[Premium article] Premium football skuttle-butt section. Updated 08/18/03.
August 2003 Unofficial Premium MSU Football Skuttle-Butt
08/18/03 - Post-scrimmage interviews.
It looks like you may have found yourself a go-to guy with Antonio Hargro.
"Antonio has been working hard. With Justin Jenkins out, Antonio has his position and is stepping up. When you have someone go down, you have to have somebody step up. Antonio has taken up the slack."
When did you first notice that Antonio was stepping it up. Was it noticeable during the summer?
"I think he has just grown up a little bit; matured a lot over this past year. He has come out here and he has been running hard and catching the ball really well."
Antonio caught 2 TDs in both scrimmages. He explained the difference in his play this preseason practice.
What has made the difference in you this camp?
"Dedication, staying focus and being consistent. I hear the coaches telling us that all the time. They run it through your head so much until it finally sinks in. It goes in one ear and stays."
Was there a certain point where you found that dedication?
"The spring was one part. That was very hectic because the new staff wanted to see what everybody had. The summer was another big factor. People came out and worked really hard; ran, worked out, lifted weights every morning. That was all positive."
Why did it take you so long to get to this point?
"Time wasn't taken out with me. I felt like time wasn't seriously spent with me. A lot of rules were changed and bent the past couple of years. I feel like with this new staff coming in, you might as well give it your all."
You got a fresh start this year because you have a coach that doesn't have any preconceptions or prejudices.
"My last coach didn't have any prejudices. We just had a lot of young cats who wanted a chance to get out on the field."
How had your new coach, Guy Holliday, affected your play this year?
"He affected my play by being straight up with me. People are not just coming in here to see you but to see the team. It is more of a team thing about it now."
He seems to be tougher on the receivers than the previous wide receiver coach. Has that helped you?
"I've always had a tough role model in my life to encourage me and get at me. There's nothing new to it. I'm already used to it."
Defensive back Curley Hallman talked about Saturday's scrimmage and how his players are doing.
Has Quinton Culberson moved ahead of Bernard Vinson at cornerback?
"Yes. It is hard to be number one if you can't practice. (Vinson has not been able to practice for about a week.)"
How are you depth-wise at the various DB positions?
"We are alright at free safety with Darren Williams and Gabe Wallace and the young guy behind them, David Heard.
"We are fine at the rover position with Kevin Dockery. Pee Wee (Slovakia Griffith) has really had a good camp the last week. We are super pleased with him. We have the young freshman J. J. Johnson (Jeramie Johnson) who has been doing well, but he is a freshman.
"With (Odell) Bradley and (Eric) Fuller and the young pup (Adrian) Griffin at the other corner we are fine. Odell has a little bit of a hamstring pull.
"Before the scrimmage, we felt a lot better, but with all the injuries, we have a situation that is going to take a lot of looking at. We play in two weeks and we don't know how bad Pee Wee is. We don't know how bad Culberson is. And Vinson has had that groin pull for an entire week. We've got some work to do.
"Are we two-deep? No."
If they were all healthy, would you consider your DB positions solidly two-deep?
"(If they were healthy) and progressed the way they have so far, I feel good that we would be two-deep."
Even though some of them are freshmen, you feel good about them?
"We feel good about Griffin. We feel good about Johnson even though we might have to limit what he can do. Fuller, the jc player who had done well, hit a peak point where he didn't improve very much, probably because his legs got heavy from not being used to this pace. He looked a lot better yesterday, so that means his legs are coming back."
Coach Sherrill's discussion of Saturday's football scrimmage.
"There were a lot of good things. Probably the best thing was the field goal kickers, especially one (Brent Smith). Our punters didn't punt very well. I thought offensively we had some guys that caught the ball well. Antonio (Hargro) is getting better everyday. Up until two or three days ago, he had caught everything that was thrown to him. Kevin (Fant) did a good job of controlling (the offense) and throwing the football. We have a lot of work to do with our offensive line. We have some guys missing (Brad Weathers and Johnny Wadley) that certainly have effected us. Defensively, we didn't scrimmage the first group very much (3 series). We have 11 that I know that we can play. And I think we have 22 that we can play. We wanted to have 22 offensively. We can do that everywhere except for the offensive line. We probably won't be able to do that for a while."
