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Dan Mullen counting on All-SEC performance from overlooked prospect

For the first time in a long time, Mississippi State will enter the fall with high expectations. The College Football Live poll, voted on by a bevy of ESPN writers, editors, and TV analysts, has the Bulldogs ranked #21 in their pre-season poll.

Urban’s vote may have nudged the Bulldogs up one spot from #22.

Head coach Dan Mullen knows the Bulldogs are entering unchartered territory.

Mullen explained, “It’s a very different year for us -- for our team, for our fan base. We have expectations this year. Last year we went out to prove people wrong -- we wanted to prove we could be better than what they expected of us. Now we have high expectations. Now we have to prove people right this year.’’

The third-year head coach is expecting big things from running back Vick Ballard, who rushed for 968 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2010.

According to both Scout and Rivals, Ballard was a 3-star recruit coming out of Mississippi Gulf Coast CC. His only other offer was from Troy University.

Mullen said, “We expect an All-SEC performance out of him this season and want him to take his game to the next level. We expect him to be a leader of our team, carry our offense and team through next season.’’

It seems as though the Bulldogs did a great job of evaluating Ballard, who seemingly was overlooked by many on the recruiting front.

Mississippi State will begin the season at Memphis, at Auburn, then host LSU on Thursday night primetime.