Steve Robertson -

Position Observations from First Open Spring Session

Mississippi State held the third practice of this spring session Tuesday. The Bulldogs were able to go outdoors as weather stopped in time. And, in full pads for the first time this training camp.

Media were allowed to observe the first eight periods, all unit drills with no full-team alignments.


*Sitting out today’s session in rehab were OLs Deion Calhoun and Elgton Jenkins; RB Alec Murphy; WR Jesse Jackson; and briefly CB Tolando Cleveland. Later Cleveland joined his unit for drills with no apparent problems.


*The offensive line was obviously short a few members, forcing first-team tackle Martinas Rankin to play at center this spring for one. As they lined up today the positions were, and the order is far from defined:

Right tackles Stewart Reese, Ronald Cochran, Evans Wilkerson.

Right guards Tommy Champion, Darryl Williams, Jawon Johnson;

Centers Martinas Rankin, Harrison Moon, Blake Mitchell;

Left guards Michael Story, Dareuan Parker, Brett Armour;

Left tackles Greg Eiland, Tyre Phillips.


*Slot receivers Malik Dear and Keith Mixon didn’t begin the day with their usual group. Instead they were doing drills with the running backs and taking turns like everyone else. After a period of hand-off drills though they left for their full-time jobs with the wideouts.

This made the receiver rotation by threesomes: slot Dear beside Gabe Myles with Donald Gray to the tight end side;

Mixon, Deddrick Thomas, and Jamal Couch;

Travis O’Conner, Murphy, and either Osirus Mitchell or Austin Williams.


*The regular running backs order was as to be expected: Aeris Williams, Dontavian Lee, Nick Gibson, and Bennie Braswell.


*New defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has made clear that A) nobody has a sure job and B) there is no depth chart at any position. Or not yet. It’s only the need to have players taking turns that anyone goes in any order.

That understood, then, the cornerbacks worked in general pairings of: Jamal Peters and first Jamoral Graham and later Tolando Cleveland; Graham began with Lashard Durr. After that, it was Cameron Dantzler and Chris Stamps; Chris Rayford and Korey Charles or Tyler Williams.


*The safeties squad had a new face if familiar Dog. Outside linebacker J.T. Gray is now operating as a hybrid sort of strong safety. Or drop linebacker. Or whatever anyone wants to label it.

The safeties roster was Mark McLaurin, Brandon Bryant, Brian Cole, C.J. Morgan, Jacquarius Landrews, Jonathan Abram, and Hayes Walker.


*There were two features to drills in-common with previous coordinators. There was the same sort of tackling-coaching cycle where linebackers and defensive backs took turns with all position coaches for technique tips. Defensive linemen, they stayed to themselves.


*The other? They might not use the same title but the viper position seems alive and well. And Grantham was working with them himself. His trio of outside linebacker/defensive end types were Gerri Green, Marquiss Spencer, and impressive juco Montez Sweat who nobody seemed able to block in pass rush drills.


*As for middle and outside linebackers, again there’s no clear definition to which is which. So just to list the full grouping: Leo Lewis, Dez Harris, Tim Washington, Erroll Thompson, Traver Jung, Josiah Phillips, Chris Redmon, Cameron Miller.


*Looking for defensive line depth? That has to wait for another day and maybe even the first scrimmage, on March 25.

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