STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) – A total of 13 prospects from the state of Mississippi make up the 23-man #StateTeam18 as new Mississippi State football head coach Joe Moorhead hauled in a Top 25 signing class on Wednesday.
Moorhead, who was named the program’s 33rd head coach two months ago, received eight National Letters of Intent on the first day of the regular signing period. The Bulldogs already secured 15 signees in December, representing the most early signees of any of the new coaching staffs in the SEC.
Moorhead’s first signing class was ranked as high as No. 25 by Rivals.com. 247Sports.com and ESPN.com tabbed MSU’s class No. 27 in their respective rankings. State signed the top six players in the state of Mississippi as ranked by 247Sports.com. MSU also hauled in five players from the state of Louisiana, its most from the state since at least 2000 when 247Sports.com began its rankings system.
#StateTeam18 Hometown State Breakdown:
#StateTeam18 By Position Breakdown:
Below are quotes from Moorhead’s press conference.
Joe Moorhead Press Conference
February 7, 2018
“Welcome to Signing Day, part two. I’m very excited today to add eight new members to our football family to the 15 that signed in December. I think it’s a credit to our coaching staff, our recruiting staff, and everybody involved with selling our vision and our plan to the players and their families. So, once again, all of the credit goes to those people and what they’ve done to make this class a tremendous success. We had about 13 in-state prospects. By one recruiting service, six of the top players in the state of Mississippi. (We have) 11 on offense, 12 on defense. Throughout the month of January and the past six weeks, I think we’ve done a great job getting out to the high schools in the state of Mississippi, creating and developing relationships with the coaches and selling them on their vision of our program and letting them know why the best players in the state of Mississippi need to stay home and play for the state university and help us win a SEC Championship and compete for a national championship.”
On National Signing Day being complete …
“Recruiting is very exciting. It’s a great day for these young men and for their families and it’s a combination of a lot of years of hard work and dedication for them to be able to have this day and celebrate. They certainly earned that. So, we’re excited. Two, it kind of makes it a little bit different from the structural standpoint. We want this to be a day of celebration for the kids and their families. Once this finishes and we get into next week, we’ll have the option to sit down and start on installing our offense, defense and special teams plans and get together with our kids to work on opportunities.”
On evaluations on offense cycle…
“With the entire roster, not just specifically the offensive line, we do this by number now. With the 85 scholarships, you know what you need at each position, what your ideal number is and every staff does it differently. So, for us, it was a balancing act of making sure that we get the best players, possible, at the necessary positions and at the same time trust some of the balances just where they occur. Last year, I think three or four sign and then only one on campus then certainly we’re going to add to this class. So it’s something that we address to the best of our ability for this class, the one we’re going to have to work on moving forward.”
On Starkville offensive lineman Kameron Jones…
“I think Coach Jones and his staff have done a tremendous job of developing Kameron. He’s a guy that has been at camp here and we got a lot of positive feedback from our coaches on the staff. I think he’s a guy, in a year’s time, he’s really developed. He’s put on weight. He’s up to 295 pounds now. He played in the Mississippi-Alabama game and did a really good job there. So, we already had a lot of familiarity with and when the opportunity presented itself to get him in the full. We’re a little excited to get over.”
On defensive tackle Fabien Lovett…
“Fabien is a tremendous talent. Our staff worked very hard to have a guy this talented join our team. It’s a testament to his belief and what we’re going to be all about moving forward to what we’ve done to get him here. He’s a guy that could play both positions, but he’s certainly a guy with his talent that we see competing for playing time immediately. He could play out at the end or a tackle position and that’s going to depend on him. But he’s a guy, from day one, that could come in here and compete for playing time immediately.”
On Esaias Furdge and Jaylon Reed…
“Two similar players in certain regard, taller guys, long, cover a lot of ground, great change in direction, great acceleration. You talk about roster and needs by number and what we will be graduating and moving forward, they are guys that we are very excited about from an athleticism standpoint, football IQ standpoint and certainly, playmaking ability.”
On Aaron Brule…
“Coach Shoop had known a lot about him and had recruited him at this time at Tennessee. A lot of the staff here had been working hard staying in touch with Aaron and when the opportunity presented itself. He’s a guy that is a big safety, can play linebacker, can move him all over the field and do a lot of things. He has other athletic abilities. We went to watch him play basketball, scored over 20 in the game that we saw him play. Very intelligent. Great communicator. All of the things, tangible and intangibles that you look for, he provides those.”
On Mississippi State brand advantage on recruiting…
“I think in state that we talk about our footprint which is surrounding the reason in the nationally the response to our coaching staff and our vision and our culture, and what we’re going to do here as a football program has been overwhelming positive. Our message to the coaches in state is there is no reason why the best of the best have to go anywhere else to play ball and telling them why staying here and playing at Mississippi State is a great opportunity academically, football wise and socially and great things can happen here and we can championships. The response has been tremendous.”
On momentum from the early signing period…
“I don’t know if it was necessarily momentum, you know certainly we had a bunch of highly ranked kids in the initial signing of 15, but there was a little of extended time period between the (December) 20th and now. What I think it allowed us to do, is have a more concentrated effort because it was a less in number, there was a lesser pool of kids out there because so many had decided to sign on the 20th. I think not as much momentum as it was the concentrated effort by our staff on the kids we targeted are the ones that we go after.”
On recruiting Nathaniel Watson…
“Just to mention, Nathaniel is a three-time state champion out of Alabama. He’s a big, strong, physical guy who can run, play wide receiver, play safety. He played some linebacker. He’s a guy that kind of likes to lead. He’s got a lot of versatility and can do a lot of things, but I don’t think it was anything incredibly unique that, very similar to what we did with the initial 15. We went in and continued to develop relationships and stay consistent with what our message is and what the culture’s going to be and how we see them fit in our scheme and how we’re going to develop them on the field, in the classroom and out in the community.
On new Signing Day format…
“I’m still about 50/50 with it. It’s certainly student-athlete driven and I can understand that. That’s a good reason for the implementation of a rule. But by the same token I think when we get through these spring official visit periods, coming forward here, I think I’ll have enough information kind of to get a non-kneejerk reaction. The student-athletes being able to sign on the 20th and get locked in, that’s great. Being able to focus your efforts moving forward to the second signing day. I think there will be some things moving forward that we need to evaluate as a staff to kind of see how the whole thing works in terms of a 30,000-foot view.”
On Cameron Young…
“He’s a big, strong, athletic fellow. You look at his junior film, he played mostly tight end. His senior tape, mostly end as well. He’s a guy that could do the same thing, play in, play inside. He’s grown a lot in the past year, but in the long run, you’ll never know. Sometimes the best offensive linemen are ones that get moved over from the other side of the ball. So, we’re going to keep that open-ended and see where his development takes him.”