Do you think the lights have finally come on for Hargro?
"Somebody flipped it. He's always had great athletic ability. Once he starts running there is not going to be anybody who can catch him unless they have olympic sprinter's speed."
Were you pleased with the running game?
"I'll have to look at the film, but our runners ran well. We just didn't come off the ball and control people upfront like you would like. That is because we have so many mismatches as far as people not working with each other."
Kevin Fant played on the first-team. Is he now the first-team quarterback?
"Both of them (Fant and York) are practicing with the first-team."
How many (first- and second-team) offensive linemen do you have that are healthy?
"We probably have six or seven. We have to get those three other guys healthy. The problem is the ones that are not here are all in the same position (guard). That really hurts."
Do you have any idea how soon you will have them all back?
"We won't know for a while."
Do you think you will have them back by the Oregon game?
"I can't tell you that. I mean I don't know."
08/17/03 - Saturday scrimmage news.During the scrimmage, the 1st unit offense exclusively faced the 3rd unit defense, scoring TDs 6 of the 9 series. Two series ended in punts and one ended in a missed FG. The 1st unit defense, facing the 2nd unit offense, was in for only 3 series, causing 2 punts and intercepting 1 pass. None of the series lasted more than 4 plays if you exclude the punts. The other 4 series of the scrimmage had the 2nd and 3rd units facing each other. 1 of the 4 ended in a TD with the other 3 ending in punts.
Senior QB Kevin Fant (6-8-0-113 2TD) was in for 5 series (3 TDs). Sophomore Kyle York (5-6-0-128 2 TD) was in for 3. All three ended in TDs. Both Fant and York played with the 1st unit. Redshirt freshman Aries Nelson (Nelson 2-9-1-24) participated in 8 series, 1 of which ended in a TD. He played the entire scrimmage with the 2nd unit offense except for one series with the 3rd unit.
The highlights of the day included the continued great play of junior wide receiver Antonio Hargro (5-148 2TD) and the kickers, especially senior Brent Smith (6-of-9 FG attempts: Good - 32, 42, 43, 47, 51, 62. Missed - 47, 58, 62. The 58-yarder hit the right upright.). MSU's other kickers, freshman Keith Andrews and senior John Michael Marlin, also kicked well, making 6-of-9 field goals. Their only misses were from 55, 57 and 57. The kicks were done at the end of the scrimmage with a rush and there was no wind to speak of.
Back to Hargro. His first TD, 81 yards, was thrown by Kyle York. This was against the third-team defense. Most of the yards came after the catch. Hargro just flat-out outran everybody to the endzone. His second one, also against the third-team defense, was 19 yards long and was on third down. He was playing on the first-team offense both times.
Redshirt freshman TE Blake Pettit started the first series of the scrimmage with the first-team offense. That doesn't mean he is the first-team guy, but it sure looks like he is making a bid for some significant playing time.
The one scary moment during the scrimmage was when freshman cornerback Quinton Culberson went down after a tackle and grabbed his knee. The scrimmage was stopped while the trainer worked with him. He eventually got up and walked off with no limp.
It appears that center Blake Jones and left tackle Richard Burch have won the first-team positions based on the number of snaps they got with the first unit. However, it looks like their backups, Chris McNeil and James Redmond, are in for a lot of playing times as well. Two offensive linemen who didn't play in the scrimmage were Johnny Wadley and Brad Weathers.
There were 7 penalties committed for a total of 52 yards. 5 of the penalties were on the offense.
The punting was very poor during the scrimmage. In fact, a couple of balls were badly shanked. One of them almost hit me as I was preparing to take a picture of punt returner Tyler Threadgill.
There is no practice Sunday, the first off-day during the past two weeks.
