2016 Mississippi State Signing Class

Image MSU media relations.

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen received 13 National Letters of Intent from promising student-athletes who comprise the Bulldogs’ 2016 recruiting class on Wednesday.

MSU, which returns 52 letterwinners in 2016, already had an additional five players enroll in January that count back toward the 2015 class. Highlighting this year’s class is the state of Mississippi’s No. 1 overall recruit in five-star defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons out of Macon, Starkville’s own Kobe Jones, four-star pass rusher Marquiss Spencer and four-star offensive lineman Stewart Reese out of Fort Pierce, Florida.

(will be posted below as they are released)

[List as of 2:32 p.m. CT, 2/3/2016]

Tre Brown* DL 6-4 290 Ackerman, MS (Copiah-Lincoln CC) Bio
Korey Charles ATH 5-11 173 Tallahassee, FL (North Florida Christian HS) Bio
Jamal Couch ATH 6-5 222 Phenix City, AL (Central HS) Bio
Cameron Dantzler DB 6-2 170 Hammond, LA (St. Thomas Aquinas HS) Bio
Lashard Durr* DB 5-11 190 Gulfport, MS (Copiah-Lincoln CC) Bio
Greg Eiland OL 6-7 320 Philadelphia, MS (Philadelphia HS) Bio
John Michael Hankerson WR 6-1 170 South Bend, IN (Washington HS) Bio
Dontea Jones* WR 6-4 250 McCool, MS (Jireh Prep) Bio
Kobe Jones DL 6-4 262 Starkville, MS (Starkville HS) Bio
C.J. Morgan-Walker* DB 6-0 192 Bossier City, LA (Parkway HS) Bio
Nero Nelson DB 5-11 170 Hollandale, MS (Simmons HS) Bio
Dareuan Parker OL 6-5 326 Olive Branch, MS (DeSoto Central HS) Bio
Stewart Reese OL 6-5 340 Fort Pierce, FL (Fort Pierce Central HS) Bio
Christian Roberson* TE 6-5 230 Powder Springs, GA (McEachern HS) Bio
Jeffery Simmons DL 6-4 275 Macon, MS (Noxubee County HS) Bio
Marquiss Spencer DL 6-4 223 Greenwood, MS (Greenwood HS) Bio
Jordan Thomas TE 6-6 275 Decatur, MS (East Central HS) Bio
Erroll Thompson LB 6-2 245 Florence, AL (Florence HS) Bio

* – early enrollee in January 2016; counts toward 2015 signing class


Tre Brown, DL, 6-4, 290, Ackerman, Miss. (Copiah-Lincoln CC)
Junior College: One of the top junior college defensive linemen in the nation … Enrolled at MSU in January 2016 and will participate in spring practices … Tabbed three stars by 247Sports.com, Scout.com and ESPN.com … Played defensive tackle as a sophomore for Copiah-Lincoln in 2015, accumulating 31 total tackles, six tackles for loss, two sacks and one forced fumble … High School: Prepped at Choctaw County High School … Ranked one of the top 10 recruits in the state of Mississippi by Scout.com … Registered four sacks and two blocked punts as a senior in 2013.


Korey Charles, ATH, 5-11, 173, Tallahassee, Fla. (North Florida Christian HS)
Tabbed as a four-star athlete by ESPN.com … Pegged as a three-star prospect by 247Sports.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com … Ranked as the No. 68 overall prospect in the state of Florida by 247Sports.com … Named the No. 26 running back in the 2016 class by ESPN.com … Played running back, wide receiver and defensive back … Named honorable mention Class 2A All-State by Southwest Florida News-Press… Helped his team to a 7-5 record in 2015 as a senior … Led his team in rushing with 1,014 yards on 123 carries with nine scores … Also hauled in 37 catches for 447 yards and five scores … Surpassed the 100-yard mark in four games in 2015, while racking up over 200 yards twice … In 2014, led the Eagles in rushing with 1,120 yards and 10 scores, surpassing the 100-yard mark six times … Coached by Robert Craft.


Jamal Couch, ATH, 6-5, 222, Phenix City, Ala. (Central HS)
A four-star athlete by Scout.com … 247Sports.com’s Composite ratings have him as a three-star athlete … Listed as the No. 9 ranked player in the state of Alabama and the No. 16 athlete in the nation in by 247Sports.com … Played wide receiver and outside linebacker for Coach Jamey DuBose at Central High School … Helped the Red Devils to a 9-4 record before falling in the Class 7A state semifinal in 2015.


