounds and looks to be a little soft around the middle, but that's nothing Matt Balis can't handle if he picks Mississippi State. During camp, he did show a good burst off the football, but I would say it would be his junior season before he would be a valued asset at the college level (which isn't a bad thing).

State fans will also remember the name of Lauren Jackson. He's a talented defensive end from Meridian who is now at East Mississippi Community College. The Bulldogs will keep a close eye on him and teammate Za'Darius Smith as the season unfolds.

Here are a few other names to keep on the watchlist: Juvon Gales, Will Trevillion, Favid Elais, Xavier Pegues, and Demaries Peppers.

Michael Wardlaw is the Mississippi State beat writer and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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