Bivines 56 pass from Fant (Smith kick)
Norwood 80 run (Smith kick)
Hargro 64 pass from York (Smith kick)
Turner 5 run (Smith kick)
Turner 71 punt return (no PAT attempt)
B.Davis 4 pass from York (Smith kick)
B.Smith 32 FG
B.Smith 42 FG
B.Smith 43 FG
B.Smith 47 FG
B.Smith 51 FG
B.Smith 62 FG
Hargro 19 pass from Fant (no PAT attempt)
Jude 5 run (no PAT attempt)
Andrews 37 FG
Andrews 37 FG
Andrews 42 FG
Marlin 47 FG
Marlin 52 FG
Marlin 55 FG
RUSHING - Norwood 3-81 TD, Reid 7-35, Jude 12-33 TD, Turner 7-21 TD, Nelson 3-(-4), Team 3-(-4), Milons 1-(-4), York 1-(-7), Fant 3-(-13).
PASSING - York 5-6-0-128 2 TD, Fant 6-8-0-113 2TD, Nelson 2-9-1-24, Bivines 1-1-0-37.
RECEIVING - Hargro 5-148 2TD, Bivines 2-63 TD, B.Davis 2-14 TD, Scott 1-37, Prosser 1-17, Turner 1-10, Freeman 1-7, D.Jones 1-6.
PUNTING - Cook 1-55.0, Wallis 2-37.0, Addison 3-29.7.
PUNT RETURNS - Turner 1-71 TD, Threadgill 2-9.0.
TACKLES - Johnson 4, Upton 4, D.Wright 4, Day 3, Griffin 3, Kelly 3, C.Clark 2, Culberson 2, D.Heard 2, M.Heard 2, Myers 2, Williams 2, Dockery 1, Hannibal 1, Horton 1, McDougal 1, Matthews 1, Nelson 1, Robinson 1, Tate 1.
SACKS - Kern 1-9, Evans 1-8, Horton 1-7, Stowers 1-7, Matthews 1-5.
TACKLES FOR LOSS - None.
INTERCEPTIONS - Bradley 1-4.
PASS BREAKUPS - Wallace 2.
FUMBLE RECOVERIES - Hannibal 1-2.
08/16/03 - Friday afternoon practice news.Yesterday's afternoon practice was probably the hottest practice yet with a temperature of 97 degrees and the humidity at 82.
Like the morning session, the players once again practiced in helmets and shoulder pads.
Players that didn't practice: OG Brad Weathers, OG Johnny Wadley, TE Lincoln Smith (no contact), OT James Redmond (no contact), WR Justin Jenkins (no contact), DB Bernard Vinson.
Defensive players who earned the coveted practice Black Jersey were CB Odell Bradley, SS Kevin Dockery, OLB Marvin Byrdsong, OLB Clarence McDougal, DE Jason Clark, DT Ronald Fields and DE Willie Evans. Coach Ron Cooper, who first initiated the Black Jersey honor last spring, told me back in April that a player can only earn the right to wear a Black Jersey in practice if he is "at the top of his game."
Not sure if it is permanent or due to all the injuries on the offensive line, but DT Markell McKinley worked with the offensive linemen yesterday afternoon. He even went through the inside drills as an offensive lineman. He participated in two plays, losing one and easily winning the second one. OL coach Steve Campbell appeared to be very impressed with what he saw based on his reactions. In fact, after the second play, he had the other players give Markell a hand. Obviously that made Markell feel good because he came away with a smile on his face. BTW, one of the many things I like about Coach Campbell is he believes in positive reinforcement. As an example, quite often he has his players give a player a hand when he makes a really good play. It doesn't matter if it is during team drill, the inside drill or an individual drill. He is also very complimentary of a defensive lineman when he beats his man.
Speaking of the inside drill, players who had a good drill during the afternoon included OL Chris McNeil, Will Rogers, Richard Burch, David Stewart, Rusty Holloway, Blake Jones, David Stewart, James Cochran and DL Tommy Kelly, Ronald Fields, Michael Heard, Corey Clark, Curtis Stowers, Roosevelt Tate. DT Kamau Jackson got his first taste of inside work during the afternoon session. He split 50/50 against the guys he went head to head with. Several players didn't participate in this drill, including Willie Evans, Johnny Wadley, Brad Weathers and James Redmond.
08/15/03 - Friday morning practice news.Players who were returning kickoffs during practice were Nick Turner, Fred Reid, Ray Ray Bivines, Omarr Conner, Tyler Threadgill and Jerious Norwood.
Both middle linebackers, T. J. Mawhinney and Kenny Kern, are now practicing. Kenny has been practicing most of the week, while T. J.'s first day was today. Defensive tackle Andrew Powell was also back after missing a few days of practice.
