Signing Day Special: Coaches scouting reports on Mississippi State signees

As national signing day goes along, so will we here on the HailState Beat, and part of that will involve what I think is a pretty cool little deal for the big day.

Beginning in the wee hours of the morning, prospective student-athletes across the country can officially become signees, ensuring their future as Bulldogs at Mississippi State.

As players sign, I’ll be at the football offices and I’ll update the blog with thoughts from one the coaches on their newest signee.

I’ll update this same post with each new signee, so just refresh the page and you’ll be able to find the newest information.

Now, some coaches are more talkative than others and some players were recruited by coaches who won’t be coaching them at their college position, so if a quote seems too short, too long or like it’s from an odd coach, now you know why.

Oh, and while you’re here, make sure you check out the signing day show on HailStateTV. The guys have a pretty sweet setup and a lot of fun stuff planned throughout the morning.

Fred Ross, wide receiver

From wide receivers coach Tim Brewster: “Fred is really, I think, one of the top wide receivers in the country. He’s a guy with great length and he’s got tremendous strength. He’s got extremely strong hands. His ability to go up and use his body and make plays on the ball are outstanding, and he’s also really good after the catch. Extremely strong runner after the catch. Does a great job blocking the perimeter. I think he’s an extremely complete wide receiver at this point in time. He’s a Parade All-American. He really is gonna help us as far as the size of our wide receivers. We went into this class with the idea of getting longer, getting taller, getting stronger, and Fred fits the bill perfectly for what we were looking for in an SEC receiver. Big, strong, physical, fast guy.”

DeRunnya Wilson, wide receiver

From defensive coordinator Geoff Collins: “He’s like a playground legend over there in basketball. Played football a little bit his freshman year, didn’t play his sophomore or junior year, then they got him back out his senior year and might have been one of the better receivers in the state of Alabama last year. If he had played four years, I think he might be one of the bets country. 6-5, 205, great ball skills. The neat thing, for a kid that plays basketball, how physical he is. He’ll block, do all the extra things that you want him to do.”

From wide receivers coach Tim Brewster: “Derunnya is a unique guy for me, in that he didn’t play football since his freshman year in high school. Played as a senior. But here’s a guy, 6’5”, 210 pounds, extremely athletic. Was runner-up for Mr. Basketball in the state of Alabama last year. I think combines great athleticism with a unique brand of toughness. He’s a very physical wide receiver. I think, as we move forward, he’s a guy that’s truly gonna create mismatch problems for the defense. How you’re gonna play a guy that tall. 35-inch vertical jump, extremely long. 36 inch arms in length. His catching radius is absolutely huge.

So, again, very excited about his length and his athleticism and he brings a fierce competitor to our football team. A very outstanding basketball player and he’s a tremendous competitor on the basketball floor, and that translates to the football field. A lot of guys, it doesn’t translate. I think he’s a guy that has unlimited potential.”

Chris Jones, defensive end

From defensive line coach David Turner: “He’s got a chance to be a difference guy, a difference-maker. Athletic, tall, rangy, can run. I mean, he’s kind of an athletic freak. As he grows and matures into his body, I think he has a chance to be a really good player.”

Donald Gray, wide receiver

From wide receivers coach Tim Brewster: “I think Donald is truly one of the, well, he’s an explosive athlete. He’s a play-maker. He’s a guy that when he touches the ball he has an opportunity to do something big with it every time he touches it. Prolific playmaker in high school. We love his versatility. Catches the ball extremely well. Attacks the ball when it’s in the air. Plays with tremendous confidence and intelligence. He really plays. He understand route running. He plays the game with a good knowledge and understanding about how to work the defense. He’s just an extremely dynamic playmaker, that’s who Donald Gray is.”

Ashton Shumpert, running back

From tight ends coach Scott Sallach: “Ashton is a Coach Mullen, Coach Balis type of guy. He’s a blue-collar, roll up your sleeves, work hard type of guy. He loves competition. Loves trying to make himself a better player. His coaches talk about after practice how he stays to work on things. He’s the type of guy who strives to excel at everything he does. He’s the type of guy you want to be a part of your program, just the way he carries himself on and off the field. The attention to detail he has in all aspects of his life. Obviously a great football player, but to me, what makes him so much of a Mississippi State guy is his all-around attributes. Not just his athletic attributes.”

Gabe Myles, athlete

From safeties coach Tony Hughes: “Gabe’s a very athletic kid. Played quarterback at Starkville High School, led his team to the state championship, had some injuries early in the season. Had an ankle injury and was able to overcome that and still lead his team. He’s a multi-purpose athlete. Can do a lot of different things. I think we’re projecting him to play possibly on the defensive side of the ball, start out at corner. He has excellent feet, excellent speed, really a work ethic kid, the type of kid that we like to bring in our program.

Great family background, daddy played here, momma is very professional lady and we think he’s gonna be a highly successful man in life and also be an asset to this program with his work ethic, his leadership, his attitude and his athletic ability. It’s a great combination that we think we’re getting and not only a fine football player, but a fine young man to help elevate our program.”

