Spending some time on the sidelines provided Gabriel Myles a new perspective. To say the personable wide out gained a new appreciation for his health and the game he loves would be putting it mildly.
"I missed three games last year and it hurt," Myles said. "It's not the fact that you're not playing in games. Those are our brothers and we want to be out there with them. Practice is hard and you want to be able to go through it with your guys.
"My main goal is to keep those guys encouraged and to stay healthy. We will work on that together as a group."
With Myles back in good health this spring, the Bulldogs were without the talents of Donald Gray and Fred Ross. Their absence from the active roster provided more repetitions for the up and comers who are looking to make an impact on the field this fall.
"That just showed how hard these guys work," Myles said of the underclassmen. "They understand the workload. Now it's more, this may happen in a game. Somebody may get hurt, so they will have to step up and make plays in a game. I still sort of count myself as a young guy now that I am playing on the outside. It has changed my perspective of it.
"As the young guys they come together, they understand that we are going to be without some people at some point. They will be ready to step up and make plays."
Myles cut his college teeth as a slot receiver, but will now look to line up out wide in an effort to use his speed to stretch the field vertically. The change in location also brings some new assignments.
"It's been good," Myles said of the move. "I'll tell you one thing, the blocking is not near as hard. I don't have to block linebackers anymore. It's always a one-on-one battle every single time. The corner is going to press you. I think it's a challenge every time you come out there. My mindset is win this down. It's a new battle every day and every down."
The Bulldogs brought in some prototypical "X" wide receiver types in the 2016 signing class with Jamal Couch, Osirus Mitchell and Reggie Todd all measuring in at 6-4 or taller. While those Bullpups learn the college game, Myles and fellow junior Gray will handle the heavy lifting outside for now.
"I think we're going to bring aggressiveness," Myles shared. "That is one of the main things I have been working on, being more aggressive to the ball. I guess it's about trusting yourself and we play with speed. We are going to be able to play fast on the outside and not get touched coming off the line."
While the Bulldogs lost some production with the departures of Joe Morrow and De'Runnya Wilson. Myles believes some talented redshirt freshmen can serve as quality reinforcements this fall as the Bulldog offense breaks in a new starting quarterback.
"We have a real competitive receiver room," Myles said. "Everything we do in there is like okay let's see who gets it right or how long it takes you to get it right. It's a lot of competition and we take a lot from each other. We learn routes from each other and all of that kind of stuff.
"I think it's good for the younger guys to see how we work. For those guys who haven't been in games yet are learning that this intensity is on another level. We are already kind of doubted, so we have to go out and show people what we have."
With some new pieces on offense, the Bulldogs are expected to have a bit of an adjustment period. Myles expects his squad to put a quality product on the field early and improve each and every week as they look to play their best football when it matters most in November.
"I want to say that it's going to be a constant increase," Myles said. "We don't want to peak too early and not have anymore upside. I am just going to let God take care of that. As receivers, we want to be perfect the whole season, so we don't want any drop off."
Myles was initially recruited as an athlete out of Starkville High and took his first college snaps in practice as a defensive back. Before making his college debut as a redshirt freshmen, Myles found a home at wideout. Having thrown to receivers and lined up across from them on defense, Myles has a solid understanding of what is expected from the wide receiver position.
"You have to be ready to adjust to different things," Myles said. "Having played some at quarterback and a little defense and a little wide receiver, you have to be ready to adjust and always be ready to go out and compete. That's the main thing.
"It's sort of like Ryan Brown said, is versatility would be his success. I am just trying to take that and learn multiple positions and new techniques. Fans can expect a more aggressive Gabe Myles and a more free Gabe Myles. There will be less thinking and it's just time to play ball now."