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2008 Mississippi State Bulldogs Season
Mississippi State RB Anthony Dixon
Mississippi State RB Anthony Dixon
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Feb 4, 2009


2008 Mississippi State Bulldogs Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews

2008 Mississippi State Bulldogs

Nov. 28
Ole Miss 45 … Mississippi State 0
Ole Miss dominated throughout with 11 sacks, limiting MSU to -51 net yards rushing, and getting four touchdown passes from Jevan Snead in the blowout. Dexter McCluster started out the scoring with a 36 touchdown run on the opening drive to open the floodgates in a 24-point first quarter. Snead connected with Mike Wallace from 17 and 72 yards out, and with Shay Hodge on a 10-yard touchdown for a 31-0 halftime lead. Ole Miss outgained MSU 461 yards to 37.
Player of the game: Ole Miss defensive linemen Peria Jerry and Greg Hardy combined for five sacks, seven tackles for loss, and nine tackles
Stat Leaders: Mississippi State - Passing: Tyson Lee, 5-9, 49 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Anthony Dixon, 8-17. Receiving: Jamayel Smith, 2-23
Ole Miss - Passing: Jevan Snead, 14-19, 213 yds, 4 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Dexter McCluster, 9-68, 1 TD. Receiving: Shay Hodge, 7-89, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... MSU was looking at the Egg Bowl as a chance to make a statement going into the off-season, but instead it left with far more questions. Will the offensive line be able to improve over the next nine months? Can the defense get back to its ball-hawkish ways? With everyone in the SEC improving or already strong, is MSU destined to be in the basement over the next few years? The blasting by Ole Miss showed nothing to suggest that things are getting any better, and it showed just how far the program has to go before getting back into the hunt for bowl games, forgetting about the West title.

- 2008 MSU Preview
- 2007 MSU Season

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-6
2008 Record: 4-8

Aug. 30 at La Tech L 22-14
Sept. 6 SE Louisiana W 34-10
Sept. 13 Auburn L 3-2
Sept. 20 at Georgia Tech L 38-7
Sept. 27 at LSU L 34-24

Oct. 4 OPEN DATE 

Oct. 11 Vanderbilt W 17-14
Oct. 18 at Tennessee L 34-3
Oct. 25 Middle Tenn W 31-22
Nov. 1 Kentucky L 14-13

Nov. 8 OPEN DATE 

Nov. 15 at Alabama L 32-7
Nov. 22 Arkansas W 31-28
Nov. 28 at Ole Miss L 45-0

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 3-9
2007 Record:
8-5

Aug. 30 LSU L 45-0
Sept. 8
at Tulane W 38-17
Sept. 15 at Auburn W 19-14
Sept. 22
Gardner-Webb W 31-14
Sept. 29 at So Carolina L 38-21
Oct. 6
UAB W 30-13
Oct. 13 Tennessee L 33-21
Oct. 20 at West Virginia L 38-13
Oct. 27 at Kentucky W 31-14
Nov. 10 Alabama W 17-12
Nov. 17 at Arkansas L 45-31
Nov. 24 Ole Miss W 17-14
Liberty Bowl
Dec. 29 UCF W 10-3

Nov. 28
Ole Miss 45 … Mississippi State 0
Ole Miss dominated throughout with 11 sacks, limiting MSU to -51 net yards rushing, and getting four touchdown passes from Jevan Snead in the blowout. Dexter McCluster started out the scoring with a 36 touchdown run on the opening drive to open the floodgates in a 24-point first quarter. Snead connected with Mike Wallace from 17 and 72 yards out, and with Shay Hodge on a 10-yard touchdown for a 31-0 halftime lead. Ole Miss outgained MSU 461 yards to 37.
Player of the game: Ole Miss defensive linemen Peria Jerry and Greg Hardy combined for five sacks, seven tackles for loss, and nine tackles
Stat Leaders: Mississippi State - Passing: Tyson Lee, 5-9, 49 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Anthony Dixon, 8-17. Receiving: Jamayel Smith, 2-23
Ole Miss - Passing: Jevan Snead, 14-19, 213 yds, 4 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Dexter McCluster, 9-68, 1 TD. Receiving: Shay Hodge, 7-89, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... MSU was looking at the Egg Bowl as a chance to make a statement going into the off-season, but instead it left with far more questions. Will the offensive line be able to improve over the next nine months? Can the defense get back to its ball-hawkish ways? With everyone in the SEC improving or already strong, is MSU destined to be in the basement over the next few years? The blasting by Ole Miss showed nothing to suggest that things are getting any better, and it showed just how far the program has to go before getting back into the hunt for bowl games, forgetting about the West title.

