David Murray - Happy July 29th Bulldog fans, which brings up two things. Happy Birthday Dak Prescott. Our big Bulldog is celebrating today. And he gets his celebration done just in time for the other issue. We are four days away from the start of (football) practice at Mississippi State. I believe the Bulldogs official reporting day is Sunday but that is kind of an anachronism now Steve because most of (the players) have been here all summer. Let's talk about the two or three that aren't here or aren't here yet. I believe we do know that Dontea Jones will not be qualifying for this season. But update us on Farrod Green and T.D. Moton.
Steve Robertson - "Farrod Green looks to be in good shape. Everything that everybody says to this point is that he is expected to clear with no problem. There was hope that they would get him in for one of the summer sessions but that didn't happen. But he is anticipated to be here. And he says he is going to make it.
"The T.D. Moton situation is a little bit more unsettled. And a lot of it is due to the transfers. It is one of those situations where he transferred to multiple high schools, then he had some work to do to kind of get caught up. We are told that he is a qualifier on paper. Now, whether the NCAA Clearninghouse agrees with that and gives him the stamp remains to be seen. He is the one guy that is in limbo now.
"Farrod Green is expected to be here but he will probably redshirt because fact number one State has their needs met for this year, and (two) it is so late in the process to get caught up physically.
"Dontea Jones, another guy you mentioned, is kind of a factor in that as well because he is going to be in prep school in North Carolina. He will resign with Mississippi State in December, then enroll in January. Yes, you lose him but it is basically a glorified redshirt."
David Murray - The good news is none of these players were being counted by Mississippi State to play this season. It would be nice to have the depth at tight end and defensive line positions. But like you said both were probably going to redshirt this season given as how well not just in numbers but seniority and experience they have at those positions. When practice starts and we are not assured what we will be able to observe in practice, but there is a possibility that we will be able to observe a little. Not the public, I'm sorry, but just media. What we will be watching for is who is healthy. So, let's go over the guys who we think should be healthy based on spring ball. Kendrick Market could have practiced it appeared. He was certainly out on the field coaching his fellow safeties. So, I think things are positive on him. And Dezmond Harris, another guy that they will be looking for.
Steve Robertson - "Yeah, there is no question. And as you saw last year Dez was an absolute monster on special teams. I think at one point State led the nation in kickoff coverage. And after Dez left that number kind of creeped up a little. But you are right about Kendrick Market. And he is a guy that people know what he can do anyway. He has nothing to prove. So the spring was beneficial to allow some of those other guys to get some reps and get interaction with the coaches. And Damian Williams was a guy that we didn't get to see much of during the spring. It looks like he is good to go as well."
David Murray - Mississippi State's media day will be on campus next Friday. It is for media only, not the public. All the position coaches will be speaking with the media. We'll get a more clear update on where guys stand once the contact practices start late next week. Other things to be watching for is who is making moves, who is moving around. At this point I would think the lineup is fairly well, well settled is the wrong word because you want to keep the competition going full-time. But you know who the quarterback is, you know who your linebackers are, you know who your starting defensive linemen are in most cases. But what would you want to look at? I know in my case that I want to watch the offensive line.
Steve Robertson - "Yeah, there is no question. You want to see how they have jelled. We did see some hiccups in the spring. But by and large there was pretty solid play. The running backs on offense is something that I think is interesting because you do have Ashton Shumpert coming back. And you know what he can do. But you have a couple of redshirt freshmen that you are very excited about. Dontavian Lee and Aries Williams both had great springs. Dontavian Lee might be the guy when it is all said and done. So, I am anxious to see how that maturation process kind of moves on. Then, on defense what about those safeties? What will Jamal Peters play? Is he ready to get out there and compete with the first team?"
David Murray - Not only that but Mississippi State is a little thin at safety with Jahmere Irvin-Sills leaving. You are basically down to Kendrick Market coming back healthy and you have Kivon Coman. After that you have redshirt Brandon Bryant and true freshman Jamal Peters. I will say this about Dan Mullen and his coordinators, over the years if a freshman can play they are going to play these guys. And (Jamal Peters) is one guy they are looking at. Steve, you mentioned Ashton Shumpert. I was talking to Coach Mullen in Jackson a week ago at the Central Mississippi Extravaganza and he wanted a talking point. I told him you have four guys who didn't start a game last year who are all on the All-American Watch List. And Ashton Shumpert is one of them. He was actually surprised that Shumpert was on the Doak Walker list. I think that is not just a reflection in what people saw from Ashton Shumpert but also a reflection on what Mississippi State has done at running back. If you look at what Greg Knox and Dan Mullen have done, they have continued to send running backs to the NFL.
Steve Robertson - "There is no question about it. Anthony Dixon, yes he was a senior, but he had his best year in this offense. And of course Vick Ballard becomes one of the most beloved Bulldogs of the modern era after his two years here. Then you had LaDarius Perkins and Josh Robinson. Yeah, you are right, that is a tip of the hat to Greg Knox. Whatever running back he puts out there has been productive. I think that is (one of the things) that makes this year so exciting. I believe his depth chart is one of the most talented during his entire time here."
David Murray - That brings up a point, too. You fans saw where Mississippi State, during SEC Media Days, was voted 7th in the SEC West. Now, let's be realistic about that. You could throw those seven teams together and come up with another list and it would probably just as likely because nobody knows who is best in the West. They just know that all seven are very good. But what media did, and I can speak of this since I am one of that tribe although I voted Mississippi State a good bit higher, is they saw that Josh Robinson is gone, Preston Smith is gone, Benardrick McKinney is gone, you lost some offensive linemen. That is all they see. They didn't see spring ball and what Coach Mullen has to work with this year. And I certainly think there is a great supporting cast, maybe the best in State history. If the offensive line jells and the safety position settles, then this team is equally talented as last year, if not better in some areas.
Steve Robertson - "Not only that but you have guys like Chris Jones and Will Redmond who are on national watch lists and they didn't even start last year. Both of them are projected to go very high in the NFL draft this year. You are basically writing a narrative for Dan Mullen in the future. Even our backups are on NFL watch lists. That is a recruiting selling point that anybody can run with. But like you said it is a research thing where you lose Josh Robinson, Dillon Day and Ben Beckwith. And no matter how they got here they were very, very solid during their time here. (The media) don't have the faith in (offensive line coach) John Hevesy that Mississippi State fans do because they just look at the numbers, who is returning, who is not. But at this time last year we were having the same discussion about the offensive line. Now we are seeing those same guys from last year who weren't supposed to be able to play are almost replaceable. I think that is a testament to this coaching staff. I think the team will do really well this year. I don't care what the media says."
David Murray - I think it is a testament too to the recruiting depth that Mississippi State has built up over the past five years. They can step right now, Yes, they have to prove themselves in a live game. But the expectations are high, justifiably so. Monday, it all gets started. Steve, I know you will be out of town next week on a well-deserved vacation before things really get started. Gene Swindoll and I will be covering practice next week as things get going in Bulldog Country. I was driving through town yesterday and saw junior high teams already working out. Practice has already started for them. So, in their honor, I wore my Taylorsville Tartor green today because they will starting practice soon as well. Steve wore the college colors. It is not far to football practice guys. So, enjoy this last weekend while you can and get ready for a heavy, heavy five months ahead in Bulldog Country. For Gene Swindoll and Steve Robertson this is David Murray saying summer is almost over and it is about time!
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.