Five Players to Watch on Offense for Mississippi State in 2021

Mississippi State could be poised for a big year on offense in 2021.
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The Mississippi State offense is headed into its second consecutive season of running the Air Raid offense under head coach Mike Leach, and it's safe to say the circumstances are much better than they were last year.

The Bulldogs have a full offseason to work with, something that they didn't have last year and something that is incredibly important for a scheme based on repetition and execution.

MSU has also undergone several changes within the roster since the beginning of last season, with players who didn't necessarily fit the scheme or who weren't bought into it now no longer with the program in 2021. So, State is set up much better overall from a players perspective as well.

Here's a look at five players on offense who could be in for a big year in 2021:

1. WR Jaden Walley.

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The Bulldogs have a promising group of wideouts taking the field this year, and one of those is Jaden Walley.

Walley made the preseason watch list for the Biletnikoff Award earlier in July after he had a statement freshman season in 2020.

He set the single-season record for most receiving yards by a freshman in program history, earned All-America honors, and was the only freshman in the nation with at least 50 catches and at least 700 receiving yards in 2020.

Walley finished out the season with 52 receptions for 718 yards with two touchdowns over 10 appearances. Expect him to only build upon this momentum moving forward.

2. QB Jack Abraham/Will Rogers.

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MSU's "wide open" quarterback battle could come down to the wire, and it is expected to be either Will Rogers, who finished out the season last year, or graduate transfer Jack Abraham at the helm of the offense for Game 1.

Rogers was impressive last season to be only a true freshman, Rogers completed 69.1% of his passes for 1,976 yards with 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions over nine appearances.

In terms of experience, Abraham has the obvious edge. 

Abraham completed over 69% of his passes for 7,067 yards with 41 touchdowns and 29 interceptions over three seasons at Southern Miss.

3. OT Charles Cross.

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Offensive linemen don't get a ton of attention in comparison to other positions, but you can't have a successful offense without a solid line. Cross has been drawing attention from analysts all offseason, which isn't surprising considering that he's one of the best offensive tackles in the nation.

He's been projected as a first-rounder in the 2022 NFL Draft and was named to the Sports Illustrated Preseason All-SEC team.

4. RB Jo'quavious Marks.

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Mississippi State is one of just two teams in the Southeastern Conference with multiple players on the Doak Walker Award preseason watch list. Running backs Jo'quavious Marks and Dillon Johnson were the two representatives for the Bulldogs.

In 2020, Marks MSU in rushing yards and receptions, amassing 325 rushing yards, with 60 receptions for 268 yards.

Marks has a chance to continue improving his versatility in his second season playing in the Air Raid offense, where running backs get a lot of reps in catching passes out of the backfield.

5. WR Austin Williams.

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Williams had a standout season in 2020, reeling in 43 passes for 372 yards with three touchdowns. Over the course of his MSU career, Williams has caught 64 passes for 628 yards with eight touchdowns.

He's one of State's most respected players from a leadership and academic aspect as well, named a First-Team Academic All-American earlier this month.

"The thing that Austin brings is consistency... I think that some times people forget how important consistency is," Leach said. "He's a natural leader and a smart guy. I think that creates a level of stability."