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Nothing Elementary About MSU’s Watson and Jett

The 2023 version of the Mississippi State Bulldogs will be led on defense by two of the top returning linebackers in the SEC - Nathaniel Watson and Jett Johnson. Both are graduate students and have over 400 combined career tackles between them.

That bodes well for defensive-minded head coach Zach Arnett.

Nathaniel Watson

In 2022, Watson posted 113 tackles to go along with 12 tackles for loss and 6 sacks. In addition, he added an INT and a forced fumble on his way to 2nd Team All-SEC honors.

Watson racked up double-digit tackles in seven games last year, including four in a row against Kentucky (17 tackles), Alabama (10 tackles), Auburn (10 tackles), and Georgia (16 tackles).

He recorded 10 tackles against arch-rival Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, a 24-22 win by the Bulldogs.

Since his arrival in Starkville, Watson has made 237 career tackles.

Jett Johnson

Johnson racked up 115 tackles last season for the Bulldogs. He also added 8.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and 2 pass breakups. He combined with Watson to become the only teammates to lead their conference in tackles, according to

Johnson posted double-digit tackles in six games in 2022, including three games in a row against Texas A&M (10 tackles), Arkansas (11 tackles), and Kentucky (10 tackles). In the win against Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, Johnson recorded 10 tackles.

For his career, Johnson has collected 202 tackles for the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs only return 4 starters on the defensive side of the ball. But when you combine Watson and Johnson with NG Nathan Pickering and CB Decamerion Richardson, you have experience at all three levels.

And the cowbells will be ringing loud and proud in Davis Wade Stadium as the Bulldogs open the 2023 season when they host the Lions of Southeastern Louisiana on September 2nd.


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