Mississippi State brings in 20-player class

Mississippi State signed a recruiting class of 20 players on

Tuesday, including heralded defensive end Chris Jones.

The Bulldogs landed Jones, who is from nearby Houston, Miss.,

after a hard-fought recruiting battle with rival Mississippi. The

6-foot-5, 250-pound defensive lineman was a relative unknown a year

ago, but shot up the recruiting rankings following a stellar senior

season that included 160 tackles and 14 sacks.

Mississippi State was one of the few schools that recruited him

before he became such a hot commodity, and that early confidence

was rewarded when the Bulldogs were able to fight off several other

suitors over the final weeks and sign him.

Jones is a 5-star recruit and the No. 2 defensive end recruit in

the country according to Rivals.com. The Bulldogs also landed two

4-star players – receiver Fred Ross (Tyler, Texas) and quarterback

Cord Sandberg (Bradenton, Fla.). Ross is a Parade All-American

while Sandberg is also considered an outstanding baseball


Mississippi State’s signing class doesn’t have a ton of marquee

names, but fifth-year coach Dan Mullen has never been a big fan of

recruiting rankings.

”A lot of people say Chris Jones might be the No. 1 player in

the country,” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. ”Six

months ago, he wasn’t on any of your lists.”

Jones could be the next in a growing line of quality Mississippi

State defensive lineman. Fletcher Cox, Pernell McPhee and Josh Boyd

have all been very productive under Mullen, which is one reason the

Bulldogs have had three straight winning seasons. Cox was a

first-round selection by the Philadelphia Eagles last season while

McPhee just helped the Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl.

Mullen said Ross is a receiver who could play right away because

of his skill level and the team’s current lack of depth. The 6-1,

200-pounder picked the Bulldogs over Oklahoma State and could help

take the place of departed seniors like Chad Bumphis and Chris

Smith. He was one of six receivers the Bulldogs signed and Mullen

said several could contribute quickly.

”There’s going to be some spots open,” Mullen said.

At 6-3 and 215 pounds, Sandberg has good size for an SEC

quarterback and the Bulldogs are excited about his future. But he’s

such a good baseball player that there’s some worry he’ll be

selected early in the Major League Baseball draft and elect to play

professionally instead of coming to Starkville.

Mullen said it was a good problem to have. There’s also the

possibility Sandberg could play both football and baseball at

Mississippi State.

”From getting to know Cord and his family, that’s a win-win

situation, Mullen said. ”If he gets drafted high (in the MLB

Draft) and goes in the first round, hey, I’m happy for him. That’s

a big deal.”

The Bulldogs also added three defensive backs in an effort to

help rebuild after losing Thorpe Award winning cornerback Jonathan

Banks to graduation.