Young Safeties Unit Will Be Exciting to Watch

Mississippi State safeties coach Tony Hughes is excited about the talent of his young players.

Although he has very little when it comes to veterans who have played in a number of SEC games, Mississippi State safeties coach is excited about the talented youngsters he has on hand. One of those players is sophomore Dee Arrington, a four-star prospect during his senior season of high school ball.

"Dee has a lot of ability," said Hughes. "He is a very, very talented young man. But it's a developmental thing. He had to develop as a freshman, which has helped him. The more he plays, the more confident he will be."

Another youngster to watch is sophomore Jay Hughes.

"Having Jay for an entire year is exciting," said Hughes.

Jay is an example of the type program that Mississippi State is in some cases. Bring in a player who is athletic enough to play a number of positions but still needs to physically develop and learn the position.

"We sometimes take kids that may be a little raw and need some developing," said Hughes. "As they grow and develop, they become team players. They don't get stuck and say I came here to do this or do that. They are flexible enough so they do what they need to do to help the team. That can also get them on the field quicker and get playing time. That's why it's an easy transition for those players."

A third youngster that excites Hughes is redshirt freshman Kendrick Market, another player who needed a redshirt year to develop.

"Kendrick is a work ethic kid who does everything the right way and loves the game of football," said Hughes. "As a redshirt freshman, the more he plays the better he will get."

While the safety positions consists mostly of young players, there is one guy who has played quite a bit during his first two years at Mississippi State, junior two-year letterman Nickoe Whitley. Whitley appears to be most of the way back from an injury he suffered last season.

"Getting Nickoe out there has made a big difference for us," said Hughes. "Getting his experience back has really helped. And having him out there gives confidence to the entire group."

Overall, Hughes has been very happy with the improvement he has seen from his young guys.

"One of the biggest differences I see from them is their confidence," he said. "They go out there and know the calls, know what the plays are. They can go out there now and not have to think about the play, not be a robot, but go out there and play wide open."

Two players who are still in the learning and developing stage are the two true freshmen, Quadry Antoine and Deonte Evans.

"With Quadry, we have to keep practicing with him," said Hughes. "We just have to keep developing him. But we do think he's a physical player. And Deonte is like Quadry, he is still learning and we are still learning him."

Hughes expects big things from both youngsters in the future.

"Both are very athletic kids, have great work ethics and great intensity," he said. "Once they learn the game, I think they are going to be really good players."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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