Dec 31, 2020; Fort Worth, TX, USA; The Mississippi State Bulldogs and Tulsa Golden Hurricane teams fight after the game at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Postgame brawl mars Tulsa-Mississippi State bowl game

An ugly postgame brawl erupted after the Armed Forces Bowl between No. 24 Tulsa and Mississippi State on Thursday and at least one player was injured.

Tulsa safety Kendarin Ray was helped off the field after reportedly being hit in the head by a helmet. Golden Hurricane coach Philip Montgomery said Ray is being treated for a concussion.

Video of the brawl show players from both sides throwing punches and even a few are seen delivering kicks. Coaching staffs of both teams were powerless to stop it and Fort Worth security and law enforcement personnel were on the field trying to calm the situation.

After Tulsa safety Tieneal Martin threw some punches and fell to the ground, Mississippi State receiver Malik Heath can be seen delivering a kick to Martin’s facemask.

Montgomery says his players were just sticking up for one another.

“The one thing I’ll say is our program, our guys, we’re a team that is going to stand up for each other and we’re going to battle,” Montgomery said. “We’re a team that has battled all year long. We battled again today.”

The teams also had to be separated prior to the game, so tensions were high throughout Mississippi State’s 28-26 victory.

Afterward, Bulldogs coach Mike Leach implied his team wasn’t the cause of the incidents.

“I’m not sure what exactly caused that,” Leach said of the postgame skirmish. “There was something before the game, too. We never had any problem with that the entire season, so you know, I can only guess without seeing the film.

“But prior to this game, we’ve never had any trouble with that.”

Asked how he would address it with this team, Leach said, “Don’t do it anymore. It’s just dumb. There was some of that stuff going back and forth in the course of the game.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 23, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tulsa Golden Hurricane running back Corey Taylor II (24) runs the ball in the first half against the South Florida Bulls at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State brings losing mark into bowl battle with No. 24 Tulsa

At Mississippi State, bowl appearances are an annual occurrence.

No. 24 Tulsa, meanwhile, is set to end a brief postseason hiatus.

The Bulldogs (3-7) will make a school-record 11th consecutive bowl appearance, while the Golden Hurricane (6-2) will play in their first bowl since 2016 when they meet on New Year’s Eve in the Armed Forces Bowl at Fort Worth, Texas.

Tulsa beat Central Michigan 55-10 in the Miami Beach Bowl in 2016. Then the Golden Hurricane went 2-10, 3-9 and 4-8 before having a breakout season this year.

“Throughout this time I’ve seen a lot of ups and downs,” senior running back Corey Taylor II said. “It’s been a blessing to see how a championship team is created, and I believe this Tulsa team is definitely a championship team.”

Tulsa isn’t an official championship team, but it did go 6-0 in American Athletic Conference regular-season play to reach the conference title game against undefeated Cincinnati on Dec. 19. The Bearcats escaped with a 27-24 victory on a field goal as time expired.

“It has been a magical year for this group,” Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said. “Now we get an opportunity to continue to play one more game.”

The Golden Hurricane had four games canceled because of COVID-19 issues, including a contest at Houston. Tulsa has 62 Texans on its roster who get a chance to play in their home state after all.

“Generally we’re playing at least one game a year down there whether that’s an SMU or a Houston,” Montgomery said. “For the guys (from Texas), it will be special to play this game in Fort Worth.”

Any location would be special for the Bulldogs, who usually have a winning record going into their bowl game.

Mississippi State played the two best games of coach Mike Leach’s first season in the first and last games of the season. The Bulldogs opened with a 44-34 road victory against defending national champion LSU, then lost seven of eight before finishing Dec. 19 with a 51-32 home victory against Missouri.

“We have been competitive all year,” said Leach, who has led 17 of his 19 teams as a head coach to bowl games. “We practice hard and play hard, we just do it incongruently. We just do it in spurts and kind of segmented.”

In between the first and last wins came a victory came against Vanderbilt. None of the Bulldogs’ triumphs came against a team that currently sports a winning record.

Mississippi State gained 446 total yards in the finale, including its first 100-yard rushing game of the season (151).

