Following the firing of head coach Zach Arnett, Mississippi State movement in the portal started with the entrance of running back Simeon Price and wide receiver Jacoby Bellazar. So far, there has been no interest in those two, but that is not the case for other heavy hitters. Interestingly enough, all those currently committed to new programs are from the offense like Will Rogers. It was a lackluster offensive performance this season as the Dawgs went 5-7 and sputtered most of the year. However, there were individual standouts, like Rogers, who will be providing their talent elsewhere in 2024. Take a look at those in this Bulldog portal update.

Rogers Is a Huskie Now

Next season, veteran quarterback Rogers will be given the opportunity to start for another Dawg team, the Washington Huskies. Their Heisman-nominee Michael Penix Jr., is in his final year of eligibility and is expected to go into the NFL draft following a run for the National Championship. The Huskie’s quarterback-friendly offense could be perfect for Rogers, and there is a void he is well-suited to fill. He had an outstanding run while playing in Starkville, leaving MSU as their all-time leading passer and second in SEC career-passing yardage. His 38 consecutive starts got interrupted due to a shoulder injury this season causing him to miss four SEC games. New Bulldog head coach Jeff Lebby is bringing in a new offense and has already stated he is looking for a dual-threat quarterback to run it. Admittedly, Rogers is not a runner.

Besides the Washington offense, there are other reasons for the Brandon, MS native to choose the Northwest. Husky star running back Dillon Johnson transferred from Mississippi State in 2022, so Rogers has that friendly face he knows well. But leaving the SEC and his home state was something a little more personal, as he told ESPN. “It was nice to have family and friends to watch all the games,” Rogers said. “But at some point, you have to think about what’s best for your career. This is the best move for me and my family. That’s what we think is best.”

Woody Could Be a Trojan

Jo’quavious “Woody” Marks entered the transfer portal on December 10th and has reportedly visited Washington along with teammate Rogers. However, according to On3, Marks has a 100% chance of committing to USC.

He’s been a standout running back for the Bulldogs in four seasons, rushing for 1,883 yards. But his real value is in being a dual threat. He leads running backs in the Mississippi State program for receiving yards with 1,225 and five touchdowns. He had at least one reception in every game at State. That combination makes him a coveted transfer.

Marks has other options as well. According to 247Sports, NFL scouts view him as a Day-three NFL draft prospect. However, it’s more likely he will stick with college football as a Trojan, taking advantage of his one year of eligibility to get a graduate degree. In a statement on social media, Marks looks fondly on his years with the Bulldogs. ”Mississippi State holds a special place in my heart,” Marks said. “I’ve learned so much on and off the field throughout my years here. We rode ups and down together. We broke records together. We grew up together and I’m forever grateful for my teammates, my coaches, and the fans.” Marks continued, “I may be moving on to the next chapter in my life but those cowbells will be ringing in my ears forever.”

From Dawg to Bengal Tiger

Mississippi State wide receiver Zavion Thomas has committed to LSU, following his entry into the portal. The Tigers have the distinct possibility of losing their top two receivers, Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr., to the NFL.

Besides being an experienced receiver, he is also a dynamic punt and kickoff returner. In 2022, he was second for return yards, in the SEC, with 13.47 per return. That year, he was also named to the Football Writer’s Association of America’s All-Freshman team. This season he had the only bright spot in the 51-10 loss to Texas A&M. He ran the opening kickoff back 94 yards for a touchdown. But, Thomas became more proficient as a receiver in 2023 with 40 catches, 503 yards, and a touchdown. He had at least one catch in 10 consecutive games. Thomas visited Auburn as well, but he is a New Orleans native, so going home was appealing. That means a lot to him as he told On3. “Just being home and going to war with my brothers,” Thomas said.

From Georgia to State and Back Again

Tight end Ryland Goede, played for the Georgia Bulldogs on their two national championship teams. After a total of four years with those Dawgs, he transferred to State for the 2023 season, hoping to get more time as a receiving tight end. The Kevin Barbay offense brought back tight ends with his pro-style offense, a departure from Mike Leach’s Air Raid. Goede saw plenty of playing time, however in the 10 games in which he appeared, he only had one reception against Ole Miss. After entering the portal, he committed to Georgia Tech.

Other Portal Entries But Not Committed

Decamerion Richardson – This is probably the biggest Bulldog loss on the defensive side of the ball. In his past two seasons at State, Richardson started in all 25 games. He came to State in 2020 getting his first start in 2022. The Booster City, LA native learned from a couple of the best, now-NFL corners Emmanuel Forbes and Martin Emerson. This season, despite an overall poor performance by the Dawg’s secondary, Richardson was the bright spot. In the past two years, he had 164 tackles. This season his 79 tackles, ranked him at 10th in the SEC, No. 1 among conference cornerbacks.

Jamari Brown – Also part of the secondary, Brown has some mileage on his transfer suitcase. He originally committed to Kentucky and spent two years in Lexington before Covid. That was when he entered the transfer portal for the first time, landing at Purdue. He spent two years as a Boilermaker and then transferred the second time to Mississippi State. However, he only saw the field in two games for the Dawgs, which is possibly why he has entered the portal for a third time. In his career, he has 74 tackles, 61 solo, 4.5 for a loss, three interceptions, and two fumble recoveries.

 

Photo courtesy: Barbara Gauntt/Clarion Ledger / USA TODAY NETWORK
Akash Mahi, a dedicated enthusiast of the game, is a recognized expert in the domain of tennis balls. With a keen understanding of materials and aerodynamics, he has contributed to the evolution of tennis ball design, enhancing playability and performance. Mahi's expertise continues to impact both casual players and professionals alike.