Signal Caller Shuffle

Mississippi State quarterback coach Brian Johnson was able to exhale a bit once Heisman Candidate Dak Prescott announced he planned to return for his senior season. The top spot on Johnson's depth chart was never really a question. The race for the #2 spot behind Prescott is still a matter of some debate. With the promotion of Nick Fitzgerald to Prescott's back up, things are getting interesting.

"The guys have had a great mindset here," Johnson said. "They've come out everyday and tried to get better. They're all trying to accomplish the little details that we want to get better at in our game.

"The beautiful thing about spring practice is that you kind of get to take a step back and refocus on your technique and all of the fundamentals. We are always trying to get something positive out of the deal. We don't play anybody, so we're going to come out of this 0-0. It's still great to find some real competition, but at the same time be able to devote some time to your own individual techniques."

Mississippi State fans are excited about the things that Dak Prescott brings to the table as a football player. Looking towards next year, it appears that Nick Fitzgerald has made a serious move towards being the starter for 2016. Johnson recently elevated Fitzgerald to #2 on the depth chart.

"Nick has taken some really solid strides," Johnson said. "It's a credit to how much he has put into it. I think his demeanor has started to change as he has become more comfortable. He's beginning to understand the things he is able to do.

"To develop a quarterback it takes a really long time. He still has some things to improve upon, but he is making all of the necessary strides at this point in spring."

Even for a veteran player like Prescott, Johnson has seen some improvement and some fine tuning as #15 makes an effort to bring his best foot forward this fall.

"I think everything is starting to slow down for him, which is what you would like to see from a fifth year senior," Johnson said. "He should be at a point now where he sees things happening before it happens. I think he's getting to that point and understanding the puzzle of 22 every single snap. That only comes with a bunch of reps and he has had a bunch here in spring ball. He's seen a lot.

"He's bringing the young guys along too and that's important for us. When you're in the position he's in and you get the attention that he gets with the high profile he has, I think there is somewhat of an obligation to pass that along to the young guys. I think you have to show them how to operate on a daily basis. He's in a real unique situation, because he has already graduated. It's almost like he's a pro."

In addition to the mental aspect of his game, Prescott appears to have shown a strong commitment to his physical fitness heading into this final season in Starkville.

"He is constantly in the training room taking care of his body," Johnson said. "He is at a ridiculous level when it comes to his commitment to become a great player. Part of his job now is to pass all of that down to our young guys and helping them understand the importance of all of that in their own quests to be successful."

Just over a year ago, Johnson was still getting settled into his new surroundings and getting to know what he really had in his meeting room. A season later, the former Utah star is more comfortable with his roster and his role on the Mississippi State staff.

"I know these guys now," Johnson said. "Everybody here if family. I think our relationship has blossomed in the time that I have been here. The guys are always at my house and essentially they are a part of my family now. They know my wife and they know my little girl. We have such a great relationship with all of the quarterbacks in the room.

"We have a lot of trust in each other and that goes a long way in the player/coach relationship. If you can trust the guy who is coaching you, then I think that goes a long way into your development. I couldn't ask for a better group of guys to coach everyday."


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