The high school signing period for the 2023 class has officially wrapped up and Mississippi State’s head coach is looking ahead to shape the landscape of future.
Zach Arnett, hired on Dec. 14, said that his greatest priority in recruiting since he took over in Starkville has been to recruit the Magnolia State like no other coach has before.
The Bulldogs signed more Mississippi-based high school players than any other school in the NCAA this year. Though Arnett is proud of the feat, he is not entirely satisfied. The young coach would like to see even more players on his team representing the state in which the university lies in the future.
“There’s been no mystery to what I’ve wanted to accomplish here in terms of the recruiting prowess of the staff, particularly their ties in the state of Mississippi, ” Arnett said on SportsTalk Mississippi. “Of the top 25 players in Mississippi, we signed 12 of them, which is more than any other school. I would like to see us sign even more.”
The NFL is saturated with MSU players that have Mississippi roots — especially on the defensive side of the ball. Arnett, a former defensive coordinator and highly respected defensive mind, notices that the Magnolia State is a fertile ground for producing talent that can play football on a professional level.
With that in mind, Arnett sees the need to build his foundation around players from Mississippi.
“Right now we have 28 Bulldogs in the NFL and 19 of those guys played at our high school football or junior college football [programs] in the state of Mississippi,” Arnett said. “So, it seems to me that we ought to be spending a majority of our time recruiting the state of Mississippi harder than anyone and it will pay off great dividends for us.”
Notable Mississippi-based Bulldogs in the NFL are Houston’s Chris Jones (Kansas City Chiefs DL), Yazoo City’s Fletcher Cox (Philadelphia Eagles DL), Starkville’s Willie Gay Jr. (Kansas City Chiefs LB), and Tunica’s Bernardrick McKinney (Houston Texans LB).
Jones and Gay will be facing off against Cox in Super Bowl LVII.
The full interview with Arnett can be watched below.