With the Dak Prescott era over, Dan Mullen must select another signal caller to be QB1 on his depth chart.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Nick Fitzgerald appeared in eight games last fall. The Richmond Hill, Georgia product completed nearly 80% of his pass attempts, ran for 127 yards and accounted for six Bulldog scores. Many fans expect the former option quarterback to be the heir apparent to record setting signal caller Dak Prescott. As spring practice began last week, Fitzgerald explained that the competition for the top spot is wide open and he knows it.

"I think it's going to be more of a competition evenly going in (for) all four of us," Fitzgerald explained. "I think today we all did our thing. We were out there on the first day back just getting into the groove of things. 

"Without Dak, obviously it's a little different. It's a big leadership role that went away that we're going to have to fill. It might not be just one person. It might be a lot of people that have to come together and step up to be a leader in this offense."

During the first day of spring practice, the Bulldog quarterbacks all had the same opportunity to impress both quarterback coach Brian Johnson and the top Dawg, Dan Mullen. While it is just one day, the early returns suggest an open competition. 

"We split every rep evenly," Fitzgerald explained. "Everyone went with the ones, everyone went with the twos and everyone went with the threes. We're all getting work with everybody on the team. that way you get chemistry with everybody on the team, I think."

Fitzgerald has the benefit of two previous full spring and bowl practice experiences. The talented sophomore has now been on campus and part of the Mississippi State football program for over two full years. Being able to run the full complement of the Dan Mullen offensive system certainly aids Fitzgerald's efforts in the race to be QB1.

Given the chance to talk more about himself, Fitzgerald chose to discuss the contributions of his teammates and their collective approach to the season.

"We have a lot of guys coming back," Fitzgerald said. "I got a lot of the reps when Dak wasn't in. I think we're going to be fine. (I) just have to step up. Mainly, I just want to work on myself and get my fundamentals going. I just want to get back to throwing and get back to working with the whole team.

"We do some stuff on our own and we do some stuff throwing with our receivers. It's just working on the chemistry with this new team and just working hard."

The Mullen offense appears to be at its' very best when it is directed by a signal caller who has the ability to hurt defenses with his feet as well as his arm. Coming from a run first offense, Fitzgerald has no aversion to calling his own number and chasing real estate. His two years in Starkville have rounded him into a more complete college quarterback.

"When I first got here, I was kind of a flight risk." Fitzgerald shared. "I was bailing out at any sign of pressure. Now I am a lot more comfortable just staying in there continuing to make my read and getting to my second and third progressions. I just want to get the ball down the field and into my play maker's hands."

Replacing a Bulldog legend will not be an easy task, but someone must call the pre-snap cadence. Fitzgerald has been through some of the fire and won the admiration and respect of the Bulldog fan base for his play against Troy when Prescott was not full go.

#15, Prescott, had full command of the offense, the team and the huddle. It will take some time to develop that same level of rapport, but Fitzgerald believes he knows which steps to take to earn the trust necessary to lead the team.

"I just need to go out everyday and be as consistent as I can be," Fitzgerald said. "I just need to try and be as good a leader as I can be and try to build that trust between everybody and myself and hopefully they back me up."

Fitzgerald and the rest of the gridiron Dogs are on spring break this week. The team will return to campus on Sunday and resume Spring practice on Tuesday March 22nd. 

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