In Starkville, Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen returns 13 starting players, six on offense and seven on defense.
One of the seven is linebacker Richie Brown, a former Long Beach High School standout who was named 2011 WLOX Defensive Player of the Year.
On February 1, 2012 Richie Brown decided he would continue his football career with Mississippi State. He signed on the dotted line before Long Beach High School student body and teaches.
He was a stellar fullback and linebacker in high school and knew it would be only a matter of time before Brown would become a prime time player at Mississippi State.
The 6-2,240 pound senior middle linebacker is only 3 tackles shy of reaching 200 career tackles. He enters 2016 with 17 tackles for a loss, 8 and a-half sacks and five interceptions.
Brown is now working with his 3rd defensive coordinator at Mississippi State. Peter Sirmon replaces coach Diaz, who had replaced coach Collins.
Brown said, "All the coaches kind of preach the same thing. Look guys, it's defense. We tackle the guy with the ball. Defense is defense, but what is going to be our identity? Are we going to work hard? What are we going to do with the defense to separate ourselves from that generic idea of defense of just tackling."
Richie is a three-time SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll member and is a Butkus Award candidate.
No. 39 is a key member of the Bulldogs defensive unit, one that will rely on his leadership and athletic ability.
Brown and his Bulldog teammates open the 2016 season in Starkville hosting South Alabama on September 3rd.
Copyright 2016 WLOX. All Rights Reserved.