Under former coach Dan Mullen, Mississippi State was a program that did much more with less, relatively speaking. It’s not that the Bulldogs recruiting classes were lackluster, it’s just that they weren’t at Alabama or LSU’s level.
Now with Mullen at Florida, new Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead is making his mark. On Thursday, Moorhead landed the biggest recruit of his still young career, getting a pledge from four-star defensive end Nathan Pickering.
A 6-foot-3, 286-pound edge rusher with serious quickness and agility, Pickering stars for Seminary High in Mississippi. Committing to his home-state Bulldogs was never a stretch for the budding star.
“I still feel at home at Mississippi State,” Pickering told 247 Sports last week, before deciding on his commitment. “And with the coaches, it’s not even about football or recruiting any more. They treat me like I am a player in their program and it’s the same with the players there. I feel close with all of them.
“They’ve gotten some good momentum this summer and spring, too, and it’s been fun to watch that staff come into the SEC and do those things. They have great coaches and I think they will have their best season ever this year. I am eager for them to show everyone what Coach (Joe) Moorhead can do. He is a cool coach that brings a lot of energy and excitement and is great for the program.”
Wondering what kind of impact Pickering could have at Mississippi State? Just look at his junior-year stats at Seminary: 85 tackles, 39 tackles for a loss, five sacks, four forced fumbles and one interception.
What Pickering’s commitment truly underscores is how Moorhead and his staff have done an exceptional job in a short time connecting with Mississippi recruits and their coaches. Pickering is the eighth pledge from the Bulldogs’ home state, with the school’s other six commits also hailing from states in the south. That’s all a positive omen for Mississippi State, which will look to move another step forward under Moorhead in the months ahead.