Cameron Dantzler, DB, 6-2, 170, Hammond, La. (St. Thomas Aquinas HS)
A consensus three-star athlete by 247Sports.com, ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com … Pegged as the No. 30 overall prospect in the state of Louisiana by Rivals.com and rated as the No. 2 athlete in Louisiana by Scout.com … Played quarterback and defensive back at St. Thomas … Helped the Falcons to a 12-1 record and their first-ever trip to the state playoff semifinals … Rushed for 1,901 yards and 26 touchdowns his senior season, while passing for 1,381 yards and 11 scores … Also snagged two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown in 2015 … Named to the Louisiana Sports Writers Association Class 2A All-State team in 2015 … Named 2014 All-District 7-2A MVP … Also a member of the track team, recording a school-best 23-3 1/4 in the long jump to win a 2015 state championship … Committed to the Bulldogs in June 2015 … Coached by John White.


Lashard Durr, DB, 5-11, 190, Gulfport, Miss. (Copiah-Lincoln CC)
Junior College: A consensus three-star JUCO defensive back with ESPN, Scout, Rivals and 24/7 who enrolled early at MSU in January 2016 … Ranked the No. 7 junior college corner by 24/7 and the No. 52 overall JUCO player by Scout … Played for Glenn Davis and the Copiah-Lincoln Wolfpack who went 7-2 in is second season … Tallied 63 total tackles, including two tackles for loss in his two-year career with Co-Lin … Established a defensive presence in the Wolfpack secondary with 22 pass breakups, three interceptions and returned a fumble for a touchdown … High School: Helped Harrison Central and head coach Steve Jones to a 7-5 record and a first-round appearance of the Mississippi High School Athletic Association Class 6A playoffs … A first-team Mississippi Association of Coaches Class 6A All-State selection in 2013 … Selected to the 2013 All-Gridiron Second Team by the Mississippi Gridiron … Took part in the 10th annual Max Emfinger All-American Bowl in January and received an invitation to play in … A three-star recruit according to ESPN.com, Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports … Rated as the 16th-best prospect in the state by ESPN.com … On defense as a senior, tallied 61 tackles, three interceptions, seven pass breakups, one blocked field goal and one forced fumble … Offensively during final campaign, registered five rushes for 68 yards and 11 receptions for 287 yards and three touchdowns … As a return specialist, recorded four touchdowns on punt returns and ran back one kickoff 53 yards … Sparked a Harrison Central comeback win versus Ocean Springs with an 81-yard punt return for a TD to turn a 14-3 deficit into an eventual 17-14 victory … Knocked away the final pass of the contest to seal the win … During junior year, booked 41 tackles with seven interceptions and five pass breakups … Ran track for Harrison Central, participating in the 100-meter dash, 110-meter hurdles, 200-meter run, 300-meter hurdles, long jump and triple jump … As a sophomore, placed fifth in the 110-meter hurdles at the Mississippi High School Athletic Association 6A state championship.


Greg Eiland, OL, 6-7, 320, Philadelphia, Miss. (Philadelphia HS)
Consensus three-star standout offensive lineman … Tabbed as the No. 20 player in Mississippi by ESPN.com and the No. 47 best tackle in the country … Listed as the No. 2 offensive tackle in the state by Scout … Helped Philadelphia and head coach Teddy Dyess to a 6-6 season and MHSAA 3A playoff appearance … Paved the way for the Tornado running backs who amassed 2,761 rushing yards and averaged 230 rushing yards per game … Led his team as a junior to an 11-2 record and another playoff appearance … Also a member of Philadelphia High School’s baseball squad.


John Michael Hankerson, WR, 6-1, 170, South Bend, Ind. (Washington HS)
Rated a three-star wideout by 247Sports.com and Rivals.com … Tabbed as the No. 18 player in Indiana by Rivals.com … Coached by Jay Johnson at Washington High School in South Bend … Helped the Panthers to a 9-3 season in 2015 … Hauled in 27 catches for 527 yards and eight scores in his senior season in 2015 … Also rushed 14 times for 155 yards and a touchdown … Playing at the safety position on defense, racked up 77 tackles, two for loss and snagged two interceptions as a senior.


Dontea Jones, WR, 6-4, 250, McCool, Miss. (Jireh Prep)
A consensus three-star recruit by 247Sports.com, Rivals.com and ESPN.com … Played wide receiver in high school at Louisville before playing a season at tight end at Jireh Preparatory Academy … Coached by M.C. Miller with the Louisville Wildcats … Caught 43 passes for 774 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior in high school … Had a breakout sophomore season, hauling in 45 passes for 714 yards and scored 14 touchdowns … Ranked No. 6 in Clarion-Ledger’s Targeted 22 … Member of Clarion-Ledger’s Dandy Dozen … Coached by Ryan Williams at Jireh Prep.


