Spring football notes: LSU, Ole Miss & MSU

Spring football has concluded across the Southeastern Conference. Notes today include information on the LSU Tigers, the Ole Miss Rebels and the Mississippi State Bulldogs.


Sophomore quarterback Matt Mauck passed for 241 yards, including the game-winning TD with just over two minutes left, to pace the Purple team to a 13-10 win over the White squad in the LSU Spring Game on April 27.

Nick Saban

Senior linebacker Bradie James missed the last week of spring practice due to a contused kidney. James made the move from will linebacker to the mike linebacker during the spring. James had been a 3-year starter at will linebacker. He takes over at mike linebacker for Trev Faulk, who left early for the NFL.

Junior Corey Webster moved from offense (wide receiver) to defense (cornerback) during the spring and he responded by returning an interception 72 yards for a touchdown in the Spring Game. Webster also finished with one tackle and 2 deflected passes in the Spring Game.

Other position changes for the Tigers during the spring had junior Jack Hunt moving from wide receiver to free safety, senior Damien James moving from cornerback to free safety, and junior Devery Henderson moving from running back to wide receiver.

With returning starting running back LaBrandon Toefield out of spring practice with an injured knee, redshirt freshman running back Joseph Addai led the Tigers in rushing in all three scrimmages, including 65 yards on 11 carries in the Spring Game.

Toefield, who tore the ACL in his left knee in the SEC Championship game, is ahead of schedule in rehabilitating his knee. Toefield is expected to return at full strength when fall camp starts in August.

LSU sophomore quarterback Marcus Randall injured his right knee in the Spring Game on Saturday. Randall, who was battling for the starting position with Matt Mauck, underwent an MRI on Sunday. The details of the knee injury are expected to be released on Monday.

"We were pleased with the way our spring went," Saban said. "We had a lot of players make good progress. The expectations are going to be higher than they ever have been which is going to make it a much more treacherous track. I asked our guys are we going to be a one year 10-win team or are we going to do this on a consistent basis. We don't have a lot of options right now with Marcus Randall out, we have the players that are on our team and that's it. Marcus was having an outstanding spring and it's unfortunate he tore his ACL. He is going to need surgery and will be out a minimum of four months."


Quarterback Eli Manning brought his team from a 21-0 deficit to a 49-21 victory in the annual Red-Blue game as he completed 25 of 38 passes for 378 yards and two TDs.

David Cutcliffe

Quarterback Eli Manning, who set or tied 17 school records during his first season as the starter at Ole Miss, has been named to the 2002 Playboy All-America squad.

Senior wide receiver Jason Armstead used an outstanding performance during the spring game to separate himself a little from the other receivers as he caught eight passes for 187 yards.

Center Ben Claxton , linebacker Lanier Goethie, linebacker Eddie Strong, and tight end Doug Zeigler will serve as permanent team captains for Ole Miss in 2002.

Linebacker Lanier Goethie received the Chucky Mullins Courage Award. Goethie is the 13th winner of the prestigious award which honors the memory of Mullins, who was paralyzed after making a tackle against Vanderbilt during the 1989 Homecoming game, and then passed away on May 6, 1991. As a special part of the award, Goethie will wear the late Mullins' No. 38 this fall. Goethie had worn No. 2 during his entire career with the Rebels.

The Jeff Hamm Memorial Award for the most improved offensive and defensive players from the 2002 spring football drills went to offensive guard Doug Buckles and defensive back Chris Knight.

Center Ben Claxton received the J. Richard Price Courage and Compassion Award, which is presented annually to the rising senior lineman who, in the opinion of his coaches, has demonstrated extraordinary courage and unusual compassion in his dedication to his team and to Ole Miss.

Punter Shae Orrell missed most of spring drills due to thyroid cancer, which was surgically removed. According to Dr. Ford Dye, Orrell will require some additional medical treatment, but his prognosis is good.

Following spring drills, junior college transfer running back Ronald McClendon had "scope" surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. McClendon injured his knee just before halftime in the Red-Blue game, but returned to action in the second half and went on to lead all rushers with 64 yards on 17 carries. Defensive back Bryant Thomas, a redshirt freshman who was impressive during spring drills, had surgery in April to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Rehabilitation was immediately begun, but his status for the fall is unknown at this time.

Ole Miss set a new spring game attendance mark when 27,215 fans attended the annual Red-Blue "Grove Bowl" event. Proceeds from the game, which is sponsored by the Ole Miss M-Club Alumni Association, go to the J. W. "Wobble" Davidson Scholarship fund.

"I thought we had good work during the spring," Cutcliffe said. "15 days is not enough time for any football coach, but I though our attitude was outstanding. We had a new defense installed and it is going to take a little more time to adjust to that, but we had a very physical spring and I think everything will be fine. We are going to a 4-2-5 scheme on defense which very few teams run. Our personal here fit very well into this scheme. I like the system, I like the philosophy and I think we are going to be a good defensive football team."


Starting power forward Michael Gholar, who helped the Mississippi State basketball team reach the second round of the NCAA basketball tournament, made quite a splash with the football team when he arrived at spring practice midway through those drills, Thursday, March 21. In just nine practices (three of which were scrimmages), free safety Michael Gholar moved to second on the depth chart behind starter Josh Morgan.

Jackie Sherrill

Inside linebacker Jason Clark made the move to defensive end during spring practice and ended the four-week session as the starter on the left side. Kamau Jackson made a similar move to the right side and is second behind Robert Spivey at the position.

Regular place-kicker John Michael Marlin was pushed during spring practice by non-scholarship, junior college transfer Brent Smith, who capped off the spring-ending Maroon and White scrimmage by making three straight field goals, from 47, 52 and 57 yards. That competition is expected to continue into August.

Likewise, the competition at punter is fierce as well. Jared Cook and Robert Wallis, both of whom punted last year, were locked in a tight battle this spring.

Regular offensive tackle Derrick Thompson, one of the few veterans on the offensive line, missed all of spring practice while rehabilitating his knee from off-season surgery.

Returning regular offensive guard Donald Tucker moved outside to offensive tackle in place of Thompson and earned the starter's berth at the position.

One of the brightest surprises of spring came in one of the team's smallest packages. Dog safety Bryan Shumaker (5-7, 185), who redshirted last fall after seeing only special teams duty as a true freshman, turned heads with his hard-hitting style. He is listed second at right Dog safety.

First-unit Dog safety Walter Burdett missed most of spring practice after suffering a dislocated shoulder in a contact drill with regular tailback Dontae Walker early in drills and had surgery. Walker also ended the spring practice of wide receiver Justin Jenkins when the former hit the latter on a running play, breaking a rib. Walker did not go unscathed during the four-week session, missing the final week with an ankle sprain.

Regular quarterback Kevin Fant finished his spring on a high note, completing 18-of-22 passes for 201 yards and four touchdowns.

"Spring practice, as always, everyone's mind-set is what kind of football team we have," Sherrill said. "We also re-evaluate and see if the kids you have coming in early have and get them ready to play and see what kind of talent is on your team. The thing the I've said is all of us football coaches is here temporarily and we are in the business called survival. This is my last ride and hopefully I will be here for a while. The league is strong because of the leadership it has had and it will continue to have. It is a league that really works together and they don't restrict some of the people in the conference."

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