If you could see the future, would you want to? I tend to believe it would ruin the present, even if there are some notable advantages to knowing what’s coming. Avoiding embarrassment and injury, for one. Making money off future Super Bowl winners, perhaps (NCAA reminder: Don’t Bet On It!).
But I feel like it would be considerably more fun to predict the future, using only the clues and hints available, rather than to know the future. The difference between magic and magic tricks, in a sense. It’s more impressive that way. Knowing what’s coming takes away all the fun of the ride, not to sound like a bad fortune cookie. Guessing what’s coming leaves room for adventure, adds a bit of risk and invokes more pride if you nail your prediction, though there’s no guarantee you’ll be right.
And in this instance, I’ll probably be wrong. At least somewhat. I did leave myself some easy calls in here.
But here’s the deal: these are all predictions for Mississippi State’s 2016 football season. I’m peering into the crystal ball where depth charts, injury reports and game recaps are floating through the fog, all in the name of making some guesses about what’s going to happen over the next four months (there’s a preview of one prediction: four months, not three).
Some are obvious – I never claimed to be intelligent – and some come from rumblings I hear around the program, observations over the offseason and plain guesswork coming from the slowly-firing synapses in my brain.
All of them are 100 percent guaranteed to maybe be right. Possibly.
- Senior receiver Fred Ross again leads MSU in receiving,
- But junior receiver Donald Gray is the breakout star of the receiving corps.
- Senior running back Ashton Shumpert silences some doubters,
- While senior running back Brandon Holloway leads all backs in all-purpose yards and touches,
- And sophomore running back Aeris Williams becomes everyone’s new favorite backup (and future starter).
- Senior defensive end Jonathan Calvin leads the team in sacks,
- Senior linebacker Richie Brown leads the team in tackles,
- And sophomore safety Brandon Bryant cements himself as one of the best defensive backs in the country, leading the team in interceptions.
- Junior cornerback Jamoral Graham gets at least one pick-six.
- Junior cornerback Lashard Durr gets a strong hold on his starting spot at corner.
- Freshman defensive back Maurice Smitherman sets himself up to be the next big star in the defensive backfield.
- Linebacker Gerri Green takes a huge step as a redshirt sophomore, garnering attention from NFL scouts.
- MSU’s front seven becomes feared by mid-season,
- Partially because of the variety of looks and attacks,
- Partially because of the deep, athletic group of linebackers,
- And largely because of the nearly-1,000-pound defensive line trio of Nelson Adams, Nick James and Jeff Simmons gobbling up offensive linemen,
- All aided by the attention drawn by senior end A.J. Jefferson, who shaves his beard, much to the dismay of humans everywhere.
- MSU increases its team sack total considerably.
- Forced turnovers see an uptick, too, thanks largely to the previously mentioned Bryant.
- Center Jamaal Clayborn is again one of the most underrated players on the team.
- Junior receiver Gabe Myles joins him on the list by season’s end.
- Sophomore receiver Malik Dear becomes MSU’s best mismatch,
- While freshman receiver Keith Mixon makes highlight-reel plays 50 percent of the time he touches the ball,
- And fans complain that he doesn’t get more playing time,
- While coaches patiently explain that he’s just a freshman and has to get a grasp of the entire offense, but yes, he is pretty good, isn’t he?
- Tight end becomes a position of depth and strength by season’s end.
- The quarterback position is settled by the off week,
- And opens back up after the bowl game.
- Oh, MSU goes to its seventh-straight bowl game, adding to the current program-record streak of six.
- And finally, junior kicker Westin Graves finishes the season with the most points-responsible-for on the team.