By MATTHEW STEVENS
Mississippi State may have found an impact player to replace one of the giant holes at linebacker next season.
Three-year starting linebacker Brandon Maye announced Monday evening he is transferring to Mississippi State.
The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder, who played the past three seasons at Clemson, confirmed to the Starkville Daily News over the phone he will be playing his final season of college football in Starkville as a fifth-year senior member of the Bulldogs program.
"Coach (Dan) Mullen has the MSU program on a high line and I'm just thrilled to be allowed to jump on and be a part of going after an SEC championship in my final season of college football," Maye said.
Maye announced on Jan. 31 that he would be transferring to another school in large part due to a position change (middle to weak side linebacker) and disappointment surrounding his playing status.
After graduating with honors this spring from Clemson University, Maye will be attempting to enroll in the Sports Administration graduate program at Mississippi State University that is not offered at his former school in order to waive the mandatory NCAA rule that states transfers must sit out one year before being eligible to play in the 2011 season.
The waiver policy is similar to the one granted last year to Jeremiah Masoli when the fifth-year senior quarterback transferred from Oregon to Ole Miss and played in the 2010 season for the Rebels.
Mississippi State coaches are not allowed to talk under NCAA regulations about players at other schools until they officially enroll at their institution.
"The relationship with Coach Mullen, (MSU defensive coordinator Chris) Wilson and (MSU linebacker coach Geoff) Collins was a major contributing factor to me picking MississippI State," Maye said.
The first-team Academic All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection in 2008 and 2009, who majored in sociology at Clemson graduates on May 13 and will begin working out with MSU when he enrolls in June.
After finishing third on the team in tackles (103) in 2009, Maye saw his total snaps decrease from 756 in 2009, to 353 in 2010, though he missed three games because of an injury last season.
Maye looks to compete with seniors Brandon Wilson and Jamie Jones for the starting middle linebacker job after 2010 Conerly Trophy winner Chris White graduated and looks to be a middle-round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft this April.
"As a freshman and sophomore I ran middle linebacker in a zone-based scheme similar to what MSU runs now," Maye said. "I'm a guy that will play with passion and will lead the guys in the right direction from day one."
Considered a three-star recruit from Mobile, Ala., by Rivals.com nearly four years ago, Maye was ranked as the 29th overall prospect in the state and would go on to named to Football Writers Association of America's All-Freshman team.
"When I was at the Senior Bowl, I even saw State fans ringing those cowbells for their players there," Maye said. "I want to be a part of something special like that too."