Dan Mullen Reviews First Spring Practice

“Great to be out here, this is what we work hard for. To come out and play football. I think we had a great off-season of guys training, working hard. Now they get to come out and go enjoy it, apply it to the game of football. So I think everybody was a lot of fun to be out here.”

”I loved it, we had a great attitude in this team, great effort. So I’m not worried about that.”

“The tempo of practice was good. We don’t have any pads on so it’s really hard to see what’s going on. But a lot of new faces that are going to have to learn and thing and do things really fast. It’s going to be a good spring for them as we get time in-between practices for them to see it, digest it, learn from it, and hopefully be a little better next time they step on the field.”

Did you focus on any one area or walk around to every unit? “Well, you know I’m a little bit more on offense, as always. It’s just my deal. But I love going over there with the defensive guys, trying to be over there and make sure we’re running to the ball.”

“I mean, out style of defense isn’t going to change. Schematically we might run an adjustment to coverage or a different blitz or two. But we’re going to have eleven guys playing with relentless effort, running to the football, and that’s what is important to me on the defensive side of the ball.”

You have several redshirts and freshmen trying to make a jump, what did you see out of them? “We’ll see. I want to go look at all of them on film. Like you said there’s a lot of them.”

“40% of our team has never played in a game, not just the redshirt freshmen; a lot of true freshmen, guys that just graduated to get in here in midyear enrollees. So a lot of guys that have never played in the game. This is really to me their first chance ot absorb it. The mid-year enrollees it’s a little bit slower so they get to learn it. The redshirt freshmen, they’ve been here. How much they absorbed last year and now they can see how much they realize fast it’s all going for them.”

Are Damien Robinson, Cedric Jiles, Shelby Christy and others full-speed at this point? “I don’t know that they’re full-speed. But they are cleared to practice. They’re 100% cleared to practice! It’s hard for me to say they’re all 100% because they all haven’t been cleared the whole off-season. They’re still building back up to that. So it’s good to see them out there.”

“We have a bunch of guys banged-up, a couple of carry-overs from last season; a couple of spring conditioning with De’Runnya (Wilson) and Damian (Williams), J.T. Dez (Harris) and Quad (Antoine) and Taveze (Calhoun) are still carry-overs from last season. We hope to get Dez doing something by the end. The others, I don’t see Kendrick (Market) or Taveze.”

Elijah Staley? “Elijah will be out all spring. The great thing is at quarterback though that’s one position, fortunately it’s his leg and not his back leg. He can actually sit and throw and he’s going to get some quality work despite being out for the spring.”

You had a rough spring break news wise, did you talk to the guys about trying to avoid bad situations? “Well we always do that within the program. We’re always trying to develop guys. You know, spring break is when everybody is away from campus and a lot in home towns all over the country with different things going on.”

“So the two incidents we had over spring break I guess the only way you can control both of them is locking yourself in your house. Those guys are kids, they want to go out. Dak (Prescott), they’re going to out and try to have fun. De’Runnya is with friends at home. You try to get guys to make good decisions, but they’re college kids.”

Is Dak OK, are there any residual effects? “He threw a bad pass in the first 7-on-7 route. I don’t know if that was an effect right there. The rest of the day he looked OK. No, he’s fine.”

”I think it’s a learning experience for him. He wants to be a college kid. In today’s world and college athletics that’s not the case, you can’t be a college kid any more. You’re held to a different standard.”

How has the game changed in the sense Dak can’t be a college kid, have you had that conversation? “Yeah. But it’s still hard. I mean I’ve been around it before. Tim Tebow couldn’t be a college kid at the very end of his career. Alex Smith it was hard for him to be a college kid. You see that with guys.”

“And you know, they’ve got to learn. They can’t go lock themselves in a room. Dak is a 21-year-old kid doing what 90% of the rest of the college kids in the country are out there trying to have fun and go have a good time, be out with friends. But, he might maybe some girls talk to him that maybe wouldn’t have talked to him if he wasn’t a star quarterback. And with that comes some great responsibilities. There’s some good things with it but there’s also a lot of responsibilities.”

With Wilson and Elgton Jenkins arrests, will there be any discipline for them? “Any time that any of our players are accused of anything we thoroughly investigate. We don’t rush to the headlines and all that stuff. We want to get a full, thorough investigation of what goes on. You know, cooperate with all the authorities involved and get to the bottom of the reality of situations. Then we’ll look at discipline issues. And we’ll handle all that internally.”

Jamaal Clayborn was at center today, is he the frontrunner? “The issue that you have right there is our top three centers from last year graduated. So we’re going to be experimenting there a bunch.”

“Because it’s not just about the one and looking at Jamaal. We experimented with that in bowl prep a little bit, to give him some opportunities there to see if he was comfortable. He’s worked all off-season snapping. So I think that’s a starting point. But we also have to create some depth at that position. So we’re probably going to experiment with a couple of different guys at points throughout the spring.”

What do you like about Jamoral Graham at cornerback? “One, our corner depth is a little bit low. He and I met, we had a lot of receivers coming back with a couple of mid-year enrollees. He and met and said hey, it’s a great opportunity for you. It might not be permanent, I don’t know. But let’s see. You’re going to right in the mix in the two-deep on day-one when you walk out to practice at the corner position. Where you’re battling for reps at the receiver position right now.”

“And he’s a competitor. I mean he’s like Coach whatever I need to do to get on the field I can go do it. And I think he has the skill set to be able to. His quickness, and athleticism and his physicality allow him to do either.”

What do you like about Aeris Williams? “Aeris always has a great attitude, he’s going to go as hard as he can at everything he’s doing. When you’ve got a guy like Aeris you want to get the pads on him. He’s a physical type player so you’re not going to really see much out of his game until the pads come on.”

Did Brandon Wells give any explanation for leaving? “We met a bunch. He just thought it was in his best interest to start anew and get himself a fresh start and just move on. I think he’s at Pearl River (CC) right now, his sister I think teaches down there too. He has a lot of family support and a chance to get a solid foundation under himself.”

Have you heard back on Damien Robinson’s sixth year? “We’ll wait and hear. But he’s taking care of everything he needs to do. One, he’s coming off a bunch of injuries. So I think this spring is going to determine even if he gets that year can he even do it, if he does. He’s been out of rlamost a year so can he actually come back?”

ATTACHED: First five minutes of today's interview.

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