Players who I noticed did not practice or were held out of some of the practice this morning were OG Johnny Wadley, OG Brad Weathers, OT Richard Burch, WR Antonio Hargro, OT James Redmond, WR Justin Jenkins, CB Bernard Vinson, TE Lincoln Smith and DE Willie Evans. There may have been others but these were the ones that I noticed. Due to a new federal law, injuries can't be mentioned by MSU. Until I receive a clarification from MSU as to how I should handle this, I will no longer list players as missing practice due to injuries but just post that they missed.
It's starting to look like the first and second unit players are close to being decided. Below is the 1st through 3rd defensive units and 1st and 2nd offensive units. Several players missed practice, so please take that into consideration when viewing these lists.
This morning's first-team defense consisted of DEs Willie Evans and Jason Clark, DTs Ronald Fields and Tommy Kelly, OLBs Clarence McDougal and Marvin Byrdsong, MLB T. J. Mawhinney, CBs Odell Bradley and Quinton Culberson, SS Kevin Dockery, FS Darren Williams.
Second-team defense: DEs Deljuan Robinson and Roosevelt Tate, DTs Lennie Day and Corey Clark, OLBs Chris Swain and Rico Bennett, MLB Kenny Kern, CBs Eric Fuller and Adrian Griffin, SS Slovakia Griffith, FS Gabe Wallace.
Third-team defense: DEs Robert Spivey and Michael Heard, DTs Avery Hannibal and Andrew Powell, OLBs Carlton Rice and Brett Morgan, MLB Brad Horton, CBs Eric Fuller, Joseph Cooper, SS Jeramie Johnson, FS David Heard. Cooper, who is a redshirt freshman walk-on from Fort Walton Beach, FL., is former MSU DS Ashley Cooper's younger brother.
First-team offense: QB Kyle York/Kevin Fant, TB Nick Turner/Jerious Norwood, FB Darnell Jones, WRs Ray Ray Bivines and McKinley Scott, TEs Aaron Lumpkin/Blake Pettit, OTs Donovan Davis and David Stewart, OGs Will Rogers and Otis Riddley, C Blake Jones/Chris McNeil. Several players from the first-team did not practice. See above.
Second-team offense: QB Kevin Fant, TB Jerious Norwood/Fred Reid, FB Nick Signaigo, WRs Brandon Wright, Tee Milons, Will Prosser, Omarr Conner and Tyler Threadgill, TEs Aaron Lumpkin/Blake Pettit/Stephen Arant, OTs Donovan Davis and Monte Collins, OGs David Price and Avery House, C Chris McNeil. Several players from the second-team did not practice. See above.
The practice, which saw the players practice in helmets and shoulder pads, was 15 periods long. There were no DB/WR and OL/DL inside drills this morning so there's no update for those drills. The team did go through a team drill for about 3 or 4 periods but this was done at about 3/4 speed and no tackling was allowed.
Coach Sherrill's comments after practice:
"We've made a lot of progress in a lot of areas. A lot of guys have made a lot of progress. I think we are very, very close to knowing who the players are. We just have to make sure that we get all of them healthy. We are starting to zero in on the game type conditions. We'll practice this afternoon and have a scrimmage tomorrow."
"This far into practice you are going to have bumps, bruises, and pulled muscles. You just have to keep on going."
Practiced in helmets and shoulder pads.
"Really, you have to be a better football player when you get in front of somebody instead of reaching ou and grabbing them. You have to play better technique."
Do you plan on doing anything differently during tomorrow's scrimmage than you did during the first one now that you basically know who will play where?
"We'll make sure we run the 25 second clock. We didn't do that the first scrimmage. We'll also do some things in the kicking game that we didn't do in the first scrimmage."
08/15/03 - Thursday afternoon practice news.Wide receivers that had a good day running routes and catching the ball in the WR/DB drill: Tee Milons, McKinley Scott, Damond Berry, Omarr Conner, Ray Ray Bivines and Will Prosser.
The WR/DB drill is normally a tough drill for the DBs because the pass routes seem to be mostly short routes. The main thing the DBs seem to be working on is technique and positioning.
