Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Mississippi State redshirt freshman QB Nick Tiano has stepped his game up

Mississippi State redshirt freshman quarterback Nick Tiano used redshirt season to step his game up.

"I knew I was going to redshirt when I came in," said Tiano. "Luckily, we had Dak (Prescott) to learn from. What I did was watch and learn. Since I was playing scout team, I didn't get many reps during the season with our offense so I watched and learned. I also tried to get stronger and faster and study as much as I could. But I needed that redshirt. I think just about everybody does because when you come to college there is a huge adjustment."

Not only did he watch and learn but he also transformed his body into an SEC type body.

"I came in at something like 230 to 235 pounds, but I was 17% body fat," said Tiano. "By the end of the summer I had dropped down to about 11% body fat. And I have stayed around 10 to 11% since then. I have also gotten so much stronger. I can't believe how much stronger that I got just during the season."

He realized very quickly that he needed to be much stronger than he was in high school.

"Being stronger on this level is huge," said Tiano. "In high school I could just lower my shoulder into someone and it was nothing to me. But you get out here and try to rough up the defensive guys, they aren't moving. So, I needed to get stronger."

He was a physical player in high school and he wants to continue that on the collegiate level.

"I like being a physical player," said Tiano. "I feel like that is one of the things that I bring to the table. I love the idea of third and short or fourth and short. I think one of my assets as a player is getting the tough, physical yards. I am probably not fast enough to take it 60 yards down the sideline. But I like to think I can run physically and gain yards when I need to."

He saw last season the importance of having a tough, physical player at quarterback.

"Everybody in the stadium knew when it was short yardage that Dak was running the ball," said Tiano. "And it seemed like he got it almost every time. And I want to be that same kind of guy. I want to have that same kind of mindset of I am getting that yard or three yards. I am lowering my head and doing whatever I have to do to get those yards."

He also wants to develop the intangibles that Prescott has.

"Just watching Dak here (at Mississippi State) and with the Dallas Cowboys the other night, he is just so calm and composed," said Tiano. "He is prepared to play, takes command out on the field and plays with confidence. And that is what I am trying to work on."

He will see how his hard work has paid off when Mississippi State plays South Alabama, September 3rd.

"I am super excited about the season," said Tiano, who is in a three-man battle with junior Damian Williams and sophomore Nick Fitzgerald for the starting job. "This is what you practice for, the game. Our coaches always tell us that the practices should be harder than the game. You should be so prepared by game week that when you step out there on Saturday it should be like slow motion to you."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network.

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