Mississippi State wide receiver Makai Polk, who set several school records in his short time in Starkville, won’t return to lead the Bulldogs’ receiving unit in 2022.
Polk, who broke single-season program marks in receptions and receiving yards in coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid scheme, announced he has declared for the NFL draft. He thanked Leach and outside wide receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. in a statement posted to Twitter on Sunday afternoon.
Polk, a native of Richmond, California, transferred from Cal to MSU in January 2021 with three years of eligibility remaining. He immediately found a niche as Mississippi State’s leading receiver, catching 105 passes — the second-most in the nation — for 1,046 yards and nine touchdowns.
He went over 100 yards in four games — 136 yards against Memphis, 126 at Texas A&M, 117 at Arkansas and 110 against Tennessee State. Polk had two touchdown catches against the Aggies and Nov. 13 at Auburn.
Mississippi State will have to replace the reliable 6-foot-3 wideout in 2022, when quarterback Will Rogers returns for his junior season. Jaden Walley was the Bulldogs’ next-best receiver with 628 yards, while Austin Williams had 617 — both will be back next year, as will running backs Jo’quavious Marks and Dillon Johnson.
Former junior-college wideout Christian Ford emerged as a playmaker in 2021, as did freshman Rara Thomas. The Bulldogs will also bring in a recruiting class set to include four players, including four-star prospect Marquez Dortch.
They can also scour the transfer portal to find Polk’s replacement. Leach called Polk the portal’s “ultimate success story” on Dec. 15, and now the Bulldogs coach will look for another.
Theo DeRosa reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.