Spring practice in Starkville began last week and Nick Tiano went through the practice paces with the same frequency as the returning veterans. Tiano had the chance last fall to grow familiar with the offensive system and what it means to be a student athlete in the Southeastern Conference. A year later, Tiano is competing for the starting job,
"This year, I am taking more of an approach to get myself ready to play," Tiano said. "Obviously, the four of us are competing. I am just trying to get better everyday and give myself a chance to compete with those guys."
While Tiano takes the field as the low man on the totem pole from a college experience standpoint, he has taken advantage of the chance to sit and learn from the quarterbacks who played before him. The Chattanooga, Tennessee standout reports that he is a quick study and open to learning from the guys around him who have taken snaps on the big stage.
Redshirt sophomore Nick Fitzgerald has helped Tiano adjust to life on the college level.
"Nick has been great since I have been here teaching me and helping me along the way," Tiano said. "I am just trying to learn as much as I can from these guys and get better everyday."
To prepare for the spring audition under the ever present eyes of Coaches Brian Johnson and Dan Mullen, the Bulldog signal callers have been working on their own accord.
"It's been great. We have been out here throwing everyday with everybody," Tiano explained. "You build chemistry the whole off season, so now we just have to come out here and put it together live on the field."
Following the first practice session of the spring, Tiano believed that the Bulldogs had a solid first day and have something to build on over the course of the next month.
"It was a good first day back, just (trying) to shake the rust off a little bit and get my confidence back," Tiano said. "We are all just trying to out there and get better every day and compete, be consistent and lead the team."
The first day back also marked the first time in five years that Mississippi State took to the practice field without #15 Dak Prescott as part of the process. Tiano admits that it will take some time to get used to a post Prescott world in Starkville.
"It's crazy, because last year I came out everyday and I looked for Dak to see what Dak was doing," Tiano said with a smile. "Where is he? What am I supposed to be doing?
"Now, we just have to take that among ourselves and create our own path."
Tiano was rated the top quarterback prospect in the state of Tennessee when he graduated from Baylor High in Chattanooga in 2014. The talented freshman will battle it out with Junior Damian Williams and a pair of redshirt sophomores, Nick Fitzgerald and Elijah Staley, this spring and fall in the quest to win the starting job and be the trigger man in Dan Mullen's offense.