Over the next several weeks here on the HailState Beat we’ll be running a new football-related series each week, a series of series’ if you will, and we start this week with Rising Stars: names you need to know before the season starts. Some of these will be more obvious than others, but the goal will be to single out the players you may not have heard of or who have yet to make a big name for themselves on the field, in no particular order, who will be stars by late November.
Today’s Rising Star: junior linebacker Deontae Skinner
His is a star that may have already risen, but the linebacker/defensive end hybrid seemed to fly under the radar last year, getting outshone (see what I did there?) on a defense that included Fletcher Cox, Johnthan Banks and Cam Lawrence, among others.
So, let’s play a little game here. A blind taste test, but without the tasting. I’ll list four stat lines of some of Mississippi State’s top defenders from last year, and we’ll see if we can guess who they are. Naturally, one of these is Skinner. Away we go.
- Player A: 71 tackles, eight tackles for loss, three sacks and three forced fumbles
- Player B: 51 tackles, eight tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks
- Player C: 69 tackles, nine tackles for loss and two forced fumbles
- Player D: 94 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, .5 sacks and one forced fumble
Ready for the answers? Scroll down a little bit. (This is to prevent accidental cheating, talk amongst yourselves.)
- A – Johnthan Banks: 71 tackles, eight tackles for loss, three sacks and three forced fumbles
- B – Josh Boyd: 51 tackles, eight tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks
- C – Deontae Skinner: 69 tackles, nine tackles for loss and two forced fumbles
- D – Brandon Wilson: 94 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, .5 sacks and one forced fumble
What does it all mean? Well, now that I’ve written this out, I think it means I shouldn’t have put Skinner in a rising stars list.
He is certainly, however, “On the rise,” as his head coach might say. Of those nine tackles for loss in 2011, over half of them (5.5) came in the final four games, including top-five teams Alabama and Arkansas, as MSU media relations extraordinaire and noted SANDSTORM enthusiast Kyle Niblett so wisely pointed out on Twitter.
Skinner’s level of play is likely to keep trending upward in 2012, and he will once again have the benefit of playing alongside talents like Banks, Boyd, Lawrence, Denico Autry, Corey Broomfield, Nickoe Whitley and Monday’s Rising Star Benardrick McKinney.
His star has not yet reached it’s brightest point, but seats on the Deontae Skinner bandwagon will fill up quick. Hop on.