The first-team offensive line was RT David Stewart, RG Otis Riddley, C Blake Jones/Chris McNeil, LG Will Rogers and LT Richard Burch. LT James Redmond, LG Brad Weathers and RG Johnny Wadley were held out of practice due to minor injuries. Due to the OL injuries, two freshmen linemen OT Donovan Davis and OG David Price have received a lot of reps and it shows in the inside drill.
In the OL/DL drill players that did well were OL David Stewart, Otis Riddley, Will Rogers, Richard Burch, David Price, Donovan Davis and DL Markell McKinley, Ronald Fields, Michael Heard, Curtis Stowers and Avery Hannibal. McKinley's play was especially good considering he faced first-teamers Chris McNeil and Otis Riddley. McKinley is showing very good quickness in the inside drill. Based on watching the inside drills, Stewart and Burch are the two guys that really stand out among the offensive linemen.
Someone emailed me asking how DL Tommy Kelly has done during the inside drill. He said he hasn't seen Kelly's name mentioned much. Kelly, who always goes up against the first-team OG, is about 50/50 during the one-on-one inside drill. However, when the linemen do the three offensive linemen against the two defensive linemen inside drill, he has a much better opportunity to show his great quickness off the ball.
Speaking of the inside linemen drill, the guys really went after it yesterday. Guys were literally knocking helmets off and driving guys to the ground. However, none of the guys ever let their emotions get the best of them. I guess you could call it controlled aggressiveness.
Quarterbacks Kevin Fant and Kyle York continue to battle for the starting QB job with both alternating with the first-team.
There seems to be good competition going on at the TE spot with both Aaron Lumpkin and Blake Pettit spending time with the first-team unit. Lincoln Smith continues to be sidelined with a minor injury.
Speaking of injuries, there doesn't seem to be any severe enough to knock anybody out of the Oregon game. It's just minor injuries that are the type that just keep guys from practicing.
08/14/03 - Wednesday morning and afternoon practice news.The big news of the day was the fact that senior defensive tackle Kamau Jackson was ruled eligible to play football this year by the NCAA. He will have to miss the first two games of the season before he will be able to play. Since he played in one game his first year at Co-Lin, his penalty is double that, which is 2 games.
After practicing in the Shira Fieldhouse during the morning session due to wet fields, the team practiced outside the second session of the day.
True freshman Quinton Culberson played on the 1st team defense during both sessions. He appears to now be leading for the cornerback job opposite senior Odell Bradley.
Junior WR Ty Freeman played some at outside linebacker. He also practiced with the wide receivers.
Several players didn't participate in practice: Johnny Wadley, Brad Weathers, Chris Swain, T. J. Mawhinney, Lincoln Smith, Jason Clark. All appeared to be injury related. None of the injuries appear to be serious since all of the guys were in attendance. One player, James Redmond, was injured during the afternoon session. It appeared he injured his shoulder. Although I'm not sure how serious it is, it doesn't appear to be too bad.
Due to the injuries to Weathers and Wadley, MSU's starting offensive guards were Otis Riddley and Will Rogers. OT James Redmond also played OG some during the morning session.
Players that had good days during the OL/DL inside drill included D-linemen Tommy Kelly, Markell McKinley, Michael Heard and O-linemen Richard Burch, Donovan Davis, David Stewart and Chris McNeil.
Redshirt freshman tight end Blake Pettit appears to be moving up the depth chart due to his play.
Coach Sherrill's comments on the reinstated Kamau Jackson:
Kamau Jackson is back.
"We are fortunate to have him back. He will add to the leadership and he will add to the maturity. It is good to have him out here."
How will you bring him along since he's missed all of practice up to now?
"It is the same thing (as the other players). He has to go through the same acclimation period. He has two days in head gear only. And then two days in shoulder pads. It will be Monday before he will be in full gear."
What is his exact situation?
"He will miss two games. At least they made a ruling that was helpful to the kid."
How did he find out that he was eligible? Did you tell him or was it someone else who did?
"(MSU Compliance Officer) Bracky (Brett) did."
08/13/03 - Tuesday afternoon practice news.After practicing in the rain for most of their one practice yesterday, Wednesday will see the team go back to a two-a-day practice.