Nov. 22
Mississippi State 31 … Arkansas 28
Mississippi State got a huge day out of Anthony Dixon and the running game as he scored three times including a 63 yarder late in the third quarter. Arkansas was able to stay close on the arm of Nathan Dick, who connected with Lucas Miller for an 87-yard touchdown and finished with three touchdown passes. But the Bulldogs were able to hang on late as Dick hit Ben Cleveland for a one-yard touchdown with 25 seconds to play to pull within three, but the Hogs couldn’t get any closer.
Player of the game: Mississippi State RB Anthony Dixon ran 23 times for 179 yards and a touchdown, and he caught five passes for 32 yards and two scores
Stat Leaders: Arkansas - Passing: Nathan Dick, 25-43, 333 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Michael Smith, 14-60, 1 TD. Receiving: D.J. Williams, 5-59, 1 TD
Mississippi State - Passing: Tyson Lee, 23-40, 219 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Anthony Dixon, 23-179, 1 TD. Receiving: Jamayel Smith, 6-64
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Is that really a living, breathing offense Mississippi State is showing off? Tyson Lee went the whole way at quarterback against Arkansas, even though there was talk of a rotation, and there was a nearly perfect balance on offense. With 219 passing yards and 226 on the ground, the Bulldogs did whatever they wanted to against the struggling Hog defense. While there won’t be a bowl game this year, the spark of life the team is showing should do wonders going forward. A win over Ole Miss would be even bigger.
 

Nov. 15
Alabama 32 … Mississippi State 7
The Tide jumped out to an early 5-0 lead helped by a blocked punt for a safety, but MSU threw a scare into the No. 1 team with a 31-yard touchdown catch from Jamayel Smith early in the second quarter. The Tide scored 27 unanswered points, but it took a while to put the Bulldogs away as Leigh Tiffin finished with three field goals and John Parker Wilson and Mark Ingram each ran for one-yard scores. Up 12-7, Bama all but put the game out of reach early in the second half on a 80-yard punt return for a score from Javier Arenas. MSU gained 167 yards of total offense with nine first downs.
Player of the game: Alabama S Rolando McClain made 11 tackles with two sacks and a broken up pass
Stat Leaders: Mississippi State - Passing: Tyson Lee, 11-28, 132 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Anthony Dixon, 11-26. Receiving: Anthony Dixon, 4-32
Alabama - Passing: John Parker Wilson, 10-17, 148 yds
Rushing: Mark Ingram, 13-78, 1 TD. Receiving: Julio Jones, 3-53
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... MSU did what it could do against the No. 1 team in the country, but there weren’t the necessary takeaways and the offense could only come up with one big play to try to keep pace. There was nothing in the bag of tricks offensively in the second half; the line simply didn’t get any push for the running game. The special teams breakdowns were the last straw with nine points coming off problems with the punting game. The bowl game is gone, but now it’ll take wins at Arkansas and Ole Miss to keep the final tally from being ugly. 5-7 isn’t awful, but 3-9 might mean a major hot seat for Sylvester Croom.


Nov. 1
Kentucky 14 … Mississippi State 13
Mississippi State got a 10-yard Arnil Stallworth touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter to pull within one, but the extra point was blocked. The Bulldogs had a few more chances, but Adam Carlson missed a field goal and QB Tyson Lee was intercepted to give Kentucky the win. The Wildcats got all their points in the third quarter on a five-yard Randall Cobb run and a three-yard catch from Maurice Grinter, and then the defense did the rest.
Player of the game: Kentucky CB Trevard Lindley made seven tackles with a tackle for loss
Stat Leaders: Mississippi State - Passing: Tyson Lee, 26-42, 261 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Anthony Dixon, 15-48. Receiving: Arnil Stallworth, 8-71, 1 TD
Kentucky - Passing: Mike Hartline, 9-17, 90 yds
Rushing: Tony Dixon, 12-66. Receiving: Randall Cobb, 3-33
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... MSU just isn’t getting much in the way of offensive luck. The passing game wasn’t bad against Kentucky, there were yards late, but the running game never got going on a strong defensive front that, when healthy, is playing among the best teams in the SEC. The Bulldogs need Anthony Dixon to be effective, and it didn’t happen with the UK defense keying on him from the start. MSU isn’t going to win many games when Tyson Lee is throwing it 42 times.

