Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen got an early start on the 2017 Bulldog signing class as eight elite junior college prospects signed National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA’s mid-year signing period.
All eight of the players are tabbed in the Top 100 of Scout.com and 247Sports junior college rankings. Five of the eight prospects are ranked in the top 50, including the No. 1 safety in America in Johnathan Abram of Columbia, Miss.
“We are very excited about the new Bulldogs we signed today,” Mullen said. “When you look at this group and with the young team we had this year, there are a lot of guys that have the opportunity to contribute right away, especially on the defensive side of the ball. It’s a huge advantage to have this group begin classes in January and go through spring practice and summer conditioning with us. It will put them in a position to make an impact when we begin camp in August.”
The Bulldogs are expected to sign several high school early enrollees, which will be announced on the first day of classes at Mississippi State on Jan. 9. The regular signing period for football begins Wednesday, Feb. 1.
2017 MSU Football Junior College Signees
Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown (School)
Johnathan Abram DB 6-0 200 Columbia, Miss. (Jones County JC)
Lee Autry DL 6-2 315 Albemarle, N.C. (Itawamba CC)
Tommy Champion OL 6-5 330 Jackson, Miss. (Copiah-Lincoln CC)
Brian Cole DB 6-2 200 Saginaw, Mich. (East Miss. CC)
Jaquarius Landrews DB 5-11 190 Summit, Miss. (Copiah-Lincoln CC)
Tyre Phillips OL 6-5 355 Grenada, Miss. (East Mississippi CC)
Deion Pope DL 6-3 300 Collins, Miss. (Copiah-Lincoln CC)
Montez Sweat DL 6-6 240 Stone Mountain, Ga. (Copiah-Lincoln CC)
Johnathan Abram, DB, 6-0, 200, Columbia, Miss. (Jones County JC)
Junior College: The No. 1 junior college safety in America who is no stranger to SEC football … Consensus four-star prospect … Among all JUCO prospects ranked No. 10 overall by 247Sports and No. 25 overall by Scout.com … Spent one season at Jones County and made 23 tackles, including 2.5 for loss to go along with one pass breakup and one forced fumble … Also saw some action at quarterback in “Wildcat” formations … 2015: Appeared in 10 games and made four starts at Georgia … Collected 25 tackles and one tackle for loss … Had five tackles vs. No. 11 Florida … Collected four tackles at Tennessee … Made his first college start against South Carolina, finishing with four tackles … Originally enrolled at Georgia in January 2015 … High School: Prepped at East Marion, coached by Kevin Jackson … 2014 MAC Defensive Player of the Year … A three-star prospect by ESPN.com, Scout.com and 247Sports and No. 14 overall prospect in the state of Mississippi … Enrolled early at UGA to participate in 2015 spring practice … Returned an interception for a touchdown in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star game … Led East Marion to a 10-5 record and a berth in the 2014 2A Mississippi state semifinal game … Played quarterback in addition to safety for East Marion … Finished his junior season with 88 total tackles, five interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery as well as 1,288 rushing yards, 19 rushing yards, 1,737 passing yards and 21 passing touchdowns … Two-sport athlete who was a three-time varsity player for the baseball team.
Lee Autry, DL, 6-2, 315, Albermarle, N.C. (Itawamba CC)
Junior College: A powerful defensive lineman and a four-star prospect according to ESPN.com … The second-best junior college defensive tackle in the nation according to ESPN.com and No. 3 at his position by 247Sports … The 21st overall player out of the JUCO ranks according to ESPN.com … A member of ESPN’s JC50 … Considered the No. 90 overall JUCO prospect according to Scout.com … Received three stars by 247Sports and Scout.com … Totaled 47 tackles in his two seasons at Itawamba, picking up 12.5 behind the line of scrimmage … Also amassed five sacks … High School: A three-star prospect out of Albermarle High School … Ranked as the 33rd-best defensive tackle in the nation out of high school and the 20th best in North Carolina … Personal: Brother is current Oakland Raider and former MSU defensive lineman (2012-13) Denico Autry.
