Chauncey Rivers (5), along with Greenwood’s Marquiss Spencer, need to step it up in 2019 for Mississippi State’s defense to stay strong again this season.

Mississippi State is replacing plenty of production on the defensive line for the upcoming 2019 season.

Gone are tackle Jeffery Simmons and ends Montez Sweat and Gerri Green, all to the NFL, so the MSU defense is in desperate need of playmakers up front. And while the pieces may be inexperienced, senior defensive end Chauncey Rivers figures to bridge that gap.

Also look for Greenwood’s Marquiss Spencer, a former top Mississippi prospect,  was good enough to play as a true freshman in 2016, and when he played in 2017, he made things happen.

Spencer played in MSU’s first four games of 2018, with  three tackles and a half-tackle for loss, but was lost for the season due to a shoulder injury. He has appeared in 29 games during his first three seasons in Starkville. He has made 39 career tackles along with eight stops for loss, two sacks, three fumble recoveries and two pass deflections.

Spencer, a Greenwood High School product, is 285 pounds, maybe a little heavier than most defensive ends go. Spencer could actually move to defensive tackle to add depth there, head coach Joe Moorhead said during the spring.

At 6-foot-3, 275 pounds, Rivers has the size to take over Sweat’s spot on the edge. A one-time Georgia player, he recorded 24 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 13 games last season.

Even though Rivers saw action in every game in 2018, MSU coach Joe Moorhead explained that with another year of defensive coordinator Bob Shoop’s scheme under his belt the Bulldog coaching staff are expecting big numbers from Rivers.

“I think Chauncey is really poised for a breakout year,” Moorhead said. “I think he made a lot of really great plays last year, particularly in the pass game. He’s got a very diverse skill-set when it comes to getting to the passer and I think the biggest thing that he worked on this offseason was his size and his strength and I think he is going to be equally effective against the run as he is against the pass this year.”

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