Oct. 25
Mississippi State 31 … Middle Tennessee 22
Middle Tennessee took the lead early in the third quarter on a 23-yard Alan Gendreau field goal to cap a 13-point run highlighted by an Eldred King 14-yard touchdown catch, but then it was all Mississippi State as Tyson Lee and Anthony Dixon each ran for short scores to put the game out of reach. Middle Tennessee made it interesting with a one-yard Phillip Tanner scoring run, but the two point conversion attempt failed and MSU was never threatened again. Dixon finished with three rushing scores with a 62-yarder in the first quarter.
Player of the game: Mississippi State RB Anthony Dixon ran 27 times for 126 yards and three touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Middle Tennessee - Passing: Joe Craddock, 23-40, 235 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Phillip Tanner, 8-29, 1 TD. Receiving: Eldred King, 11-164, 1 TD
Mississippi State - Passing: Tyson Lee, 17-25, 197 yds
Rushing: Anthony Dixon, 27-126, 3 TD. Receiving: Arnil Stallworth, 4-60
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The offense moved the ball on a good Mississippi State defense, but once again, the running game struggled and the passing attack had to pick up the slack. Joe Craddock tried to bomb away to keep the team in the game, and he got close late, but the defense had too many problems holding up on a big Bulldog run. With a week off, the team needs to try to erase the recent three-game losing streak and finish up strong with winnable games against UL Monroe and Western Kentucky up next.

Oct. 18
Tennessee 34 … Mississippi State 3
The two sputtering offenses traded field goals in the first half with Tennessee holding a 6-3 lead into the locker room, and then the defense took over. The Vols went on a 53-yard drive finishing with a one-yard Montario Hardesty run in the third quarter, and then in a span of less than two minutes, Eric Berry returned an interception 72 yards for a touchdown and Demetrice Morley took a pick 32 yards for a score. Tennessee outgained MSU 275 yards to 189.
Player of the game: Tennessee DB Eric Berry made 10 tackles, a sack, two broken up passes and took an interception 72 yards for a score
Stat Leaders: Mississippi State - Passing: Tyson Lee, 12-23, 114 yds, 3 INT
Rushing: Anthony Dixon, 15-46. Receiving: Anthony Dixon, 3-27
Tennessee - Passing: Nick Stephens, 10-20, 136 yds
Rushing: Lennon Creer, 17-68, 1 TD. Receiving: Austin Rogers & Lucas Taylor, 2-23

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... After the win over Vanderbilt, the Bulldogs failed to capitalize on the momentum against a struggling Tennessee team and are now in huge trouble. The offense did nothing against the Vols, and worse yet, made a few huge mistakes to blow the game open the other way. Unable to score, and with Kentucky and Alabama on the horizon after a date with Middle Tennessee, the Bulldog offense has to find something that works in a real hurry. The defense can only do so much.

Oct. 11
Mississippi State 17 …. Vanderbilt 14
Mississippi State held Vanderbilt to just 107 yards of total offense, but the Commodores were able to score on two short runs, one from Chris Nickson and one from Jeff Jennings, to stay alive. The Bulldog offense wasn’t sharp, but behind the running of Anthony Dixon, a four-yard Brandon Henderson touchdown catch, and a three-yard Christian Ducre scoring run MS held a 17-7 lead late in the game. And then it was up to the D that allowed the Commodores to convert just one of ten third down chances.
Player of the game: Mississippi State RB Anthony Dixon ran 27 times for 107 yards
Stat Leaders: Vanderbilt - Passing: Mackenzi Adams, 5-9, 47 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Jeff Jennings, 4-15 & Sean Walker, 2-15, 1 TD. Receiving: Sean Walker, 2-27
Mississippi State - Passing: Tyson Lee, 12-22, 81 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Anthony Dixon, 27-107. Receiving: Brandon McRae, 5-39
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... MSU got right back in the hunt for a bowl game with a dominant defensive performance against Vanderbilt. It might have only been a 17-14 win, but it was exactly how the formula is supposed to work with few offensive mistakes, a good running game, and great D. It would’ve been nice if QB Tyson Lee had done more, but he didn’t have to with Anthony Dixon running so well. If the Bulldogs can beat a struggling Tennessee, and with winnable home games against Middle Tennessee and Kentucky to follow, there’s a chance for a big turnaround.