“It’s been a gradual process,” Leach said. “We’re not there yet, but we took a step (against Missouri).”

The season began with KJ Costello, a graduate transfer from Stanford, passing for a Southeastern Conference-record 623 yards against LSU, but gradually Leach transitioned to a youth movement.

Freshman Will Rogers took over the starting position at midseason, and he has passed for 1,828 yards. The Bulldogs’ true freshmen have combined for 146 receptions, the most among any team in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2020; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Missouri Tigers head coach Eliah Drinkwitz watches play from the sidelines during the game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Mizzou looks to boost bowl resume at Mississippi State

Missouri concludes its quest for favorable bowl placement on Saturday afternoon at Mississippi State.

The Tigers (5-4) were No. 25 in last week’s College Football Playoff ranking before losing to Georgia 49-14. They will get one of the Southeastern Conference’s bowl berths, but the outcome in Starkville, Miss., could determine which one.

“We’re going bowling,” first-year Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz said. “We’re excited about going bowling. It’s an awesome opportunity for our team to get a chance to continue this journey together and play another game.”

Meanwhile the Bulldogs (2-7) battled adversity throughout a difficult year marked by COVID-19 complications. They fell 24-10 to Auburn last Saturday for their third consecutive loss.

“In the end, together with all the commotion and clutter, we’ve created one of the most joyless seasons on Earth,” first-year Bulldogs coach Mike Leach said. “And hopefully we have the presence of mind not to repeat it this way again.”

But Leach is hoping the Bulldogs can create a positive ending by beating Mizzou.

“They’re starting to play together better and better with the disruptions,” he said. “I think (winning) would be huge. We’ve been on the threshold of that against some really good teams for the last several weeks.”

While Leach is open to filling one of the bowl vacancies — sub-.500 teams are eligible this season — Drinkwitz is emphatic about playing on.

“We’re going to be in a great game because of the type of season we had,” Drinkwitz said. “Bowl games are still a reward for the season you had.”

Missouri is coping with injuries across its defensive front. Trajan Jeffcoat, Kobie Whiteside, Markell Utsey and Chris Turner are all questionable to play in this game.

The depleted Tigers have struggled to stop the run in their last two games, allowing Arkansas to rush for 292 yards and Georgia to rush for 316. But they will face a passing blizzard with the Bulldogs operating Leach’s familiar spread offense.

“He’s committed to throwing the football and does it at a really high level,” Drinkwitz said. “They supplement their run scheme with tunnel screens, which helps them slow down the pass rush.”

Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers has completed 71.1 percent of his passes this season for 1,533 yards and seven touchdowns. Jaden Walley emerged as his top receiving target with 43 catches for 562 yards, a school record for freshmen.

“Their progression throughout the year, you can tell they are getting more comfortable in their scheme,” Drinkwitz said of the Bulldogs. “They found their quarterback and he’s doing an excellent job for them. He knows exactly where the ball is supposed to go. They have some dynamic wide receivers. You can just tell that offensively they are hitting their stride.”

The Tigers try to balance the power running of Larry Rountree III (851 yards, 12 touchdowns this season) with some pro-style passing with Connor Bazelak (2,141 yards and five touchdowns).

“They’re aggressive both sides of the ball,” Leach said. “They have an aggressive run game on offense. Defense, they put a heavy front up there and like to play man coverage and try to be physical about it. It’s not a situation where they’re trying to fool you. They’re pretty aggressive and right out there in your face.”

Mississippi State defensive end Marquiss Spencer will miss the game after suffering a scary head or neck injury against Auburn. He regained body movement at the hospital, but he remained under observation.

–Field Level Media

Oct 3, 2020; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach stands on the sidelines during the first quarter of the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State-Auburn game postponed due to outbreak

A surge in positive COViD-19 tests in the Mississippi State football program caused the SEC to postpone Saturday’s game between the Bulldogs and No. 20 Auburn.

The conference said Monday the game has been rescheduled tentatively for Dec. 12 in Starkville, Miss.

“Based on positive tests and those considered as close contacts, along with non-COVID injuries, we do not have the minimum number of scholarship student-athletes available for Saturday’s game against Auburn,” Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen said. “While we are disappointed that Saturday’s game has been postponed, our priority is the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes and staff. We will continue to follow all established protocols and evaluate the most responsible path to return to the field.”