Tommy Champion, OL, 6-5, 330, Jackson, Miss. (Copiah-Lincoln CC)
Junior College: The fifth-best offensive tackle in the nation out of junior college according to 247Sports … A consensus three-star prospect … Rated No. 96 on Scout.com’s JUCO Top 100 list … Earned first-team all-state honors in 2016 at Co-Lin … High School: Attended Callaway High School … A consensus four-star prospect out of high school who originally committed to MSU … Rated as the seventh-best player in the state of Mississippi by 247.
Brian Cole, DB, 6-2, 200, Saginaw, Mich. (East Miss. CC)
Junior College: One of the top five junior college safeties in America according to 247 Sports and Scout.com … No. 47 on Scout.com’s JUCO Top 100 overall list and No. 84 on 247Sports … Recorded 54 tackles with one sack and three forced fumbles in 2016 at East Miss. CC … Returned one fumble for a touchdown and also blocked three kicks … 2015: Played three games at wide receiver and on special teams at the University of Michigan and caught one pass in his debut against Utah … High School: A four-star prospect out of Heritage High School where he was coached by Don Maloney… Signed with Michigan and was the No. 1 player in the state of Michigan according to 247Sports and ESPN.com … Rated the No. 1 wide receiver prospect in Michigan before making the switch to defensive back in junior college.
Jaquarius Landrews, DB, 5-11, 190, Summit, Miss. (Copiah-Lincoln CC)
Junior College: A consensus three star prospect out of the junior college ranks … Ranked the No. 83 overall junior college prospect by Scout.com and the No. 93 overall by 247Sports … High School: Saw action in 26 games over his four-year varsity career at McComb High School, playing both offense and defense … Rushed for an average of 8.0 yards per carry over the course of his varsity career … As a senior, rushed for 872 yards on 103 carries with three 100+ yard games … Also had 424 career receiving yards and five touchdowns.
Tyre Phillips, OL, 6-5, 355, Grenada, Miss. (East Miss. CC)
Junior College: Standout offensive lineman who played in 11 games with East Mississippi CC in 2016, anchoring a line that helped the Lions to an 11-1 record … Named to the All-Region 23 squad as well as the MACJC All-State/North First Team … Regarded as the best guard in the JUCO ranks by 247Sports and the fourth-best by ESPN.com … Ranked the No. 80 overall junior college prospect by 247Sports and No. 97 overall by Scout.com … High School: Prepped at Grenada High School.
Deion Pope, DL, 6-3, 300, Collins, Miss. (Copiah-Lincoln CC)
Junior College: Rated as the second-highest junior college defensive tackle prospect in the nation by 247 Sports and the nation’s No. 24 overall JUCO prospect … Ranked No. 40 overall on Scout.com … A consensus three-star prospect and a member of ESPN’s JC50 … Earned second-team all-state honors in 2016 after recording 51 tackles, seven tackles for loss and one sack … In 2015, tallied 42 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks … High School: Led Collins High School in tackles his senior year.
Montez Sweat, DL, 6-6, 240, Stone Mountain, Ga. (Copiah-Lincoln CC)
Junior College: Talented pass rusher considered the sixth-best junior college defensive end prospect in the nation according to 247 Sports and is listed No. 43 on Scout.com’s Top 100 prospects … No. 47 on 247Sports’ Top 100 JUCO recruits … A three-star recruit who posted 39 tackles with six for loss in 2016 at Co-Lin … Also recorded five sacks, forced two fumbles and grabbed one interception … 2014: Appeared in two games at defensive end in his first season at Michigan State (vs. Jacksonville State and Eastern Michigan) … In his collegiate debut, collected four tackles, including a half sack (2 yards), against Jacksonville State … High School: Ranked one of the top tight ends in the nation coming out of Stephenson High School, the home of former Bulldog and current Washington Redskin Preston Smith … Recorded 33 tackles, including six for losses with one sack, in 12 games his senior season playing for Coach Ron Gartrell … Helped lead Stephenson to a 9-3 record and the round of 16 in the Georgia high school state playoffs … Also played basketball and averaged 12.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks as a senior.