Mississippi State held the annual campus Pro Day, with 14 members of the 2016 football team and five more former Bulldogs participating to varying degrees. The latter included a pair of running backs with NFL resumes already in Anthony Dixon and Josh Robinson.
Even more Bulldog alumni were watching from the sidelines and cheering their old teammates on in drills. Moving around among them all like a proud papa was Coach Dan Mullen. He spoke afterwards of what this event has come to mean at Mississippi State.
Mullen also briefly commented on the resumed spring practice for the 2017 team with a look ahead at the first scrimmage day.
How much did you enjoy watching today? “You know what, it’s fun. I thought they did a really good job in what we got to see. And it’s always a lot of fun.”
“Every young kid has a dream of growing up and the opportunity to go play in the NFL. These are guys that have worked hard throughout their career, worked hard and played hard for Mississippi State and been successful on the field. And here’s another day for them to come out and show their skills and have the opportunity to go live their dream.”
Is it as fun for you as these guys to have the former players like Dillon Day and Gabe Jackson back? “I love seeing those guys come back. I think that’s a special deal, seeing all these guys come back, supporting their teammates. And just having them around.”
“I love those guys coming around. It shows what their belief in the program is and the University and the football family we have, that they come and support everybody.”
This seems to get bigger each year with more guys competing; then guys going off and having success in the NFL. How much pride do you take? “Well, a lot. And I think it’s the older guys that come back, and the young guys talking to the guys who are going to the League. That there’s a certain expectation you have to carry when you represent our program and you get there.”
“I think that’s helped open the doors for a lot of other guys. When the NFL teams come up and say we know if we get a guy from Mississippi State they are going to work their tail off every single day for us. That is something to me that is really special. That we have that reputation and it’s now a responsibility for other guys to carry on.”
How did the team respond to the week off of spring break coming back to practice? “They were good. They were good. They worked it a little bit. So it was a good day yesterday. Always a little bit rusty.”
“We didn’t install yesterday so we’ve got a big installation moving forward. So we’ll see how they continue to pick it all up.”
Malik (Dear) was in a brace today, do you have any update on his condition? “No, I’ll talk about injuries after spring. We’ll update them after spring.”
What are you looking for Saturday in the first scrimmage? “Guys have the opportunity to go make some plays. I mean it’s kind of the end of installation. What we’ll do at the end of installation is now you get to go play and try to implement the installation.”
“So, we’ll see. I’m expecting a lot of guys to be at a lot of different levels of where they’re at. But just see how they perform when we get in the stadium.”
Before the break you mentioned the importance of Keytaon Thompson using that week to keep moving forward? “I didn’t see him take a step back yesterday. It was one day. We took all four days (installation) and threw it into one. So there was a lot on him. But I thought he did solve it.”
Fred Ross said he was glad to have the combine behind him and in football-specific things. Is that where he is going to flourish? “I do. I thought he ran a good time at the combine, posted some good numbers. He’s a football player. He has the opportunity like he did here for us, he played all three different positions. So he’s got the flexibility to do a lot of different things at the next level. And when you have small (NFL) rosters that’s a pretty valuable trait.”