Well, that came comically true Sunday. J.T. Gray (white sport shirt, khaki slacks, gold tinted hair highlights) scored an upset of monumental, more or less, proportions as he won the annual hay bale toss competition. Sophomore linebacker Gray, at 195 pounds, defeated 325-pound Nick James (sleeveless gray tee-shirt, floppy cap, humungous biceps) and took the defensive tackle’s crown in the process.
James had won the 2014 title in something of an upset as well, knocking off two-time winner Kaleb Eulls. When James began with a throw of 29 feet it seemed he would easily defend. But Gray had other ideas.
Using a one-step spin and underhand fling, Gray loosed a throw that touched down at 30 feet even. Gray did not throw again; James had two more shots. His first went 28 feet, then with a lengthy build-up and overhand push he was able to get to 29-and-a-half feet.
Not enough, as Gray celebrated. His secret? “Technique,” Gray proclaimed. The Clarksdale, Miss., native added that he’d learned how to throw hay bales during a summer in Arizona.
Sunday’s fun and game was part of the annual Beefin’ up the Bulldogs steak dinner, sponsored by the Mississippi Cattleman’s Association, the Beef Council, First South Farm Credit, and the department of animal and dairy sciences. The entire team was treated to extra-large prime cuts, marinated for a day before grilling outside the Seal Complex.
Coach Dan Mullen even veered off his dietary regimen to indulges, after asking the crew if the steak—and potato salad, green beans, roll and salad—were still under 500 calories.
Mississippi State has finished the training camp portion of preseason, and Mullen has given the team one light practice day and a walk-through day following last Thursday’s scrimmage. No Bulldogs were seen on crutches or noticeably limping after the first game-type session of August, and Mullen said Saturday the team came out with no injuries.