Sept. 27
LSU 34 ... Mississippi State 24
LSU got up 17-3 helped by two one-yard Charles Scott touchdown runs, but Mississippi State made it a fight with short touchdown runs from Christian Ducre and Anthony Dixon. The Tigers finally put it away with a 43-yard Demetrius Byrd touchdown catch in the final five minutes. Ducre caught an 11-yard touchdown pass late, but the Bulldogs couldn't get any closer.
Player of the game:
LSU RB Charles Scott ran 27 times for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
Stat Leaders: Mississippi State
- Passing: Tyson Lee, 17-26, 175 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Anthony Dixon, 15-50, 1 TD. Receiving: Christian Ducre, 4-34, 1 TD
LSU - Passing: Jarrett Lee, 18-27, 261 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Charles Scott, 27-141, 2 TD. Receiving: Brandon LaFell, 7-100
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Mississippi State is past the point of enjoying moral victories, but it battled well in the loss at LSU. The supposedly impenetrable Tiger defense had a hard time with Tyson Lee and gave up a few runs. Lee didn't make any mistakes, but he wasn't able to push the ball deep to open things up. Penalties were a problem, committing ten for 90 yards, while keeping the chains moving was an issue. However, the offensive line did a decent job and the defense got LSU off the field enough to stay alive. Now comes the week off before a must-win against Vanderbilt.

Sept. 20
Georgia Tech 38 ... Mississippi State 7
Georgia Tech ripped off 438 rushing yards with Jonathan Dwyer tearing off an 88-yard touchdown dash, Jaybo Shaw added a 25-yarder and Greg Smith ran for a 45-yard score on the way to a 38-0 lead taken midway into the fourth quarter. Mississippi State was done in by four turnovers, no running game, and missed tackles as the defense never figured out the Yellow Jacket option. The Bulldog points came on a six-yard Robert Elliott run in with just over eight minutes to play.
Player of the game: Georgia Tech RB Jonathan Dwyer ran nine times for 141 yards and a touchdown, catching a pass for 20 yards.
Stat Leaders: Mississippi State
- Passing: Tyson Lee, 17-27, 179 yds
Rushing: Anthony Dixon, 13-94. Receiving: Brandon McRae, 10-102
Georgia Tech
- Passing: Jaybo Shaw, 3-7, 43 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Jonathan Dwyer, 9-141, 1 TD. Receiving: Demaryius Thomas, 2-23, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The running game continues to be a major issue, but to be fair, no one's going to do much against Auburn and Georgia Tech. However, the big concern has to be the way the MSU defensive front was blown off the ball by the Georgia Tech offensive front. With LSU up next, and its fantastic offensive line among the best in America, MSU has some serious work to do or else the season will start 1-4. The passing game has to push the ball better down the field, and Anthony Dixon, who had a nice game against the Yellow jackets, needs more room.

Sept. 13
Auburn 3 … Mississippi State 2
Auburn got a two-run double in the top of the seventh inning to … oh yeah, football. Wes Byrum kicked a 35-yard field goal and the Tiger defense held Mississippi State to 116 yards of total offense in the defensive slugfest. The Bulldogs blew their only offensive scoring chance when Adam Carson missed a field goal, and got their only points midway through the fourth quarter when Auburn’s Ryan Pugh got called for a holding penalty in the end zone. Auburn amassed 315 yards of total offense, but committed 12 penalties and three turnovers.
Player of the game:
Auburn P Clinton Durst averaged 43.6 yards per kick on seven punts with three put inside the 20.
Stat Leaders: Auburn
- Passing: Chris Todd, 14-26, 154 yds
Rushing: Ben Tate, 20-92. Receiving: Montez Billings, 3-68
Mississippi State - Passing: Wesley Carroll, 10-25, 78 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Christian Ducre, 16-49. Receiving: Co-Eric Riley, 3-26

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... MSU has to get the ground game going. Auburn might have the most effective run defense in America, but if MSU has any hope of making any noise in the SEC West it’ll have to get running. Wesley Carroll and the passing attack aren’t going to beat anyone, so if Anthony Dixon, who ran for five yards on seven carries, and Christian Ducre, who ran 16 times for 49 yards, aren’t effective, the Bulldogs don’t have much of a chance against the good teams. 78 yards passing and 38 yards rushing isn’t going to get it done.

