We check in on the Mississippi State Bulldogs today to get a read on who will be their top bounce-back players in 2011:
Marcus Green, TE, Sr.: When Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf gets in trouble this season, Green could well end up being Relf's best friend. After tearing up his knee in the second game last season, Green is back and figures to be an integral part of the Bulldogs' offense. A former running back in high school, he's a good runner after the catch and has the frame and strength to outmuscle defenders in those tough-yardage situations. Green caught 27 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore. If he stays healthy, Green's a good bet to be a 30-catch guy and will give the Bulldogs an experienced receiving threat over the middle, something they missed at times a year ago.
Nickoe Whitley, S, So.: As a redshirt freshman, Whitley was good enough to earn SEC All-Freshman honors by the coaches last season. He started 11 games at free safety, but was replaced in the starting lineup by Wade Bonner for the last two regular-season games. Bonner, a senior, was also listed No. 1 on the depth chart at the end of spring practice, meaning Whitley will have to win back the job in the fall. Either way, the Bulldogs have some good depth in the secondary and several guys who've played. Whitley's talent will be difficult to ignore in the battle for that free safety spot. He tied for the team lead with three interceptions last season, and they won't forget his play against Georgia any time soon in Starkville. He forced and then recovered a fumble at the goal line to preserve Mississippi State's 24-12 win against the Bulldogs.