Kobe Jones, DL, 6-4, 262, Starkville, Miss. (Starkville HS)
Outstanding local defensive line prospect out of Starkville High School … Tabbed as a four-star recruit by 247Sports.com, Scout.com and ESPN.com … Rated as the No. 178 overall prospect in America in the ESPN300 … Pegged as the No. 7 prospect in Mississippi and the No. 3 defensive lineman in the state by ESPN.com … Rated as the No. 25 defensive end prospect in the nation by Scout.com … Played in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star game at Southern Miss … Helped lead Starkville to the 2015 Class 6A state championship and a 14-1 record … Recorded 33 tackles (21 solo), 9 TFL, 5 pass deflections, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery during his senior season … Member of the Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen … Racked up 20 total tackles and 6 tackles for loss in his junior season … Was coached in high school by Ricky Woods.


C.J. Morgan-Walker, DB, 6-0, 192, Bossier City, La. (Parkway HS)
Tabbed a four-star prospect by ESPN.com and a three-star recruit by Rivals.com … Ranked the No. 24 cornerback in the 2016 class by ESPN.com … The 44th-best cornerback recruit according to 247Sports.com … Recruited as a defensive back, but played both sides of the ball for head coach David Feaster and the Parkway Panthers … Also excelled in special teams as kick returner … 247Sports.com Semper Fi All-American and Shreveport Times “Best of Preps” All-Area team … In three playoff wins during his senior season, scored via run, pass, catch, kickoff and interception returns … Collected over 2,000 all-purpose yards and 24 total touchdowns in his senior season, leading the Panthers to a 12-2 record … Enrolled in January 2016 and will participate in spring practices.


Nero Nelson, DB, 5-11, 170, Hollandale, Miss. (Simmons HS)
Athletic defensive back out of Hollandale … Tabbed as a four-star prospect by ESPN.com … Rated as a three-star player by Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports.com … Tabbed as the No. 27 athlete in the nation by ESPN.com … The No. 12 prospect in Mississippi by Scout.com and the No. 13 by Scout.com … Helped the Blue Devils to an undefeated season and a state championship in his senior year … Racked up 826 yards and 15 scores on 50 attempts in 2015 … Hauled in 24 catches for 572 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior and returned three kickoffs for scores … Totaled 34 tackles and picked off five passes, returning two for touchdowns … Rushed nine times for 197 yards and four scores in the 2015 1A state semifinal … Played in the 2015 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game … Named 2015 All-State First Team … Also played basketball at Simmons… Committed to the Bulldogs in July 2015 … Coached by Tavares Johnson.


Dareuan Parker, OL, 6-5, 326, Olive Branch, Miss. (DeSoto Central HS)
A consensus three-star offensive lineman out of Olive Branch … Played a big role at offensive tackle for the Jaguars, allowing them to rush for 240 yards and pass for 166 yards per game in 2015 … A first-team all-state selection as a senior … Played in the 2015 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game … Committed to the Bulldogs in March 2015 … Coached by Matthew Wallace.


Stewart Reese, OL, 6-5, 340, Fort Pierce, Fla. (Fort Pierce Central HS)
Promising four-star offensive lineman from the east coast of Florida … Considered four stars by Scout.com, Rivals.com and ESPN.com … 247Sports.com has him as a three-star offensive guard … Tabbed by Scout.com as the second-best offensive guard in Florida … Rivals.com has him as the No. 20 offensive tackle in the nation and No. 19 by 247Sports.com … Helped the Cobras to a 6-3 record in 2015 … Coached by Josh Shaffer.


Christian Roberson, TE, 6-5, 230, Powder Springs, Ga. (McEachern HS)
High School: Enrolled at MSU in January 2016 and will participate in spring practices … Consensus three-star standout by ESPN.com, Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports.com … Tabbed the No. 20 tight end in the country by ESPN and named the No. 3 player at his position in Georgia by Scout … Finished his senior season with 27 catches for 353 yards and four touchdowns… Played for head coach Kyle Hockman.