Mississippi State is not the only program to announce developments related to the virus on Monday.

Arkansas State coach Sam Pittman revealed he tested positive, and No. 5 Texas A&M paused practice activities after two positive COVID-19 tests. An outbreak at LSU put the Tigers’ game against No. 1 Alabama, scheduled for Saturday, in jeopardy.

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2020; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs wide receiver Jaden Walley (31) runs with the ball while defended by Vanderbilt Commodores safety Maxwell Worship (R) during the second quarter at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Five takeaways help Mississippi State hold off Vandy

Mississippi State forced five Vanderbilt turnovers Saturday afternoon, holding on for a 24-17 Southeastern Conference victory at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss.

State entered the game with an NCAA-worst minus-12 in turnovers, but was plus-5 on Saturday, intercepting Vanderbilt quarterback Ken Seals three times. Linebacker Tyrus Wheat forced a pair of fumbles and added six tackles for MSU (2-4).

Vanderbilt outgained MSU, 478-204, and the Commodores held State to a minus-22 net yards rushing, but the turnovers proved to be decisive.

MSU quarterback Will Rogers made his first career start and was 35 of 46 passing for 226 yards and a touchdown, breaking the school’s single-game freshman mark for completions.

For Vanderbilt (0-5), running back Keyon Henry-Brooks had 212 yards from scrimmage — 115 on 20 rushes and 97 on 11 receptions.

Trailing by a field goal, Vanderbilt got to the MSU 28 with under nine minutes to play, but defensive linemen Marquiss Spencer picked off a Seals pass.

After MSU’s ensuing drive ended with a punt for the seventh successive time, the Bulldogs defense stepped up: Wheat sacked Seals, forced a fumble and recovered it at the Commodore 14.

Running back Jo’quavious Marks cashed in with a 1-yard touchdown run with 2:43 to play that put the Bulldogs ahead to stay.

MSU had opened the scoring by capitalizing on a turnover when safety Collin Duncan picked Vandy’s Seals on the game’s first possession, returning it 28 yards to the Commodore 27. Rogers hit wide receiver Osirus Mitchell for a 6-yard score, with kicker Brandon Ruiz’s point-after giving State a 7-0 advantage.

Running back Dillon Johnson scored on a 4-yard run–the Bulldogs’ first rushing attempt of the day–with 2:43 left in the first quarter.

After the Commodores turned it over on downs at their 45, State’s Ruiz hit a 25-yard field goal with 9:24 left in the second quarter.

Vandy had a first-and-goal at the MSU 2, but State snuffed out two runs and then linebacker Errol Thompson picked off a Seals pass in the end zone.

Still, Seals brought Vanderbilt back with 2-yard strike to wide receiver Chris Pierce for a touchdown with 4:27 left in the third quarter. And early in the fourth quarter, Brooks sprinted through a gaping hole on the left side and went 27 yards untouched, pulling the Commodores to within 17-14.

But the two ensuing turnovers proved fatal, preventing the Commodores from winning in Starkville for the first time since 1971.

A pair of safeties — MSU’s Shawn Preston (first half) and Vandy’s Dashaun Jerkins (second half) were ejected for targeting.

The Tennessean reported Saturday that, owing to injuries and COVID-19 issues, Vanderbilt sent just 58 scholarship players to Starkville, narrowing reaching the SEC minimum of 53.

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2020; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs wide receiver Jaden Walley (31) runs with the ball while defended by Vanderbilt Commodores safety Maxwell Worship (R) during the second quarter at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Five takeaways help Mississippi State hold off Vandy

Mississippi State forced five Vanderbilt turnovers Saturday afternoon, holding on for a 24-17 Southeastern Conference victory at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss.

State entered the game with an NCAA-worst minus-12 in turnovers, but was plus-5 on Saturday, intercepting Vanderbilt quarterback Ken Seals three times. Linebacker Tyrus Wheat forced a pair of fumbles and added six tackles for MSU (2-4).

