STARKVILLE — Mississippi State defensive coordinator Chris Wilson made it clear Monday why junior linebacker Brandon Wilson is still where he is on the Bulldogs” opening week depth chart.
“He”s the starter and he”s earned it,” Wilson said. “He”s plays that way, competes that way, and shows up. I don”t care who plays. They”re all Xs at the end of the day.”
Brandon Wilson, no relation to the Bulldogs” top defensive coach, earned a scholarship for the first time in his MSU career after being a preferred walk-on for the first three seasons, including a redshirt campaign in 2008.
“I wanted to always be that guy and didn”t come here to just be a forgotten walk-on player,” Brandon Wilson said. “It”s rewarding and lets you know hard work does pay off. I”ve been working my butt the past three years, and I”m appreciative to receive that scholarship.”
Wilson had 17 tackles last season, including a career-high four in a 52-14 victory against the University of Michigan in the 2011 Gator Bowl. The highly publicized transfer of former Clemson University standout Brandon Maye could”ve been perceived as the MSU coaching staff feeling an upgrade was needed at the position.
Maye, who started at middle linebacker the previous three seasons at Clemson, was relegated to third-team duty early in fall camp, but he has slowly moved his way up MSU”s depth chart as he learns the defensive playbook.
“The great thing (about Maye) is he”s had five years of snapshots, so when you compare him to even a Brandon Wilson he”s seen it so many times,” Chris Wilson said. “I think he can play a lot of different positions.”
MSU linebackers coach Geoff Collins has downplayed the battle at middle linebacker, saying he”ll likely play a rotation of “six or seven
linebackers” in an attacking style Thursday night against the University of Memphis.
“They”re battling it out and (Maye) is a versatile athlete who I”ve seen do all kinds of things,” Collins said. “He”ll contribute and could get a look at other positions.”
The only linebacker on MSU”s roster with starting experience is senior Jamie Jones, who opened the second game of the 2008 season.
MSU coach Dan Mullen said sophomore backup linebacker Chris Hughes is “questionable” to play in Thursday. He declined to elaborate on Hughes” status.
No. 36 won”t be worn this season
MSU will be without No. 36 on the field until the expected graduation date of the last man to wear it.
Mullen announced during fall camp the jersey number of the late Nick Bell won”t be worn until at least the time when the player who tragically passed away last season was supposed to get his degree from the school.
The decision was made after consultation with MSU Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin and Bell”s mother, Linda, this summer. MSU officials will re-evaluate the situation after the 2013 season.
After Bell”s tragic death to cancer, the number was worn last season by Kendric Cook (vs. Arkansas), Charles Mitchell (at Alabama), Pernell McPhee (at Ole Miss), and Chris Relf (vs. Michigan in the 2011 Gator Bowl).
The only other number that has intentionally not been given to a player is No. 21 to honor the death of former MSU running back Keffer McGee.
Alabama defensive back commits to MSU
Mississippi State received its 17th verbal commitment of the 2012 recruiting class Monday when 6-foot-1 defensive back Kivon Coman pledged his services to the Bulldogs program.
Rivals.com first reported the commitment.
Coman, who is from Florence, Ala., also had offers from Arkansas State, South Alabama, and South Florida.
Coman, who was primarily recruited by Collins, received a scholarship offer in July at MSU”s Big Dawg camp.
MSU season tickets officially sold out
The ticket office officially sold the last student ticket Monday afternoon.
On Saturday, MSU officials sold 8,800 student tickets after lines on campus stretched past the Barnes & Noble and almost to the school sign by the Highway 12 on-ramp.
MSU Associate Athletic Director Mike Richey said the ticket office sold a ticket every three seconds Saturday afternoon.
MSU sold out of season tickets for the second consecutive season in June, but had to sell the remaining students for all six home games this season for it to be an official sell out.
The ticket office held back 2,200 student tickets students could buy starting at 8 a.m. Monday. It sold that inventory in less than five hours.