Arnett And Staff Add More Talent To Top-25 Class
(NOTE: You can watch the head coach of football Zach Armett‘s full National Signing Day press conference by clicking the play button in the photo above.)
STARKVILLE – In the last few weeks Jonathan Davis is one of the most in-demand recruits in the state of Mississippi. Many came asking for the services of the Lawrence County High defenseman and ninth-ranked 247Sports player at Magnolia State.
Then on Wednesday came National Signing Day. It was time for Davis to decide.
The final result? His choice fell on maroon and white.
Davis officially became one of eight new MSU players Wednesday, joining another high school signee will jamesas well as transfers Ryland Gode, Mike Wright, Yes, Kobi Albert, Chris Key, Nick Barr-Mira and Freddie Roberson. The eight are in a Bulldog signing class ranked in the top 25 by three of the country’s major recruitment services – 247Sports, Rivals and On3.
All were great accomplishments for State, beginning with Davis, whose signing was further proof of how appealing it is to play on the defensive line for MSU and how new the head coach is Zach Armett and the staff are doing everything they can to lock up Mississippi’s best players.
With the addition of Davis, 12 of 247Sports’ top 25 players in Mississippi have signed on to join MSU, giving the Bulldogs more Mississippi talent from the current class than any other school in the country.
“Incredibly excited to add [Davis] to the family,” Arnett said. “People are like, ‘Man, you hit some big programs for Davis.’ Well, we’re a big program too – especially when you’re talking about this position. This is D-Line U.”
D-line U indeed – a claim the world will see in just over a week when four Bulldogs – including defenders Chris Jones and Fletcher Cox – are set to take on the biggest stage in all of football at Super Bowl Sunday. Now Davis begins his own journey to try and become the next star on the state’s defense front.
It didn’t hurt the Bulldogs’ cause on signing day that MSU had been there well ahead of most others prior to Davis’ stock surge in recent days.
“[Assistant coach] Tony Hughes…he actually got me into Lawrence County High School [weeks ago]’ Arnett explained. “Tony said, ‘There’s one guy who flies under the radar, but he’s an SEC football player who might end up being a future Sunday player. We have seen him personally. We evaluated him beforehand, recruited him and that went a long way towards signing him. Many other schools were late to the party, wanting to get in and steal something from the state of Mississippi. We were there first. I’m incredibly proud of him and his family for staying with us.”
While Davis’ pickup was great for State, that wasn’t nearly the only good news from Wednesday. The seven others who have signed have the potential to make quite a splash in their Bulldog careers as well.
James is a three-star defenseman from Theodore High in Grand Bay, Alabama. He comes to Starkville with rave reviews.
“He’s an instinctive player,” Arnett said of James. “He does some things naturally that you don’t train, which is always nice. He has good speed. He has ball skills to play with the ball in the air… Every coach we’ve reached [about James], we couldn’t find a guy who had anything negative to say about him. Everyone we spoke to said, ‘Man, this guy’s an SEC football player. This guy is a steal. You gotta get on this guy.'”
Then there were the six transfers, all of which met the vital needs of the state. Wright brings starting experience from the Southeastern Conference to MSU’s quarterback room after spending the last three years at Vanderbilt. Roberson brings depth and tremendous talent to the Dawgs’ welcoming corps after four fantastic seasons in East Washington, where he has been an All-Big Sky selection for each of the last three years. Barr-Mira has been UCLA’s main kicker since 2020. He has now brought his skills south from Hollywood to Stark Vegas.
Goede remains a Bulldog but transitions from the Georgia breed to the Mississippi State breed. The tight end’s transfer shows the new creases being created on the MSU offense, courtesy of coordinator Kevin Barbay.
“To get [Goede] is huge,” said Arnett. “We want to have the ability to play with a tight end on the field at times… There are some things that you can do when you’re running the football and playing pass protection and passing play than that Ability to put a tight round or two on the field poses problems for the defense and forces them to decide in which staff groups they will play. Being able to get a close finish on the field was huge for us.”
While Goede fuels the state offensive, MSU’s defense should be bolstered with the transfers of Albert from Kentucky and Keys from Indiana. You will contribute to the experience in secondary school after the graduation of names like Jalen Green, Jackie Matthews, Collin Duncan and Emmanuel Forbes.
“We lost quite a bit of veteran power in high school, especially in the security room,” Arnett said. “Three guys played most of the snaps last year. We have Shawn Preston back, but you always lose so much experience [it’s a big deal]. When it comes to college football games, there’s a lot to be said for just lining up and knowing the physicality and speed that you’ll face each week. So go out there and get some people who participated in those battles [is big].”
Time will tell the impact of all the new Bulldogs, but that’s for sure. They all have the opportunity to achieve both team and individual success in the state of Mississippi. It was like this. The proof is in the pudding.
Arnett intends to continue this in the years to come by focusing on ensuring all talent in and around Mississippi remains aware that the stepping stone to their dreams is in Starkville.
“According to my most recent tally, 28 Bulldogs play in the NFL, and 19 of those 28 played either high school football in Mississippi or the junior college system,” Arnett said. “I think it’s appropriate to address this here on National Signing Day because we intend that the best players in the state of Mississippi — both the high school and junior college systems — don’t have to look anywhere but here for the best spot.” to develop them on and off the field. That’s our ultimate goal – to recruit the best players in this state and the surrounding states in our footprint and keep them right here in the state of Mississippi, because within that footprint there are football players pretty much anywhere in the country, by a whole gamut of Winning games and competing and winning in the SEC West.