Vanderbilt outgained MSU, 478-204, and the Commodores held State to a minus-22 net yards rushing, but the turnovers proved to be decisive.

MSU quarterback Will Rogers made his first career start and was 35 of 46 passing for 226 yards and a touchdown, breaking the school’s single-game freshman mark for completions.

For Vanderbilt (0-5), running back Keyon Henry-Brooks had 212 yards from scrimmage — 115 on 20 rushes and 97 on 11 receptions.

Trailing by a field goal, Vanderbilt got to the MSU 28 with under nine minutes to play, but defensive linemen Marquiss Spencer picked off a Seals pass.

After MSU’s ensuing drive ended with a punt for the seventh successive time, the Bulldogs defense stepped up: Wheat sacked Seals, forced a fumble and recovered it at the Commodore 14.

Running back Jo’quavious Marks cashed in with a 1-yard touchdown run with 2:43 to play that put the Bulldogs ahead to stay.

MSU had opened the scoring by capitalizing on a turnover when safety Collin Duncan picked Vandy’s Seals on the game’s first possession, returning it 28 yards to the Commodore 27. Rogers hit wide receiver Osirus Mitchell for a 6-yard score, with kicker Brandon Ruiz’s point-after giving State a 7-0 advantage.

Running back Dillon Johnson scored on a 4-yard run–the Bulldogs’ first rushing attempt of the day–with 2:43 left in the first quarter.

After the Commodores turned it over on downs at their 45, State’s Ruiz hit a 25-yard field goal with 9:24 left in the second quarter.

Vandy had a first-and-goal at the MSU 2, but State snuffed out two runs and then linebacker Errol Thompson picked off a Seals pass in the end zone.

Still, Seals brought Vanderbilt back with 2-yard strike to wide receiver Chris Pierce for a touchdown with 4:27 left in the third quarter. And early in the fourth quarter, Brooks sprinted through a gaping hole on the left side and went 27 yards untouched, pulling the Commodores to within 17-14.

But the two ensuing turnovers proved fatal, preventing the Commodores from winning in Starkville for the first time since 1971.

A pair of safeties — MSU’s Shawn Preston (first half) and Vandy’s Dashaun Jerkins (second half) were ejected for targeting.

The Tennessean reported Saturday that, owing to injuries and COVID-19 issues, Vanderbilt sent just 58 scholarship players to Starkville, narrowing reaching the SEC minimum of 53.

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2020; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs wide receiver Jaden Walley (31) runs with the ball while defended by Vanderbilt Commodores safety Maxwell Worship (R) during the second quarter at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Five takeaways help Mississippi State hold off Vandy

Mississippi State forced five Vanderbilt turnovers Saturday afternoon, holding on for a 24-17 Southeastern Conference victory at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss.

State entered the game with an NCAA-worst minus-12 in turnovers, but was plus-5 on Saturday, intercepting Vanderbilt quarterback Ken Seals three times. Linebacker Tyrus Wheat forced a pair of fumbles and added six tackles for MSU (2-4).

Vanderbilt outgained MSU, 478-204, and the Commodores held State to a minus-22 net yards rushing, but the turnovers proved to be decisive.

MSU quarterback Will Rogers made his first career start and was 35 of 46 passing for 226 yards and a touchdown, breaking the school’s single-game freshman mark for completions.

For Vanderbilt (0-5), running back Keyon Henry-Brooks had 212 yards from scrimmage — 115 on 20 rushes and 97 on 11 receptions.

Trailing by a field goal, Vanderbilt got to the MSU 28 with under nine minutes to play, but defensive linemen Marquiss Spencer picked off a Seals pass.

After MSU’s ensuing drive ended with a punt for the seventh successive time, the Bulldogs defense stepped up: Wheat sacked Seals, forced a fumble and recovered it at the Commodore 14.

Running back Jo’quavious Marks cashed in with a 1-yard touchdown run with 2:43 to play that put the Bulldogs ahead to stay.

MSU had opened the scoring by capitalizing on a turnover when safety Collin Duncan picked Vandy’s Seals on the game’s first possession, returning it 28 yards to the Commodore 27. Rogers hit wide receiver Osirus Mitchell for a 6-yard score, with kicker Brandon Ruiz’s point-after giving State a 7-0 advantage.

