Coach Dan Mullen expects to meet with the maximum preseason roster of 105 players when Mississippi State begins preparing for the 2014 season. Wednesday’s morning team gathering will lay out the schedule for the ensuing month’s work, with actual practice set for Thursday afternoon. That is the first of 28 working days for the Bulldogs this preseason, including a couple of scrimmage sessions.
Unlike the previous five years, no practice or scrimmage is open to the general public. Fans can get an early acquaintance with the team though on August 24, with the annual Fan Day moving to both a Sunday afternoon time and to Scott Field. That will serve as a double-opportunity too as fans can get a real inside look at the renovated and expanded Davis Wade Stadium. The two-year project is nearing completion with athletic director Scott Stricklin due to take ‘handover’ of the facility on August 20. This coincides with the 100th season of play at Mississippi State’s historic venue.
As for Mullen’s sixth Bulldog team, it looks a lot like last year’s if judged by returning starters, lettermen, even reserves and redshirts. “We have 30 guys that started games last year returning this year,” Mullen said in a provided statement. This includes 18 of the 22 position starters and one specialist who routed Rice in the Liberty Bowl to end the 2013 season, and complete a dramatic three-victory streak with overtime wins over Arkansas and Ole Miss. The impressive finish by these veteran Dogs to one year is why expectations for this one are higher than summer temperatures.
Mississippi State counts 57 lettermen going into this camp, and that doesn’t factor in some supporting role players who also got on the field last fall. Or, a well-regarded group of redshirts who now get to make their case in preseason camp to have varsity roles in fall. Either way, Mullen said, “To have all those guys come back that played a lot in big games is pretty special.”
The 105-man roster will miss a couple of spring names as linebackers Ferlando Bohanna and Dee Arrington are stepping aside for health issues. Redshirt defensive lineman Trent Simpson is giving up his place on the team though this is not official. As for any late-summer clearances and practicing walk-ons, an updated roster is to be provided media tomorrow. Also when fall semester classes begin, the roster can expand to 120 players.
Regarding new arrivals and deletions, Mullen will speak with media after the first practice day. But Wednesday for writers is also their own first ‘reporting’ day of this preseason with player interviews scheduled.
The Bulldogs and Davis Wade Stadium alike re-open for real business on August 30 when State hosts Southern Mississippi in a 6:30 kickoff.