Sept. 6
Mississippi State 34 … SE Louisiana 10
MSU played like the MSU of last year holding SE Louisiana to eight first downs and 148 yards while the Bulldog offense rolled for 401 yards with Wesley Carroll throwing for two scores and Anthony Dixon running for two touchdowns. The Lions, who committed 12 penalties, scored first on a 46-yard Jeff Turner field goal but MSU rolled with a 34-point run to put the game away. Nine different Bulldogs ran the ball.
Player of the game:
 Mississippi State QB Wesley Carroll completed 15-of-23 passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns and ran three times for 26 yards
Stat Leaders: Northwestern State - Passing: Tyler Beatty, 4-10, 97 yds
Rushing: Jay Lucas, 9-21 Receiving: DeMario Simmons, 1-70
Mississippi State - Passing: Wesley Carroll, 15-23, 158 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Anthony Dixon, 18-80, 2 TD. Receiving: Brandon McRae, 8-72, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... After screwing up against Louisiana Tech, MSU came back with a nice performance against SE Louisiana with Wesley Carroll taking back the quarterback reins. While he’ll still have to prove he can be consistent against a good team, for one week he was the main man with an efficient, solid effort in the easy win. It helps when the running game is working as the Bulldogs cranked out 216 yards while the defense held the Lions to just 1.2 yards per carry.

Aug. 30
Louisiana Tech 22 ... Mississippi State 14
Mississippi State turned the ball over three times in the third quarter and five overall as Louisiana Tech shut out the Bulldogs in the second half. Patrick Jackson scored two six-yard touchdowns, one on a pass and one on a run, and Brad Oestriecher nailed three field goals including bombs from 48 and 50 yards away. MSU came up with three takeaways of its own and had a 14-3 lead on an eight-yard Brandon McRae touchdown catch and a one-yard Brandon Hart run, but the offense sputtered the rest of the way with turnovers and penalties killing drives time and again.
Player of the game: Louisiana Tech FS Antonio Baker made ten tackles and an interception
Stat Leaders: Louisiana Tech - Passing: Taylor Bennett, 14-40, 175 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Patrick Jackson, 17-62, 1 TD. Receiving: Phillip Livas, 6-85
Mississippi State - Passing: Wesley Carroll, 12-25, 172 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Anthony Dixon, 18-91. Receiving: Aubrey Bell, 6-67
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Louisiana Tech game was supposed to be a beartrap, and it was because the offense kept giving it away. La Tech had a lot to do with that, but MSU can't screw up and make mistakes and win. It's game is to force turnovers, which it did, and for the offense to take advantage of every opportunity, and that didn't happen. Now the Bulldogs have to regroup against SE Louisiana, do a better job in ball security, and gear up for Auburn in two weeks. To have any hope of succeeding in the SEC, the ground game has to be far better.

2008 Recruiting Class

Star of the Class

Templeton Hardy DT 6-3 295 Como, MS (North Panola HS)
Ranked as the No. 16 defensive tackle prospect in the country prior to his senior season by recruiting web site Scout.com, the 39th-best prospect overall . . . Selected to play in the Under Armour All-Star game following his senior season . . . Listed with the top 40 offensive and defensive linemen in the Southeastern Conference area by the G&W Recruiting Report, one of only three linemen listed from the state of Mississippi . . . That publication also mentioned him as one of the top 250 players in the country, regardless of position . . . Attended the U.S. Army junior combine in San Antonio, Texas, in January 2007 . . . Ran a 5.2-second 40-yard dash at that combine, bench pressed 300 pounds, and jumped 28 inches in the vertical leap . . . Rated No. 4 on SuperPrep's post-season All-America listing of the state of Mississippi's top players, the state's top defensive lineman . . . That site had him ranked as the No. 30 defensive lineman available in the country . . . Selected to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen, symbolic of being one of the top 12 players in the state of Mississippi . . . Rated No. 9 in the state of Mississippi's Ten Most Wanted recruits by that newspaper following his senior season . . . Registered 148 tackles, including 28 for loss, nine of which were quarterback sacks, during his junior season . . . Also had one pass interception (touchdown return), three forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries . . . Three-year, two-way starter for head coach Vincent Johnson at North Panola . . . Started for North Panola's basketball team as well . . . Outstanding high school student in the classroom with a 3.4 grade point average . . . Other top scholarship offers: Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Southern Cal, Stanford and UCLA . . . Committed to MSU in June 2007.