Running back Dillon Johnson scored on a 4-yard run–the Bulldogs’ first rushing attempt of the day–with 2:43 left in the first quarter.

After the Commodores turned it over on downs at their 45, State’s Ruiz hit a 25-yard field goal with 9:24 left in the second quarter.

Vandy had a first-and-goal at the MSU 2, but State snuffed out two runs and then linebacker Errol Thompson picked off a Seals pass in the end zone.

Still, Seals brought Vanderbilt back with 2-yard strike to wide receiver Chris Pierce for a touchdown with 4:27 left in the third quarter. And early in the fourth quarter, Brooks sprinted through a gaping hole on the left side and went 27 yards untouched, pulling the Commodores to within 17-14.

But the two ensuing turnovers proved fatal, preventing the Commodores from winning in Starkville for the first time since 1971.

A pair of safeties — MSU’s Shawn Preston (first half) and Vandy’s Dashaun Jerkins (second half) were ejected for targeting.

The Tennessean reported Saturday that, owing to injuries and COVID-19 issues, Vanderbilt sent just 58 scholarship players to Starkville, narrowing reaching the SEC minimum of 53.

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2020; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs wide receiver Jaden Walley (31) runs with the ball while defended by Vanderbilt Commodores safety Maxwell Worship (R) during the second quarter at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Five takeaways help Mississippi State hold off Vandy

Mississippi State forced five Vanderbilt turnovers Saturday afternoon, holding on for a 24-17 Southeastern Conference victory at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss.

State entered the game with an NCAA-worst minus-12 in turnovers, but was plus-5 on Saturday, intercepting Vanderbilt quarterback Ken Seals three times. Linebacker Tyrus Wheat forced a pair of fumbles and added six tackles for MSU (2-4).

Vanderbilt outgained MSU, 478-204, and the Commodores held State to a minus-22 net yards rushing, but the turnovers proved to be decisive.

MSU quarterback Will Rogers made his first career start and was 35 of 46 passing for 226 yards and a touchdown, breaking the school’s single-game freshman mark for completions.

For Vanderbilt (0-5), running back Keyon Henry-Brooks had 212 yards from scrimmage — 115 on 20 rushes and 97 on 11 receptions.

Trailing by a field goal, Vanderbilt got to the MSU 28 with under nine minutes to play, but defensive linemen Marquiss Spencer picked off a Seals pass.

After MSU’s ensuing drive ended with a punt for the seventh successive time, the Bulldogs defense stepped up: Wheat sacked Seals, forced a fumble and recovered it at the Commodore 14.

Running back Jo’quavious Marks cashed in with a 1-yard touchdown run with 2:43 to play that put the Bulldogs ahead to stay.

MSU had opened the scoring by capitalizing on a turnover when safety Collin Duncan picked Vandy’s Seals on the game’s first possession, returning it 28 yards to the Commodore 27. Rogers hit wide receiver Osirus Mitchell for a 6-yard score, with kicker Brandon Ruiz’s point-after giving State a 7-0 advantage.

Running back Dillon Johnson scored on a 4-yard run–the Bulldogs’ first rushing attempt of the day–with 2:43 left in the first quarter.

After the Commodores turned it over on downs at their 45, State’s Ruiz hit a 25-yard field goal with 9:24 left in the second quarter.

Vandy had a first-and-goal at the MSU 2, but State snuffed out two runs and then linebacker Errol Thompson picked off a Seals pass in the end zone.

Still, Seals brought Vanderbilt back with 2-yard strike to wide receiver Chris Pierce for a touchdown with 4:27 left in the third quarter. And early in the fourth quarter, Brooks sprinted through a gaping hole on the left side and went 27 yards untouched, pulling the Commodores to within 17-14.

But the two ensuing turnovers proved fatal, preventing the Commodores from winning in Starkville for the first time since 1971.

A pair of safeties — MSU’s Shawn Preston (first half) and Vandy’s Dashaun Jerkins (second half) were ejected for targeting.

