Football season unofficially begins now.
Today marks the beginning of the second semester of summer school and with that comes summer workouts for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The vast majority of the football program reported for voluntary workouts in June, but today all but three of the 85 scholarship athletes are expected to be on hand to meet with strength and conditioning coach Matt Balis in order to begin preparation for the opening of fall camp on August 2.
The Bulldogs bring in 12 offensive recruits, 13 defensive recruits and a specialist in kicker/punter Devon Bell.
“This is a very balanced class, and as they come in there, it's obviously a lot of flexibility in that,” said MSU head coach Dan Mullen. “As we go through guys, as we see them develop, as they continue to grow, when we get them here on campus and we get to work with them within our program, we see how the development will lead them and what positions it ends up leading them to. I guess there’s a lot of excitement still ahead for us when we get there.”
Entering the summer session, the Bulldogs will be without redshirt freshman Nick Redmond, who opted to leave the program this summer. Also incoming freshman, Nick Schussler and Adarius Perkins decided Mississippi State wasn’t a good fit for them after the voluntary session of workouts and have now transferred out of the program.
At least one incoming freshman is expected to be on hand in athlete Xavier Grindle. This leaves Kivon Coman and Artimus Samuels as the only two players who have yet to be cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse. Both are expected to be cleared in order to join the Bulldogs prior to the August 2 opening of fall camp.
While the class does have balance, the defensive front certainly bulked up with the additions of Denico Autry, Quay Evans, Nelson Adams, Torrey Bell, Nick James, A.J. Jefferson, and Jordan Washington.
“It’s something that is really important to us," Mullen said. "When you have players that are leaving early and going to the NFL, that’s a good problem to have and some really good football players and we’re doing a great job developing them.”
Early playing time is also at stake this summer for the newcomers. Mullen has been clear from his first day on campus that the best players with win the job, regardless of age.
“I have no problem with all 23 of them playing as freshmen,” Mullen said. “We want to make sure we put them in a position to be successful. When we feel they’re ready to step on the field and can significantly contribute, we go play them.”
Mississippi State opens the 2012 season against Jackson State on September 1.