Potential Instant Impact Players

Phillip Freeman OL 6-6 290 Wesson, MS (Wesson HS/Copiah-Lincoln CC)
JUNIOR COLLEGE: Starred as an offensive tackle at hometown Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) Community College for head coach Glen Davis . . . Earned first-team, all-state recognition at the conclusion of his 2006 freshman and 2007 sophomore seasons by the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges . . . Rated among the top 25 junior college players in Mississippi by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger . . . Credited with a 300-pound bench press max and a 5.0-second 40-yard dash time by Rivals . . . Other top scholarship offers: Arizona State, Kansas State, Boise State, Colorado and Oklahoma State . . . Committed to MSU in December 2007.
HIGH SCHOOL: Played both offensive and defensive tackle for three seasons at Wesson (Miss.) High School.

Charles Mitchell DB 5-11 187 Clarksdale, MS (Clarksdale HS)
Named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Mississippi this past season . . . Selected to play in the Mississippi-Alabama High School All-Star game following his senior season . . . Led the Mississippi team to victory by pacing the defense in tackles (nine) and recording an interception in the all-star classic . . . Chosen to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen prior to his senior season, symbolic of being one of the top 12 prospects in the state of Mississippi . . . He was rated No. 4 on that newspaper's list of state's top high school recruits . . . Selected first-team, all-state in the defensive backfield by the Clarion-Ledger . . . That site timed him a 4.58 in the 40-yard dash and with a 245-pound bench press max . . . Ranked as the No. 22 safety in the nation by recruiting web site Scout.com, he is that site's No. 8 prospect overall in the state of Mississippi, the top-rated defensive back . . . Credited with running a 4.56 40-yard dash and a 37-inch vertical jump by Scout at its New Orleans camp prior to his senior season . . . SuperPrep rated him the No. 25 defensive backfield prospect in the country in its season-ending All-America issue . . . That publication ranked him the No. 6 prospect in the state of Mississippi, the second-rated defensive back . . . Two-way standout performer for head coach Jim Hughes at Clarksdale (Miss.) High School . . . Starred as both a running back and defensive back for the Wildcats . . . Made 78 tackles, four of which were quarterback sacks, and two pass interceptions in leading Clarksdale to the second round of the state playoffs as a senior . . . Offensively, he rushed 80 times for 520 yards and nine touchdowns, and caught 14 passes for 200 yards and another score . . . Named second-team, all-state in the secondary by the Clarion-Ledger as a junior when he led Clarksdale to the state semifinals . . . Made 108 tackles and had three interceptions that season, while rushing for 1,151 yards and 12 touchdowns on offense . . . Three-year starter on the prep level . . . Solid student in the high school classroom with a 2.80 grade point average . . . Other top scholarship offers: Nebraska, Michigan, Alabama, and Ole Miss.


