Once again, the best of the best on MSU's recruiting board showed out at Big Dawg Camp and exhibited a talent-laden field. On defense, it is becoming a common theme that some of the Southeast's top defensive linemen are attending Big Dawg Camp and that was the case again.
2014 MSU commit Deshon Cooper
For the most part, the guys up front and the linebackers were the main story at Big Dawg Camp. But as you can tell, it was a solid group of defenders on hand and here is a look at Bulldogs247 Top 10 performers on defense among the 2014 prospects:
Deshon Cooper, Columbia (Ga.) HS - Big Dawg Camp was my first time to see this MSU commit in action and he literally caught my eye more than any other player. He is very similar to Magnolia State product Gerri Green and does everything good. During one drill on Friday Cooper was beaten in running back-linebacker drills. Instead of waiting his next turn, he skipped in line to get the next rep and never lost another battle the remainder of the drill.
Lashard Durr, Harrison Central (Miss.) HS - Competing in just his third-ever camp, Durr again held his own and stood out in camp drills. He allowed just two catches (one to Jesse Jackson) in 1-on-1 drills and again was one of the best athletes during testing drills (4.46 time and 34 vertical). The MSU commit will continue to hone his skills on the island and could be a guy ala Cedric Jiles that plays early and often in college.
Gerri Green, Greenville-Weston (Miss.) HS - Long, lean and physical. That describes Green the best and with his athleticism, I believe Green could be an all-state performer on either side of the football. Despite his length, he moves very fluid in coverage drills and that length allows him to close in quick on ball carriers. He could very well be the most-gifted athlete in the state this year.
Grant Harris, Clinton (Miss.) HS - Despite putting on several pounds since last year, Harris remains quick enough to play off the edge. And his length also allows Harris that luxury but judging from his frame, he could very well move inside. When I first wondered about the Clarion Ledger 'Dandy Dozen' selections for this year, I figured there were 10 slam-dunk selections. After seeing Harris again, there were likely 11 slam-dunk selections.
Keith Holcombe, Hillcrest (Ala.) HS - There is little that the MSU commit can't do whether it is in coverage or tackling space. He has a nose for the football and knows what to do when he arrives at the ball. MSU is quickly stock-piling a ton of talent at linebacker and Holcombe will be a big part of that process.
Darrius Liggins, Oxford (Miss.) HS - I watched the MSU commit quite often at Big Dawg Camp largely due to Liggins doing a lot to watch. His explosiveness off the edge and first step are of SEC quality and was better this time around at MSU's camp. More importantly, his showing was against better talent as well and Liggins held his own and then some.
Chris Rayford, Byhalia (Miss.) HS - I had my first opportunity (outside of film) to watch Rayford in action and his stock went up some in my book and was easy to spot what MSU assistant Deshea Townsend saw in Rayford. He was the best defender in 1-on-1 drills and the MSU commit only allowed one catch the entire drill and that was to fellow 2014 MSU commit Jamoral Graham. And Rayford joked that Graham "cheated and pushed off".
2014 MSU commit Chris Rayford
Breeland Speaks, Callaway (Miss.) HS - Every time I watch Speaks I wonder if he remains outside or moves inside on the defensive line, mainly because he has the quickness to stay outside. What is not in question is his ability to dominate wherever he lines up. Reaction and instincts catch your attention with Speaks as well as a never-ending motor.
Cory Thomas, McAdory (Ala.) HS - Of all the talented defensive linemen on hand, Thomas was still at another level. Hard to call him this year's Chris Jones (MSU 2013 signee) because he already has a ton of offers exiting the summer. His quickness and upper-body strength sets him apart.
Shareef White, Grenada (Miss.) HS - White's reminds me a lot of current MSU linebacker Ferlando Bohanna except White displays more speed at this stage in his career than Bohanna did at that point. When he arrives to the ball, he finishes the work and does so in a quick manner. While Green is considered the top linebacker in the state for 2014, White also demands attention with his set of skills.