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Cole's Corner: New SEC coaches will look to make waves in Mid-South

Rivals national recruiting analyst Cole Patterson takes a look at the current landscape in college football with coaching and transfer announcements dominating the headlines.

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The coaching carousel and transfer portal are heating up in a big way with the Early Signing Period just weeks away. Even without the portal officially open, there have been marquee players announce their intentions to transfer to a different program.

Long-time starters, especially at the quarterback position, are looking for opportunities to win big – and, in some cases, cash in with NIL. Coaches are looking to capitalize on the movement and potentially get over the hump as the College Football Playoff expands to 12 teams next year.

A pair of notable coaching changes occurred in the Mid-South region that are already having some impact on the recruiting landscape. The biggest of which is Texas A&M, where former Duke head coach Mike Elko has taken over in College Station, replacing his former boss Jimbo Fisher in the process.

Many recruits in the Lone Star State are in a wait-and-see approach. They know about Elko and his background at A&M but also want to get to know him personally while learning his vision for the program moving forward.

Among the biggest tasks on Elko’s desk are ...

1. Retaining the commitment of dynamic, do-it-all weapon Terry Bussey, who could play either side of the ball and has been pledged to the Aggies since September.

2. Keeping elite wide receiver Cameron Coleman in the fold while fighting off Auburn.

3. Getting Rivals250 wideout Dre’lon Miller back in the class after he backed off a pledge to the Aggies in October.

The resources, recruiting footprint and fan support are all there for Elko to succeed. Retaining key players and making the right hires will be a determining factor in how successful his tenure is.

Elsewhere in the region, Mississippi State moved on from Zach Arnett before the conclusion of his first season at the helm. The Bulldogs went with offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby to give the program a spark with his history of lighting up the scoreboard at Oklahoma, Ole Miss and UCF.

The top commit in the class, JJ Harrell, has vocally reaffirmed his commitment after the hire. Whereas top target – and former pledge – Braylon Burnside is intrigued about learning more as he’s in the thick of a classic Mississippi State-Ole Miss battle.

A first-time head coach, Lebby will be under the microscope in an SEC that is adding power programs Texas and Oklahoma to the schedule next fall. There are few questions about his offense, but who will run the defense and how big of a transition will it be in running a whole program for the first time?

There’s a lot of change happening in college football. Either embrace it or get left behind.