Jeffery Simmons, DL, 6-4, 275, Macon, Miss. (Noxubee County HS)
Dominant, blue-chip five-star defensive line prospect … The No. 1 player in the state of Mississippi … Considered the nation’s No. 10 overall player and No. 2 defensive end by Scout.com … A five-star prospect according to Rivals.com and Scout.com … A four-star prospect by 247Sports.com and ESPN.com … The top-rated player in the state of Mississippi by Rivals.com and 247Sports.com … Played in the U.S. Army All-American Game … Competed in the 29th annual Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game … Key player on Noxubee County squad that won its second straight MHSAA Class 4A state championship and went 12-4 overall … Led the Tigers with 20.5 tackles for loss, 18.5 sacks, 21 quarterback hurries, three blocked field goals and two blocked punts as a senior … Also forced two fumbles, recovered two fumbles, broke up five passes and recorded an interception … Finished second on the team in tackles (105) and solo tackles (88) despite missing four games … Tallied 3.5 sacks and four quarterback hurries in the state championship game against St. Stanislaus High School … Earned five-star rating after 2015 season-opener against Starkville High School where he totaled 17 tackles, five sacks, five hurries, three pass breakups, a fumble recovery and a blocked field goal … Coached by Tyrone Shorter.


Marquiss Spencer, DL, 6-4, 223, Greenwood, Miss. (Greenwood HS)
A standout four-star defensive end who hails from Greenwood … Rated one of America’s top 300 overall prospects by Scout.com and 247Sports.com … Considered the No. 9 player in the state of Mississippi by 247Sports.com and No. 17 by Scout.com … Made 145 total tackles, 27 tackles for loss, 21 sacks, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and one interception as a senior in 2015 … Notched 148 total tackles, 32 tackles for loss, 23 sacks, five forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries as a junior in 2014 … Played multiple positions during his career … Helped lead Greenwood to the Class 4A north state title game in 2015 … Committed to the Bulldogs in November 2015 … Also plays baseball and basketball at Greenwood … Coached by Clinton Gatewood.


Jordan Thomas, TE, 6-6, 275, Decatur, Miss. (East Central CC)
The No. 1 junior college tight end recruit according to 247Sports.com and Scout.com … The No. 9 overall JUCO recruit in the state … Ranked the No. 70 overall JUCO player in America by Scout.com … Awarded three stars by 247Sports.com and Scout.com … In seven games with ECCC in 2015, caught 16 passes for 207 yards and three touchdowns as the squad reached the playoffs … Hauled in 16 passes for 138 yards and one touchdown during his freshman season in 2014 … Saw action at defensive end and offensive tackle as well … Coached by Ken Karcher … Also played basketball for East Central CC … Prepped at Sumrall High School.


Erroll Thompson, LB, 6-2, 245, Florence, Ala. (Florence HS)
Solid linebacker who continues the pipeline of Florence (Ala.) High School stars to come to Starkville … Former teammates with MSU’s Kivon Coman and Beniquez Brown … A four-star linebacker by ESPN.com … Rated three stars by Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports.com … The No. 139 overall prospect in America on the ESPN300 … Ranked the No. 6 inside linebacker in the country and No. 6 overall player in Alabama by ESPN.com … Considered the No. 10 overall prospect in Alabama by 247Sports.com and No. 24 in that category by Scout.com … Competed in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game … Logged 101 tackles, 18 tackles, two sacks and two pass breakups as a senior in 2015 … Was a star running back for Florence before missing his sophomore season with a torn ACL and moving to linebacker … Coached by J.B. Wallace.


Below are quotes from Mullen’s press conference:

On Korey Charles…

“Great athlete out of Florida. He’s a dynamic player with the ball in his hand. At camp, he worked the corner for us and did a great job there. We were looking to start him on the defensive side of the ball, but we usually find a great place for guys that were great players out of high school out there on the field.”

On Jamal Couch…

“Coming in as a wide receiver for us. With De’Runnya Wilson declaring for the NFL Draft, that only opened up one receiver spot for us on the roster. Those are big shoes to fill this year and he fits that with his size. He is a very similar player. He’s a guy on the offensive side of the ball with great skill.”

On Cameron Dantzler…

“We targeted him very, very early as a top corner for us. You look at his size and his length, he is similar to Johnthan Banks when Johnthan was in high school. At different camps we’ve had, we’ve watched him preform and see what he could do. So we are really excited about him.”

On Greg Eiland…

“One of the top offensive linemen in Mississippi. He has a great tackle body for us.”

On John Michael-Hankerson…

“Not sure yet if he is going to play receiver or corner for us. We identified him very early in camp. I am pretty sure he was the 100-meter champ in Mississippi and Indiana throughout his high school career. He’s an explosive player on both sides of the football.”

