Mississippi State is very deep at the linebacker position.
The Bulldogs lost only one linebacker from last year in Deontae Skinner. MSU returns two starters in junior Benardrick McKinney and Matt Wells. MSU defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Geoff Collins likes what he has.
“Benardrick and Matt have a lot of experience,” Collins said. “Zach Jackson played critical minutes for us last year, fourth quarter against Arkansas, fourth quarter against Ole Miss.”
Collins has a pair of sophomores to lean on. Beniquez Brown and Richie Brown, both redshirted as freshman and played last year.
Beniquez is listed as the other starter on the preseason depth chart. He played in all 13 games and drew three starts in 2013. He accounted for 39 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries.
Richie played in all 13 games but never started last season. He made 38 tackles – 3.5 of those for a loss – and two sacks. He has had one interception, coming against Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace, as MSU won the Egg Bowl. He is listed as McKinney’s backup.
“It’s going to be a lot different,” Richie said of the upcoming season. “I kind of felt more comfortable towards the end of the year last year and I felt better with what I was doing. This year is really a big year for me and it’s going to be a lot different. I know what’s going on. I’m trying to get my head mentally prepared for the season.”
Freshmen J.T. Gray and Gerri Green may find some playing time this season if they are not redshirted.
Junior Jackson and redshirt freshman Dez Harris are in the mix to see some playing time this season. The former quarterback Harris missed his entire senior year of high school after suffering a knee injury.
He sat out his first year on the MSU campus still recovering from that injury, and that gave him time to get his body in shape for playing linebacker.
LB depth chart:
LB – Matt Wells, Zach Jackson
LB – Benardrick McKinney, Richie Brown
LB – Beniquez Brown, Dez Harris