Mississippi State freshman running back Ashton Shumpert responded to the challenge with LaDarius Perkins sidelined with an injury for the victorious Bulldogs, and led the team in rushing in his collegiate debut.
With Perkins out with an ankle injury and six other starters injured, it was Shumpert who looked every bit like the four-star recruit Scott Sallach and Greg Knox recruited to Starkville in the Bulldogs’ first win of the season. Shumpert walked off Scott Field at David Wade Stadium for the first time in his college career with 98 yards on 22 carries and became the first Bulldog freshman to score two touchdowns since Michael Davis in 1991.
Head coach Dan Mullen was awfully impressed with his freshman phenom. “He ran hard,” Mullen tells Paul Jones of 247 Sports. “I think he’s got to get a little lower and it’s okay to make people miss every once in awhile. He likes contact and he will get to watch that and learn from that. But he ran physical and I am pleased with what he did.”
Shumpert ran for 1,796 yards and 25 touchdowns, while adding 205 receiving yards and three more scores in his senior season at Itawamba Agricultural High School after transferring from Tupelo High School.
It is unknown when Perkins will return from his injury, but in the interim, Mississippi State looks to be in good hands with Shumpert, who will combine with top recruit Aeris Williams next year to give the Bulldogs a formidable backfield in 2014.