Damian Williams, quarterback

From Rockey Felker, Director of player Personnel: “He can do a lot of things as a quarterback. He’s a dual-threat running the ball. He’s tough. He’s a physical guy with the ball in his hand. He can throw the heck out of the ball. He’s got a strong arm. We were impressed that he’s a dual-guy and the fact that, obviously, he won the state championship. That impressed us with his leadership ability. He’s a guy we’re excited to have join the program.”

Shelby Christy, wide receiver

From Rockey Felker, Director of player Personnel: “Very intelligent young man. Gives us some size at receiver that we haven’t had. We loved him in camp. He’s a guy that did very well in camp. Showed great hands, ability to make plays. His size, the height that he has, with the intelligence. Very intelligent guy, smart, so he’s a guy that we’re looking to come in and play as a freshman.”

Kent Flowers, offensive lineman

From Rockey Felker, Director of player Personnel: “Kent’s a very talented player. He can play guard or tackle. We think he’s a left tackle. He’s athletic, he’s left-handed, he’s a guy that we’re excited about. Very talented, probably one of the most talented players we signed. The future is awfully bright for him.”

B.J. Hammond, wide receiver

From defensive coordinator Geoff Collins: “He’s one of our, all along, the top recruits on the board. For whatever reason, might not have gained all the attention he should have, but he’s gonna be really good. 6-4, 220, and he can run and catch. He can run his mouth, too, which is good. He’s got a lot of confidence, a lot of swag. We’re all excited about him.”

Brandon Wells, athlete

From safeties coach Tony Hughes: “An athlete, but he was a running back/defensive back. He’s tall, rangy, 6’1”, 170-180 pounds. Excellent feet. Timed at camp, he was one of the fastest players that came to our camp. Brandon, again, we’ve had a lot of success with athletes from small towns, and that’s what he is. Fast, good size, one of the best players on his high school team who goes deep in the playoffs every year. Winner. We’ve had a lot of success with these type of kids. We feel like, when we sign these types of kids, we improve ourselves athletically and we can match-up with the Alabamas and LSUs and all those people.”

Jake Thomas, offensive lineman

From Rockey Felker, Director of player Personnel: “Jake’s a lineman that we’ve been following at Columbus High, really, since his freshman year. He’s a guy that can play a lot of different places. He can end up being a tackle. He can play either tackle or guard for us, could even be a center. He’s a very smart, intelligent guy. Tough, physical guy. We think the future is very bright with him, and the fact that he’s so versatile and smart, he’s a guy we’re excited about.”

Tolando Cleveland, defensive back

From defensive coordinator Geoff Collins: “We’re excited about him. He’s another one that came to camp. Every camp he went to this past summer, he got a scholarship offer. He didn’t do a lot of the combines. Didn’t do all those things that elevates certain kids’ status, but he’s a kid that, when he came to camp, he was one of the bets kids we had on campus the whole time. We’re excited about him, and he’s a really smart kid, too.”

From cornerbacks coach Deshea Townsend: “Tolando Cleveland is a smart player who has instincts. Great ball skills. High-points the ball very well. Great student, 3.7 GPA. This will be a good addition to us, he’ll be able to play either the safety or corner position.”

Dezmond Harris, linebacker

From defensive coordinator Geoff Collins: “We had a lot of linebackers in the Southeastern Conference come to camp, and what he did at camp physically, moving, height-weight, vertical jump, was better than all of them. So, he’s listed as a negative-star, a two-star, whatever-star, I have no idea, but we had a bunch of four-star kids this summer, he blew them away. Benardrick McKinney didn’t have really any offers coming out of high school and he was a consensus All-American, so hopefully the evaluation will pull through on that one.”

Cord Sandberg, quarterback

From tight ends coach Scott Sallach: “Cord is another one of those guys who is fortunate enough that he might be a better person than he is a player. If I’m not mistaken, he was the two-time 7A player of the year in the state of Florida. They didn’t lose to a team in Florida until his senior year. They’re only losses were to top five teams. When you watch Cord, he’s like an ultimate winner.

The things that he does, on the field, are very impressive form that position that you’d like to see. I went to watch him play a game as a junior and it was a tight game against a rival team and in about eight plays on offense I think he threw two touchdowns and ran for another. As a coach you’re watching that and saying ‘This is the way that your quarterback is supposed to play the game.’ The ball, where it was placed, how he carried it, how he led them down the field, all those little things.

He’s another guy, his off the field might be better. Listening to his coaches talk about the respect his teammates had for him. His team had a lot of success and had a lot of prominent, Division I players, and how they followed him and how he went about his business I think was a big factor in the success that they had as a team. And shoot, he’s an all-around guy because of his off-field, he’s a dual-sport standout. Not a guy that plays two sports, a standout at both of them. All the people at that school just rave about the character, the leadership, the integrity. All those things that you want to be part of your program.

Him and [] are two guys I could see down the road Coach Mullen saying, this is what Mississippi State football is all about. Very similar to a Charles Mitchell, a Johnthan Banks, type of character guys. I hate comparing them to other people because those kids were here, they did it, they had unbelievable careers and it’s not fair to guys that haven’t stepped foot in or been through one MSU workout. I see them potentially as those type of guys.”

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