MSU athletics receives high rating in poll

MSU Athletic Director John Cohen
Staff Writer

With postseason success across the board this past season, Mississippi State was ranked as the country’s 14th best athletic program in a poll released by CBS Sports earlier this week. The Bulldogs were fourth in the Southeastern Conference on the list, trailing only No. 2 Alabama, No. 10 Georgia and No. 12 Auburn on the list. Ohio State was picked as the nation’s premier program.

To figure the rankings, CBS Sports used a weighted formula that gave more importance to sports with broad fan bases and media interest. Every school was rated in football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball with the poll slanted to give more weight to football and men’s hoops. The rankings also included a pair of “wild card” sports from each school’s most successful spectator sports, which using the CBS guidelines, were likely baseball and softball in the case of Mississippi State.

It was a successful year across the board by almost any measure for MSU in the 2017-2018 athletic season. Though not all were used to compile the CBS rankings, 12 different Mississippi State sports advanced to postseason play. MSU was the only school in the country to have a football team play in a bowl game, have a men’s or women’s basketball team reach the NCAA Final Four and have a baseball team reach the College World Series.

"I am very proud of our teams, coaches and student-athletes for their collective efforts in setting the highest of standards not only in their sports but also in the classroom and community," State Athletic Director John Cohen said about his department in June.

Ashcraft no longer with baseball

Pitcher Graham Ashcraft will not return to Mississippi State for the 2019 baseball season.

A school spokesperson confirmed on Thursday that Ashcraft’s Bulldog career has come to an end.

Ashcraft did not play for MSU in 2018 after being sidelined for the year by a hip injury. He saw 10 games, including five starts, in his freshman season in 2017 before missing the rest of that season with a prior hip injury, different from the one that derailed his entire 2018 campaign.

In his lone season of action, the hard-throwing right hander boasted a 2-0 record. He had a 5.62 earned run average over 24 innings of work, allowing 24 hits and 16 walks while striking out 25 batters.

Bryant inks with the Jets

Former MSU safety Brandon Bryant was not selected during Wednesday’s NFL Supplemental Draft, however he did find a professional home before the day was done.

Bryant has signed as a free agent with the New York Jets. The Tunica native took to Twitter to express his joy.

“NY Jets I have something to prove,” Bryant posted. “This decision will be one that I will never forget.”

Bryant played in 38 games for MSU over his three-year playing career. He started 25 of those contests and finished his career with 157 tackles with 3.5 of those for loss. He had 1.5 sacks, 12 pass deflections, forced a fumble and had five interceptions.

Bryant announced in April that he would not return to MSU in 2018 for what would have been his senior season. First-year Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead stated early on during spring practice that Bryant was sitting out dealing with academic issues and the plan was originally to bring Bryant back. However, Bryant ultimately moved on from MSU.