With the highly anticipated 2018-2019 Mississippi State football season exactly 100 days away, the hype continues to build. Fans in Starkville have high expectations for the new head coach in town, Joe Moorhead. While Joe Moorhead has proven that he can operate a stellar offense, it must not be forgotten that Dan Mullen left a star-studded roster for Moorhead to inherit. In fact, nine of these players were named to the All-SEC Preseason Teams by Athlon Sports.
QB Nick Fitzgerald- Fourth Team
Although Nick Fitzgerald is coming off of an injury, it is easy to see that his senior season could be a special one. In 2017, he had 2,766 total yards while averaging 230.5 yards per game which was third in the SEC. While he has tremendous speed, toughness, and arm strength, there is room for improvement when it comes to his deep ball accuracy. Although Fitzgerald posseses great athletic ability, the most impressive thing about him is his leadership. Last season, he was carted off of the field after a gruesome ankle injury in the first quarter of the Egg Bowl, and instead of staying in the locker room with the medical staff, Fitzgerald got some crutches and returned to the sideline to cheer on his teammates. Let’s hope that Nick Fitzgerald looks like himself when he returns from his injury; if he does, you can expect to see him in New York for the Heisman Ceremony.
RB Aeris Williams- Second Team
After having his first 1,000 yard season on the ground last year, Aeris Williams is destined for greatness in 2018. He put up 1,249 yards of total offense in 2017, and that number is expected to climb under Joe Moorhead’s deadly offense. At 6’1 220 pounds, “A-Train” is the perfect combination of strength and quickness. With Kylin Hill backing him up, the Bulldogs could have one of the deadliest one-two punches in the country next year.
OL Elgton Jenkins- Fourth Team
Senior Elgton Jenkins is expected to be one of the leaders of the offensive line in 2018. Last year, Jenkins transitioned from left tackle to center, and he is expected to stay there for his final season as a Bulldog after doing a great job in 2017. Jenkins should be a steady anchor for the Bulldogs’ offense in the upcoming season.
OL Darryl Williams- Second Team
After a fantastic 2017 season at left guard, Darryl Williams is surrounded by high expectations his junior year. His best game last season was arguably against LSU, where he won SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week. Darryl Williams should have another great year at left guard in 2017.
OL Deion Calhoun- Fourth Team
After being a part of the great Mississipi State offensive line in 2017, Deion Calhoun hopes to be a part of one more highly talented offensive line for his final season wearing maroon and white. Calhoun had an amazing game last year when the Bulldogs played an entire game against Kentucky without giving up a sack. Expect the right guard to raise some eyebrows and his draft stock in 2018.
DL Montez Sweat- First Team
Montez Sweat will be a part of what is expected to be the best defensive line in the SEC next year. Last season, Sweat had a total of 10.5 sacks which led the SEC. His speed at 6’6 245 pounds is unbelievable, and it is the biggest reason that he gets as many sacks as he does. Hopefully Sweat will exceed expectations in his senior season under new defensive coordinator Bob Shoop.
DL Jeffery Simmons- First Team
Jeffery Simmons is a nightmare on the defensive line and on special teams. Last season, Simmons forced two fumbles and he had two fuble recoveries along with two touchdowns. If that isn’t enough, he recorded 60 tackles and 5 sacks last year. On special teams, Simmons accounted for two blocks. With Montez Sweat by his side, look for Jeffery Simmons to have a monster junior year.
S Mark McLaurin- Second Team
In case you don’t remember, Mark McLaurin had the game of his life in the TaxSlayer Bowl against Louisville where he had 3 interceptions against Heisman winner Lamar Jackson. McLaurin finished the season with six interceptions, which led the SEC. Expect him to make big plays throughout his senior season.
K Jace Christmann- Fourth Team
Kicking has seemed to be a reoccuring problem for the Bulldogs, but thanks to Jace Christmann that is a problem of the past. At the end of last season, Christmann was named to the All-American Freshman Team. Christmann went 12 for 14 last year, and his longest made field goal was 45 yards. Hopefully he will be just as consistent in 2017 as he was in 2018.
Cameron Dantzler, Jamal Peters, Johnathan Abram, Leo Lewis, Kylin Hill, and Chauncey Rivers