Three Bulldogs players to watch on defense in Mississippi State football's spring game

Tyler Horka
Mississippi Clarion Ledger

STARKVILLE – The plot for Mississippi State's Maroon and White Spring Game on Saturday thickened when MSU defensive coordinator Zach Arnett took the podium two weeks ago. 

He said his unit was awful in the first scrimmage of the spring. He didn't like the way his players' tackling – or lack thereof. He didn't like how easily they let coach Mike Leach's offense go up and down the field. He didn't like a whole lot. 

They can show improvement Saturday at 11 a.m. at Davis Wade Stadium. These are three defensive players to keep an eye on as MSU's spring game unfolds. 

NOT PLEASED:Why defensive coordinator Zach Arnett was not happy with Mississippi State's football scrimmage

TALKING ABOUT PRACTICE:Everything Mike Leach said about second Mississippi State football scrimmage of spring

No. 0 Jalen Green, senior safety 

Texas defensive back Jalen Green (3) runs off the field after being ejected for targeting against Kansas State in an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Austin, Texas. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Mississippi State brought in an experienced pass-catcher in Makai Polk. The Bulldogs also brought in an experienced pass-defender in Jalen Green. 

The former Texas safety played in 35 games for the Longhorns. He logged one interception and seven passes defended. Green has teamed back up with MSU safeties coach Jason Washington, who coached at Texas from 2017-19. 

Mississippi State's play in the secondary was hit or miss last year. Green could act as a stabilizing force for the position group as it looks to better defend the deep ball. 

No. 9 De'Monte Russell, sophomore LB

Russell hasn't seen the field in game action since 2019. 

The redshirt sophomore missed the entirety of the 2020 season recovering from injuries sustained in a 2019 car crash. Russell has only played in three games for Mississippi State after arriving as a four-star recruit from Provine High School. 

TOP 10?:ESPN ranks Mississippi State football No. 8 in the FPI. What does it mean?

Russell was a menacing edge rusher at Provine. He has since been moved to linebacker. At 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds, Russell has unmatched size at the position. Look for him to be asked to rush the passer from his linebacking position Saturday. 

No. 34 Sherman Timbs, senior DE 

Senior Sherman Timbs is another player like Russell who might see more time as an outside linebacker than at his original position - defensive end. 

Either way, Timbs has been making his case for playing time. He made three tackles, including a crucial sack in the Armed Forces Bowl. 

Timbs has been with the program since 2017 but has been lost in the shuffle behind plenty of talented defensive linemen on Mississippi State's depth charts. The fifth-year senior could finally have his breakout season this year. 

Contact Tyler Horka at Follow @tbhorka on Twitter. To read more of Tyler's work, subscribe to the Clarion Ledger today!