Gonzales Expects Full Roster at Arkansas with Dear, Myles, Wilson Healthy

It’s been a while since Billy Gonzales had his whole receiver roster. Now it seems the Mississippi State coach will be working with a full Dog-deck Saturday at Arkansas.

Without directly saying so, following Tuesday’s practice Gonzales indicated De’Runnya Wilson is on track to play. Wilson was carted off Scott Field after lying on the Alabama sideline in the fourth quarter, having done something to his neck that required a post-game soft brace. Gonzales said Wilson has been participating in drills and is expected to be available.

Also, true freshman Malik Dear should be returning to action after being held out a couple of games. Dear’s unspecified injury occurred during practice prior to the Missouri trip. He dressed out for last week and participated in warm-ups, but was held out for the extra recovery time.


Last week Donald Gray had a spectacular play, then that end zone play. Does that sum up his year? “We just got done talking about that after practice today. We talked about it prior to practice. The mindframe for us was we were kind of like this (waves a hand up and down) last week in practice. We had a really good Thursday but I didn’t care for our earlier practices.”

“We talked to him about that today and said you kind of correlate; we had a couple of drops last week in practice, it kind of carried over. So there’s got to be a point where you practice and it’s got to end. We talked about having a great practice today, we came out and had a great practice.”

“But the biggest thing for him is to be consistent. No different than anybody else. Are there going to be some tough catches, yeah. Our goal is to make the easy catches but our job as a unit is kind of elevated, we expect to make the tough catch. We expect to be able to go up and make the big-time catch. That was a tough throw, there was a linebacker that was dropping right in front of him. But at the same time we expect to come down with that one.”


What kind of attitude have you seen from Gabe Myles the last couple of weeks? “Awesome. Gabe is one of the most pleasant young men to ever be around. He’s got a great attitude, he’s always going to give you a smile. He might be down but he’s going to smile while he’s telling you he’s down!”

“He’s coming back and the last couple of weeks he hasn’t been full speed. But I’d probably say he’s pretty close to 100% right now. He kind of was gimpy a little bit last week but he had a good day on Sunday and a great day today. So he’ll be fine.”


How much difference does he make? “He does. If you take a look at what he did for us last year, just being able to throw that little quick screen to, he added a lot of yards for us last year. I was looking at the statistics, when you’re hurt and you have a chance to come back, the first couple of games coming you’re not 100%. So you’re not making that major impact like you had in the past. It kind of goes on your psyche a little bit, I want to make the plays but I can’t, I’m not going full speed.”

“The trust is there. But for him to be healthy is great, from 0-to-10 he’s got an incredible burst. So he adds that explosion off the ball. We definitely need him back healthy.”


With the tight ends emerging, does that open anything up for the wide receivers? “I just think they’re doing a good job transitioning, to be honest with you. Those tight ends have come along. Gus (Walley) was banged-up earlier with his hand, Hutch (Darrion Hutcherson) was still getting his feet wet after a year kind of learning everything and going full speed, learning to play fast. And Justin Johnson was true freshman.”

“So this late in the season they should be making plays. Honestly we’ve all got to make plays. We should be peaking at the end of the season right now, we should be getting to the next two games and the one after that, that’s where you want to peak. We want to finish on a climb. So we want to be peaking throughout the season.”

“But definitely, whenever you can get the big body guys involved in the offense and they’re making plays downfield, what it does is alleviate things for Dak (Prescott). Dak has confidence in them and trusts them. At the same time for us, whether zone or man to man ultimately we’ve got to win. We’ve got to get open. So that’s going to be on us no matter wat.”


How much has your group missed Malik Dear the last couple of weeks? “He’s another guy that you want to get back. Because he can do different things for you. You can line him up, you can hit motion. Against A&M we hit motion in the backfield and he had a long touchdown run. Those are the different things he does.”

“He and Gabe, they give you unique features and bring something different to the table. Gabe’s explosive and has that first step. While Malik is deceptive. Malik is fast but Malik’s got power. He’s got that running back type with him. So to get him back, move him around…he’s been anxious to get out there. He wanted to get out there last week, he suited up for the game, went through drills with us pre-game. The last couple of days he’s been pretty darned good, he had a good practice today. So he’s a welcome addition back to give us that depth.”


What makes Dear better for those end-arounds than maybe Ross or Wilson? “I think he’s a guy that played running back. When you have that feels for guys coming back in the backfield, just doing all that…”

“It’s amazing when you start talking about doing read-options or zone-reads and getting the feel for the quarterback, of getting that quarterback sliding that ball in there and at the last minute riding it, riding it, and pulling it out. Or else last minute letting you have it. It takes time. No different than running a route or a quarterback throwing the ball, it takes time over and over and over and reps. He had a bunch of reps coming out of high school because he played multiple positions. But at the same time he’s a guy that’s done that consistently for us in camp. So it’s good to get him back.”


How has De’Runnya Wilson progressed this week? “First and foremost, great that he’s safe. And he’s got a great attitude. I think he was here before the training room opened up yesterday. So he’s been very aggressive in the treatment part of just getting healthy.”

“He’s going through drills with us and when he’s not in he’s standing right next to me looking at the signals, relaying things to the receivers, talking to the young guys and going. The biggest thing with him is he’ll be ready to rock and roll, but just to have the mindframe that I’m good, I’m great, I’m ready to go make the play. With a young kid that’s the biggest thing, you get scared when something happens and there’s injuries. You get them treated and move forward but the biggest thing is always ‘I am good, I’m ready to go’.”


Is Dear a guy that could line up at running back some? “I tell you what, I love what he’s doing for us right now. I mean, he’s got incredible hands. He’s a very gifted athlete. He’s got really, really strong hands, very soft hands. The biggest thing he needed when he first got here was learn how to go, put it full throttle and go. And that’s any high school freshman coming into a program.”

“Coach Mullen, we take great pride in his program that you’d better be ready to go. And you’d better be able to give great effort or else you’re not going to see the field. As talented as you are doesn’t matter, you’d better give great effort. He learned that, that was probably the first thing he had to learn more than anything else. But he’s very talented. Before he got hurt he was a guy I trust to return punts, he’s back there starting on kick return. To put a freshman in those situations where they’re handling the ball and have 105 guys and a coaching staff depending on you to make those plays? That tells you a little bit about that player as far as the trust factor you have.”


How much do you try to avoid putting Dear in a box? “I think everybody asks that question! Is he a running back? He’s an athlete. I think that’s what we recruited him as. We told him when come here you’re going to do multiple things for us. That was one of the things that got him fired-up on us and felt at home.”

“And that’s what we’re doing. We’re utilizing his ability to do different things. He does bring a lot of different things to the table and he’s unique in that way. So we’re excited that he’s getting healthy and he’s going to be back ready for the weekend.”

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