Staley, a third-year sophomore and the third quarterback used in 2015, has been granted a release by Mississippi State. He intends to transfer to an un-announced program.
“We would like to thank Elijah for his contributions to our football team,” Coach Dan Mullen said in an official statement released by media relations. “During his time here he has always been a hard worker and a great teammate. We wish him nothing but the best as pursues another opportunity.”
Staley, signed in 2014 out of Marietta, Ga., played in two games as a second-year freshman last fall. He was 3-of-5 passing and threw a touchdown pass against Northwestern State. He rushed three times for 18 yards in those two games.
Recruited as a project based on sheer athletic ability, Staley came to college shorter on football experience than most quarterbacks. He was allowed to dress out for the basketball team in the spring of his freshman year, but was hampered by a groin injury which also limited his 2015 practice time. Though even when unable to practice quarterback, Staley got to show-off his greatest gift. He would throw ‘punts’ for punt return drills with as much or more distance than most of the kickers could manage.
However lack of football background and 100% focus on his scholarship sport also cost Staley some development time. He went into spring 2016 nominally even with classmate Fitzgerald on the depth chart. By the time camp ended he was battling just to stay ahead of rookie Tiano. Staley did not participate in Thursday’s scrimmage.
Staley’s departure, on good terms, eases demands on Mullen and quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson to split snaps in practices now with just over a week left in training camp and preseason installation.
State opens the season September 3 hosting South Alabama in a 11:00am kickoff at Scott Field.