Rest of the Class

John Paul Alford OL 6-3 280 Kosciusko, MS (Kosciusko HS)
Charles Bailey WR 6-2 173 St. Augustine, FL (Bartram Trail HS)
Nick Bell DL 6-4 230 Bessemer, AL (Jess Lanier HS)
Corey Broomfield DB 5-10 157 Palm Bay, FL (Bayside HS)
Arceto Clark ATH 5-10 165 Verona, MS (Shannon HS)
Kendrick Cook TE 6-3 230 Attalla, AL (Etowah HS)
Terrance Davis ATH 5-11 180 Conyers, GA (Salem HS)
Rashun Dixon ATH 6-2 227 Jackson, MS (Terry HS)
Sean Ferguson DL 6-4 225 Miami, FL (Norland HS)
Phillip Freeman OL 6-6 290 Wesson, MS (Wesson HS/Copiah-Lincoln CC)
Kirkland Gainous LB 6-2 205 Tallahassee, FL (Lincoln HS)
Templeton Hardy DL 6-3 295 Como, MS (North Panola HS)
Antonio Hoskins LB 6-2 215 Water Valley, MS (Water Valley HS)
Mike Hunt LB 6-3 220 Meadville, MS (Franklin County HS)
Nelson Hurst TE 6-4 240 Plainfield, IN (Plainfield HS)
Joshua Jackson DL 6-3 294 Canton, MS (Canton HS)
Devin Jones DL 6-2 240 Olive Branch, MS (DeSoto Central HS)
Shane McCardell DL 6-5 220 Beaumont, TX (West Brook HS)
Charles Mitchell DB 5-11 187 Clarksdale, MS (Clarksdale HS)
ToJo Patterson RB 6-0 190 Corinth, MS (Biggersville HS)
Delmon Robinson WR 5-10 180 Vicksburg, MS (Vicksburg HS)
Tobias Smith OL 6-3 292 Columbus, MS (Columbus HS)
Trevor Stigers DL 6-4 225 Ridgeland, MS (Ridgeland HS)
Baker Swedenburg P 6-0 175 Columbus, MS (Heritage Academy)
Bo Walters LB 6-1 225 Wilsonville, AL (Briarwood Christian)
Louis Watson DB 5-10 165 Mobile, AL (St. Paul's Episcopal)
O'Neal Wilder WR 6-5 190 Carthage, MS (Carthage)

2008 Early Lookahead
Why to get excited: Coming off a breakthrough season under Sylvester Croom, the expectations are sky-high with eight starters back on a senior-laden defense, and seven starters back on offense. The schedule gets a huge break getting Vanderbilt and Kentucky from the East, both at home, along with at Louisiana Tech, SE Louisiana, Middle Tennessee, and at Ole Miss. In other words, the slate is in place to go back to another bowl.
Why to be grouchy: Does the offense have any talent? It has experience, and the running backs are excellent, but the passing game still won't be in place to come up with any explosion. If the defense wasn't creating turnovers and wasn't dictating the game, MSU had a hard time. The problems will likely continue.
The number one thing to work on is: Throwing the ball. Michael Henig hasn't been able to stay healthy, and while Wesley Carroll was only a freshman, he still isn't an efficient passer who'll keep the chains moving without the running game working. MSU is never going to bomb away for 350 yards per game, but there can't be so many interceptions and there has to be more production on third downs.
Biggest offensive loss: C Royce Blackledge
Biggest defensive loss: DE Titus Brown
Best returning offensive player: OT Michael Brown, Sr.
Best returning defensive player: FS Derek Pegues, Sr.

2007 Recap
Recap: After three straight three-win seasons, Sylvester Croom’s blueprint for a revival in Starkville finally began to deliver tangible signs of progress.  The Bulldogs, saddled with quarterback problems all season, clawed their way to eight wins, capped by stirring victories over Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl and UCF in the Liberty Bowl, the school’s first postseason game in seven years.  Wins over Auburn, Kentucky, and Alabama were proof that Mississippi State’s breakthrough, eight-win season was not just the product of a cushy schedule.            

Offensive Player of the Year: RB Anthony Dixon

Defensive Player of the Year: DE Titus Brown

Biggest Surprise: The Bulldogs’ first national statement that they’d be a nuisance all year came in a Week 3 upset of Auburn at Jordan-Hare.  Despite losing starting QB Michael Henig to a broken hand, and allowing the Tigers to drive deep into its territory in the final minutes, Mississippi State hung on for a momentum-building 19-14 upset.    

Biggest Disappointment: The Bulldogs didn’t have much to complain about in a season that far exceeded anyone’s expectations.  If there was a low point, it came on Nov. 17, a 45-31 loss to Arkansas.  Although Mississippi State was still bowl eligible, it needed this game to ensure an invitation, but got smoked by five Hog touchdown passes.   

Looking Ahead: After becoming one of the stories of 2007 in the SEC, Mississippi State needs to build on its succees, beginning with this February’s recruiting cycle.  The silver lining in the Bulldogs’ year-long quarterback crisis was that true freshman Wesley Carroll was forced to survive a baptism under fire.  Almost an entire season of experience has hastened his development, good news for the league’s worst offense.  

   

Related Stories
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