On Kobe Jones…

“A guy that we are thrilled to have. A hometown guy coming to play for his hometown. He’s from right here in Starkville, Miss. I know that he’s made everyone proud. He has what our program is all about, the character, effort. He always does things the right way at the right time. Every time we had him at camp, he’s always going to be one of the hardest working guys, if not the hardest working guy out there every single day in every single drill. We are looking work ethic and we are looking for high character and he fits that for us.”

On Nero Nelson…

“He’s a dynamic athlete. Receiver and defensive back in high school and quarterback. He’s done everything for his high school team. He’s a really explosive guy. He is really a competitor. He loves to compete. He was always first in line for every position that we placed him in during camp. He wants to keep going and going.”

On Dareuan Parker…

“He’s a massive guy. He is very athletic for a guy his size. I know in the Mississippi-Alabama game, everyone was saying he’s the top lineman in that game this year. He’s a big powerful guy who could play tackle or play guard.”

On Stewart Reese…

“Same deal as Parker. He’s a big, big man. Very athletic and great on his feet. Again, I think he can play multiple positions. He could play guard or tackle for us. We will just get him in here and see how he adjust. He’s a great young man with high character.”

On Jeffery Simmons…

“Great football player. Top player in the state of Mississippi. We are thrilled to have him. All of the discussions that we’ve had during recruiting about him, he’s been No. 1 on our list just because of the talent that he has out there on the field. I’ve known him for three years now and if you look at what he does in the classroom, you look at what he does in his community, if you look at the effort that he gives in everything that he does, he is a first class young man. I see him potentially being the next Fletcher Cox or Kaleb Eulls and when you start getting mentioned with those guys, you are really up there. He has that work ethic, really just that attitude that he’s a very special player.”

On Marquiss Spencer…

“We are really excited about. As a defensive lineman, you can put the athlete tag on him. He’s kind of an edge player. He’s very explosive and has great size and potential.”

On Jordan Thomas…

“I think people are going to be impressed when they see Jordan Thomas. He came to camp and started moving around and I was like I don’t know what he’s going to do, but we need him on our football team. In all of our evaluations, he’s more of a wide receiver than a tight end at 6-foot-6. That’s a pretty tough matchup on the outside for a lot of people. He works extremely well. He has great hands. I think just his size and athleticism creates major miss-matches for people out there on the field. He’s another guy that I see making an immediate impact for us.

On Erroll Thompson…

“Linebacker out of Alabama. He’s been great from day one for us. We excited to get him on board. He is a violent hitter inside. He is an inside linebacker. He has size and pop. He can really run the football down.”

On the kind of athletes he’s looking for…

“When we go to evaluating players, we put them in a box. Some of them you have pretty good idea, but when you are looking at some of these guys to play that has played every position for their high school team, it’s sometimes hard to say, “Okay, you are definitely going to do this.” We have a vision in our mind of what our starting point is, but if you look through the years, there are a lot of guys that had a starting point that doesn’t turn out how I envisioned it, but it works extremely well for everyone.”

On recruiting instate/locally…

“I don’t think this year at State has been any different than the years that have passed. I think maybe guys got ranked a little higher. I think my first year here recruiting, we signed a lot of Mississippi kids. I think 12 of them ended up being NFL football players. A lot of those guys were not ranked as high as guys this year, but I don’t think there is any difference this year than it has been in any of the years that has passed. It’s just that guy’s in Mississippi are getting a lot more national attention right now.”

On former players…

“When I got here, eight signing classes ago, I had to sit down with Fletcher Cox, Josh Boyd, Johnthan Banks, and Gabe Jackson and say look, here’s a plan that we have in place, that could help you become successful and I think those guys believed in me. I’ll always be indebted to those guys for believing in me, but they came in and also believed in our program and our University. They came in and bought into what we were doing. Now you’re looking at the success that all of these guys are having. So I think when they go out there and they look at players that have been here and that have degrees, had great success in college, and from small towns here in Mississippi, they are drawn to that.”

On competing for recruits…

“It’s tough to compete with everyone in the SEC. You are talking about the best conference in all of college football. You have some great teams and some great programs. I think in recruiting there are so many talented players, not just here, but in Alabama, in Tennessee, in Louisiana and we are all kind of recruiting for those same kids and I guess in the end, you’re going to win some and you’re going to lose some. What’s most important to me is that you get the guys that are right for you. The guys that are going to fit your program and for us, that want to be developed, that want to be coached, that want to be much better players when they leave than they were when they came.”