The Tennessean reported Saturday that, owing to injuries and COVID-19 issues, Vanderbilt sent just 58 scholarship players to Starkville, narrowing reaching the SEC minimum of 53.

–Field Level Media

Oct 10, 2020; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs running back Kylin Hill (8) catches a ball against the Kentucky Wildcats in the second half at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State RB Hill opts out of season

Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill announced Tuesday that he has opted out of the season and will concentrate on preparing for the NFL draft.

There had been heavy speculation that the 2019 All-SEC selection was opting out after he had his role reduced under new coach Mike Leach.

“2020 has been an unprecedented year, filled with uncertainty due to a pandemic that has forced all of us to adapt as best as possible,” Hill said in an announcement he posted to his various social media accounts. “With that, and after much prayer and discussion with my family, I have decided to opt out for the remainder of the season and declare for the 2021 NFL Draft. This has been an incredibly difficult decision, but one that I feel is best for me at this time.”

Hill rushed for 1,350 yards and 10 touchdowns last season and initially entered the 2020 NFL Draft before electing to return to the Bulldogs.

But this season, he carried the ball just 15 times for 58 yards in three games. He was heavily utilized as a receiver with 23 receptions for 237 yards and a touchdown.

Hill last played for Mississippi State on Oct. 10 against Kentucky and has missed the past two games. He sat out the Oct. 17 game against Texas A&M for undisclosed reasons and reports later emerged that he was suspended for the contest due to a verbal outburst following the 24-2 loss to Kentucky a week earlier.

On Monday, Leach said he hadn’t recently spoken to Hill, who was still listed on the football roster.

“I haven’t heard anything from him,” Leach told reporters. “The last I heard is what I told you last time. I heard he was opting out. I haven’t heard anything further and I haven’t spoken with him.”

Hill had kind words for Leach on social media.

“My family was hit with Covid bad and my brother recently had brain surgery & also got Covid including my mom,” he wrote. “Want to Thank Coach Leach for giving me time to myself and understanding my situation & how stressed out I was about it which he never rushed me.”

Hill concludes his Mississippi State career with 2,535 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. He also caught 67 passes for 631 yards and six scores.

“These last 3 1/2 years have been some of the best years of my life and I will never forget my time here in Starkville,” Hill said. “Mississippi will always be my home. We’ve made history together, both on and off the field, and as we move on to the next level, that work will only continue.”

Hill created some headlines in the offseason when he threatened to boycott the season if Mississippi didn’t change its flag, which contained a symbol of the Confederacy. The state eventually voted to change the flag.

–Field Level Media

Oct 3, 2020; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach stands on the sidelines during the first quarter of the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Miss. St. exodus continues as three more players leave

Three more players are departing the Mississippi State football program, coach Mike Leach said Wednesday.

Junior wide receiver Tyrell Shavers, junior defensive end Tre Lawson and freshman Jamari Stewart are the most recent defectors from the program. In all, that makes seven players to leave the Bulldogs in two weeks, joining sophomore quarterbacks Garrett Shrader and Jalen Mayden, freshman offensive lineman Nick Pendley and senior running back Kareem Walker, 247Sports reported.

That does not include running back Kylin Hill, the third-leading rusher in the Southeastern Conference last year, who is rumored to be on his way out of Starkville.

Leach said Wednesday that he believes Hill plans to leave Mississippi State to get ready for the 2021 NFL Draft.

“We wish him the best,” said Leach, who is in his first season leading the Bulldogs.

In three games this season, Hill has 15 carries for 58 yards. He also caught 23 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown. He did not play in the team’s most recent game, a 28-14 home loss to Texas A&M.

Mississippi is 1-3 on the year and is scheduled to play at Alabama on Saturday. Leach said on Wednesday’s coaches teleconference that he would “be surprised if we don’t lose more.”

Mississippi State won its first game, a 44-34 defeat of LSU, but has lost the past three. Leach said after an embarrassing 24-2 loss to Kentucky on Oct. 10 that a roster overhaul could be coming.

“I think we’re going to have to kind of check some of our group and figure out who really wants to play here,” Leach said. “Any malcontents, we’re going to have to purge a couple of those.”

–Field Level Media