It is July 16th and fall camp is around the corner. The Bulldogs are set at many key positions, particularly quarterback, as returning redshirt Junior Nick Fitzgerald is primed for another great season after showing out as a Redshirt sophomore in 2016.

Even with several key contributors coming back for the boys in maroon, there are still question marks heading into camp.

Without debate, it is obvious that the three biggest areas of concern are: the defensive line, the wide receiver corp and the offensive line. We take a look at the questions surrounding these particular position groups and hopefully provide a reason for optimism for the upcoming season.

Defensive Line

  The concern:

There is no doubt the main question everyone has about the defensive line is about leadership. The number of seniors expected to start with their hand in the dirt? ZERO. That is concerning to many and certainly a well-warranted worry. 

Why you shouldn’t be concerned:

One name: Jeffery Simmons. This kid will be a one-man wrecking crew, and players seem to be following him already. If he produces like he is expected to, then being a sophomore will not stop him from providing the leadership needed to make up for the lack of upperclassmen. Secondly, the Bulldogs have recruited well on the defensive line in recent years, and the added depth should produce new stars.

     Wide Receiver 

      The Concern:

Where will the deep threat come from? This is a very legitimate concern. There is no question that Donald Gray has the potential to be a threat, but there is always that need for a tall guy who can really go up and get the ball when a play is needed. Donald will be dangerous, but most agree he is not going to provide that “go up and get it” threat. Gabe Myles is a great kid and can be a very good player however he tends to have times when he struggles with drops. Myles is much more dangerous in the slot where we can get him the ball quick and let him get up field.

Why you shouldn’t be concerned:

          There is talent at the position, albeit unproven. The main reason I am not overly concerned is the simple fact that, since Dan Mullen has been the head coach at Mississippi State, it seems someone always steps up to be at least serviceable as a deep threat. I would like to add that we should be good at the slot position. Keith Mixon is dangerous and Myles will play the slot some as well. It would be great to get Malik Dear back, but I am not expecting that, due to an ACL injury during Spring Practice. Having good play at the slot will hopefully allow for more opportunities downfield with the deep ball.

Offensive Line

The Concern:

I am not nearly as worried about the offensive line as many seem to be. There is one HUGE question mark for me on the offensive line: right tackle. Will it be Greg Eiland? Maybe Stewart Reese? What about a newcomer? The main concern is at this point we really don’t have anyone who has stood out at that position.

    Why you shouldn’t be concerned:

As I stated, I am not nearly as concerned with our offensive line as many are. For several reasons. First, as awful a recruiter as many say John Hevesy is (and his track record doesn’t negate those accusations), he is really a pretty good coach. Players that he coaches rave about his ability to teach technique. I think he will develop someone to be the right tackle who, at the very least, will not be a huge liability. Secondly, we will have a possible All-American candidate at Left tackle. The last time that was the case (Derrick Sherrod), we were very good along the offensive line.  Thirdly, Elgton Jenkins playing in the interior is huge for us. It looks like he will be our starting center, and coaches speak highly of his football IQ. There is no doubt that during the course of the season last year Jenkins was much better in the interior than at the tackle position.

There are without a doubt questions going into the 2017 season, but there are more answers than questions. I expect the Bulldog faithful will be pleasantly surprised as this season progresses.