January 6, 2018 10:39:27 PM
STARKVILLE -- The Southeastern Conference's sack leader usually enjoys a lofty NFL draft selection.
Montez Sweat could have joined other college seniors and early draft entrants in April after leading the SEC with 10 1/2 sacks. Instead, he'll take one more year with the Bulldogs.
MSU's hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker announced Saturday he will return for his senior season, his second at MSU after transferring from Copiah-Lincoln Community College.
"In just one year, I've seen Starkville and Mississippi State are extremely special to me and so many people," Sweat said in a statement. "It's been a blessing in so many ways, and while we accomplished a lot in 2017, I know 2018 can be something special. With that being said, I am excited to announce I am returning to Mississippi State for my senior season in 2018. Can't wait to get back to work with my brothers! Hail State!"
Sweat also led MSU, which ranked fourth in the SEC in passing and rushing defense, in tackles for loss (15 1/2). He finished with 48 tackles, sixth on the team, four quarterback hurries, and a fumble recovery. He ended his season with three tackles for a loss and one sack of quarterback Lamar Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, in a 31-27 victory against Louisville in the TaxSlayer Bowl.
Sweat's return bolsters what figures to be a deep unit with junior Jeffery Simmons, who is from Macon, Braxton Hoyett, and Gerri Green.
Sweat will have to adapt to new defensive coordinator Bob Shoop's system. Shoop has been known to use four-man fronts compared to the three used by former MSU defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. However, in Grantham's system, Sweat was almost exclusively used on the line even when he was labeled an outside linebacker. Redshirt defensive end Chauncey Rivers, who played at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba, also could join the mix after sitting out this season.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson
1. Mississippi State hires new pitching coach COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Mullen embraces challenges of dream job at Florida COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Carter ready to put footwork to use during MSU career COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Walters column: Prep Football Countdown - Week 2 Questions HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS