In fact, there were more current and former Bulldogs watching than those actually going through the day’s events. Gabe Jackson, Tyler Russell, Rishun McCaleb, Denico Autry, Deontae Skinner, Nickoe Whitley, Charles Siddoway and LaDarius Perkins were all there for MSU, as well as former defensive end Sean Ferguson, eager for a chance to be seen by scouts.
Russell and Whitley both sat out the activities, as each is recovering from injury, but they were able to talk with scouts. Russell told me he’s ahead of schedule in his rehab on his shoulder and will hold a private session with scouts in April.
Jackson and Perkins, having already been tested and performed well at the NFL Combine, chose to only do agility and positional drills today.
Skinner and Siddoway both did considerably well for themselves, with Siddoway weighing in at 301 pounds, well over his playing weight of 270 when the 2013 season started. The weight gain is, of course, a good thing for an offensive tackle.
Though, before any of the testing began, Dan Mullen met with the scouts from 24 teams and went over every MSU player in attendance, breaking down their abilities, character, history and future.
“When you get a Mississippi State player,” Mullen told them, “you get a guy who’s going to work hard and do everything he can for the team, and we’re proud of that.”
Times and numbers for each event aren’t all compiled, but several performances were noted, particularly in the weight room portion with the broad jump, vertical jump and bench press.
We missed 40-yard dash times as we taped interviews, but the one available is on Skinner, who impressed scouts with a 4.68 forty, a 9’9″ broad jump and a 31-inch vertical. He also made a superb one-handed catch on his deep pass in linebacker drills.
“I really like Deontae,” Mullen told the scouts beforehand. “He’s a great kid, great player. He is, to me, what our program is all about. He’s a program guy.”
At 275 pounds, Autry registered a 9’7″ broad jump and a 29 1/2-inch vertical, both of which were good numbers for his size as a defensive end.
Mullen spoke a bit about Autry’s journey and how highly-recruited he was coming out of junior college. While Autry admitted frustrations with his performance, Mullen said it never affected him.
“When you watch him in practice,” Mullen said, “that never slowed him down. That shows great character. Great motor, great energy.”
Siddoway, the final of the current players to participate fully, seemed to impress scouts with his footwork and bulked up frame, as well as his 26 reps on the bench press and his 8’6″ broad jump.
Perkins and Jackson only went in the final drills at the end, but they are the two biggest prospects, with Jackson a potential first or second rounder.
“Gabe’s as good as they come to me,” Mullen said. “He’s special.”
For Perkins, Mullen talked about his injury history, saying it slowed the running back in his senior year. He viewed Perkins as a player just starting to reach his potential, saying he was an every-down back when healthy, was great in pass protection and was one of the best pass-catchers on the team, regardless of position.
“He can do it all,” Mullen said.
The two recovering players, Russell and Whitley, were only able to talk with coaches, but Mullen had compliments to share for each.
“Tyler’s a great kid,” he told the scouts after describing his game on the field. “You’ll be happy if you give him an opportunity on your team.”
For Whitley, Mullen went into great detail on the character and leadership of the safety who turned down ACL surgery so he wouldn’t have to let his teammates down in his senior season. The very surgery which would’ve had him ready to perform today.
“He’s graduating with his Master’s this spring, but I don’t think he likes people to know that because it ruins his street cred,” Mullen joked. “Extremely, extremely intelligent guy. He sacrificed his future for the good of the team and won two games for us almost by himself at the end of the season.”
We’ll soon have video highlights and interviews with several of the players there, including Johnthan Banks who watched from the side, which I’ll embed at the top of this post once it’s online.