Mike Leach rings a cowbell for fans Thursday at George M. Bryan Airport in Starkville during a welcome ceremony for the newly-hired Mississippi State head football coach. The pirate emblem on the bell is an ode to Leach's love for pirate lore. Leach replaces Joe Moorhead, who was fired after only two seasons leading the Bulldogs. Photo by: Aaron Cornia/Mississippi State Athletics
July 28, 2020 3:12:43 PM
STARKVILLE -- Mike Leach's high-flying air raid offensive continues to pay dividends on the recruiting trail for Mississippi State.
Tuesday, MSU secured a commitment from class of 2021 four-star receiver Malik Nabers over Georgia in the latest win for Leach and his offensive staff.
"Thank you to coach Mason (Smith) and Coach Leach for treating me as family and always keeping it real with me," Nabers wrote on Twitter. "I am beyond excited to help bring some of the top players in the country with me to Starkville."
As a junior, Nabers reportedly finished his campaign with 58 catches for 1,223 yards, four interceptions and two kickoff return touchdowns after spending time on both sides of the ball according to Notre Dame Insider.
"Sturdy receiver with enough size to win on the outside," 247sports Director of Scouting Barton Simmons wrote of Nabers. "Plays with grit and toughness. Shows outstanding jump ball ability for a prospect without elite height. Good concentration in contested situations. Ambitious and active after the catch."
"Athleticism is good, not great," Simmons continued. "Isn't tested against high school competition. Understated prospect that we think will maximize his ability be an impact Power Five starter on either side of the football and be a mid-round NFL Draft pick."
While Leach has struggled to secure top-end talent on the recruiting trail during his nearly two decades as a head coach at Washington State and Texas Tech, Nabers' commitment is the exclamation point on a recent run on offensive skill position players that would have been unheard of under previous coaching staffs in Starkville.
Of MSU's 12 commitments in the 2021 class, the four highest ranked players in the group -- Nabers, four-star receiver Theodore Knox (No. 223 in the 247sports Composite), three-star Flowood product Brandon Buckhaulter (No. 492 in the 247sports Composite) and four-star quarterback Sawyer Robertson (No. 143 in the 247sports Composite) -- all fall on the offensive side of the ball.
Should both Nabers and Knox maintain their verbal commitments to MSU, which is expected, it would also mark the first time in the 247sports-era (since 2010) that coaches in Starkville would nab two top-250 receivers to campus in the same year.
Now ranked No. 41 nationally and No. 11 in the Southeastern Conference courtesy of Nabers' pledge, MSU's latest polling shows a 12 and one spot bump, respectively, from where its 2021 class stood prior to Tuesday's news.
Ben Portnoy reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @bportnoy15.
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