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MSU puts together top 25 class

February 6, 2013

Houston High School's Chris Jones signed with Mississippi State on Wednesday. (Photo by Creg Stephenson, The Press-Register, AP)

It was an eventful day for the Mississippi State coaching staff.

As National Signing Day came to a close, the Bulldogs had put together a top 25 recruiting class.

"It's a great day to be a Mississippi State Bulldog," MSU head coach Dan Mullen said at Wednesday's press conference in the Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex. "We got 17 new guys joining the family. We had four come in at mid-semester obviously, but 16 new guys that joined us, so (we are) really excited about it."

The Bulldogs 21-man class was ranked No. 20 by Scout, No. 24 by 247Sports and No. 23 by Rivals and No. 25 by ESPN.

MSU did land the No. 2 recruit by 247Sports in Houston defensive end Chris Jones. The five-star recruit had been committed to the Bulldogs for a while, but two weeks before National Signing Day, Ole Miss became a huge factor in his decision.

He made his announcement at Houston High School early Wednesday morning. Mullen was confident Jones was going to choose MSU before the announcement.

"I talked to him about 12:30 (Tuesday night)," Mullen said. "He called me and said, 'coach, I'm ready to go tomorrow morning, all fired up.'"

Jones visited both State and Ole Miss last weekend and was pretty sure of his decision before the weekend started.

"It was crazy," the 6-foot-5 and 255-pound Jones told Bulldawgs 247. "Mississippi State and Ole Miss is a big rivalry, then everyone found out I was visiting Ole Miss and there have been some Mississippi State commits that have decommitted and gone to Ole Miss before. A lot of people thought that I was going to be a part of that group of guys, but I just wanted to visit them and see what their program had to offer.

They have wonderful coaches at Ole Miss and a good atmosphere. I just felt Mississippi State was the best fit for me."

Jones stuck with his commitment and Mullen trusted Jones was going to follow through.

“It is a lot of drama, (and) I think the media created a lot of drama with Chris," Mullen said. "For young kids, it's their first time dealing with all this stuff, but like I said all along he said, 'hey coach, I’m coming to be a Bulldog,' and I trusted him from day-one and he never wavered on that with me.”

Starkville High School quarterback and three-star recruit Gabe Myles signed with the Bulldogs at the new SHS field house.

He will more than likely make the transition to defense, but that's OK with him.

"I could go another place and quarterback, but at the same time, changing a position to play where I want to play is a whole lot more important," Myles said. "I didn't want to be at a place where I was happy with the position but not happy with where I wanted to be. I just made the choice that position change is worth being where you actually want to be."

MSU was in need of receivers as the Bulldogs lost many of their top targets to graduation.

State inked six wide receivers in this class. Fred Ross of Tyler, Texas, headlines the wide outs.

The four-star was committed to Oklahoma State for over a year, but decommitted and committed to the Bulldogs late Tuesday night.

MSU assistant women's basketball coach Aqua Franklin is Ross's cousin. 

"Because of the family relationships he had, and we had offered him early on, he'd always had interest in us," Mullen said. "He took an unofficial visit out here in the summer, got to see campus, and we've just been in constant communication with him the whole way through. When he took the official visit out here and his family came here, he saw how much he fit in with the guys here. He knew this was the place for him. There was a lot of celebrating for us when he told us he was coming."

The Bulldogs picked up two quarterbacks in Bradenton, Fla., native Cord Sandberg and Metairie, La., signal caller Damian Williams.

Sandberg, a three-star recruit by 247Sports, also plays baseball and has flirted going pro. He might also play baseball for MSU and coach John Cohen.

"I've had guys do it before," Mullen said. "I know one of Cord's concerns being a quarterback and having to do it. I think the relationship that John and I have certainly would really lead to making that easy. There is some extra development it takes to be a quarterback. The benefit of being a field player, being an outfielder, that also makes it a little bit easier. (When) you are looking at our 15 spring practices and their season, that's really when you're working together."

Tupelo High School running back and four-star recruit Ashton Shumpert stuck with his commitment and is the only tailback the Bulldogs inked.

Shumpert is listed as an athlete by 247Sports and could play on the defensive side of the ball as well.

"He has the ability to play both ways probably for us," Mullen said. "There are a bunch of different positions he could play. We're going to look at him playing tailback for us. We're really excited about him being the tailback of the future for us. Since day one, he's been the No. 1 tailback on our board when you look at what he brings to the table. His size and his physical ability, but he has the foot quickness to make people miss."

MSU boosted the offensive line with Columbus High School offense tackle Jake Thomas. The four-star recruit has been on Mullen's list ever since he arrived to be the head coach of the Bulldogs.

"I've been recruiting him since I got here," Mullen said. "First time here, David Turner came in and said, 'we've got to get this lineman in Columbus.' I said, 'Great.' He said, 'I think he's in 8th grade right now.'"

Later in the day, MSU picked up Jahmere Irvin-Sills, who is listed as an athlete from Elkton, Md., and the Bulldogs could get a couple of more players in the coming weeks.

This was the first day recruits could sign national letters of intent.

Mullen expects there to be one or two more guys to join MSU's class. 

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