Players that did not practice were offensive guards Brad Weathers and Johnny Wadley, defensive tackle Andrew Powell and middle linebacker T. J. Mawhinney. Middle linebacker Kenny Kern, who had been held out of practice due to a leg injury, was able to practice.
During the OL/DL inside drills, the following players had good days: OT David Stewart, OG Otis Riddley, OT Donovan Davis, OT Monte Collins, OL David Price, OT James Redmond, DT Ronald Fields, DT Lennie Day, DT Markell McKinley and DL Avery Hannibal. Freshman OL Davis and Price probably had their best inside drills to date. Both were slamming the DL to the ground.
Kevin Fant and Aries Nelson looked good with their accuracy during the team WR and DB drill. I don't remember seeing Kyle York pass the ball during this drill, although he was dressed out.
Senior wide receiver Milas Randle is in the process of transferring to another school. Juco defensive back Eric Fuller was wearing number 4, Milas' uniform number.
To get the offensive and defensive linemen in shape, both line coaches, John Blake and Steve Campbell, had the linemen run up the hill on the south side of the practice fields for about 15 minutes at the end of practice.
Jerious Norwood, Nick Turner and Fred Reid had good days running the ball.
Coach Jackie Sherrill's post-practice comments:
"We practiced well for a while, but we then started losing our concentration and didn't end up like we should have."
"I thought that we made a lot of progress in the (OL/DL) inside drill."
"The running backs will give us some definite help, because they can make a lot of people miss them."
"We are still trying to find the tight end that is an overall player. We may have one that can block or one that can catch, but we are trying to find that one who can do all of that."
Are you closer to finding that one tight end?
"We have some guys that are ok, but we don't have a Reggie Kelly or a Donald Lee."
If you don't find that one guy among the tight ends that you currently have, what will you do?
"We will move somebody there. The backup fullback can play there if we don't find a tight end."
The running game didn't perform that well during the scrimmage. Was that due to offensive line breakdown or good defense?
"The defense played well. There is no question that we are much better upfront, defensively, than we have been."
What were some other positive things you saw after watching the scrimmage film?
"We saw some young guys who made some plays, some really good catches. (Justin Jenkins) played very, very well. We also didn't have any mistakes, meaning we didn't have any off-side penalties or illegal procedure penalties. We went through the kicking game and there were a lot of positive things in the kicking game."
Would you say your team is ahead of last year's team after the first scrimmage?
"We are much further ahead because we have more depth and we have more talent."
Chris Lark commits...
Wide receiver Chris Lark (6-2, 190, 4.5) has committed to MSU. Chris is from Pickens County HS in Reform, Alabama. Chris chose MSU over scholarship offers from Alabama and UAB. He is MSU's second wide receiver commitment. The first was Dudley Guice (6-3, 205, 4.5) from Trinity Episcopal Day School in Natchez, Mississippi.
Click here to read the update from TheInsiders.
Gabriel O'Neal very impressed with MSU...
I talked to Columbus High School linebacker Gabriel O'Neal Monday night. MSU seems to have made strong inroads with him because when I recently interviewed him, he told me that he had Ole Miss and LSU as his top two. However, after attending MSU's camp a few weeks ago, his opinion of MSU has changed and he now has them high on his list. He said he had a great time at the camp and really likes the coaches and believes he would fit in well in MSU's defense.
08/12/03 - Monday afternoon scrimmage news.The three quarterbacks combined for 4 touchdowns and 1 field goal. During his 7 possessions, senior Kevin Fant led his team to 3 touchdowns, all by the air. Sophomore Kyle York was in for 5 possessions and led his team to 1 touchdown. Redshirt freshman Aries Nelson was in for 2 possessions and led his team to 1 field goal.
Playing with the 2nd and 3rd units during his two possessions, Nelson showed nice elusiveness when he had to run the ball.
Junior wide receiver Antonio Hargro had what I felt was the best scrimmage of his career, scoring two touchdowns, a 70 yarder and a 29 yarder. Freshman walk-on wide receiver Damond Berry, a 10.5 electronically timed speedster in the 100 meters in track, also had a 70 yard TD reception.
Freshman cornerback Quinton Culberson played on the first unit a time or two.
Fant and York alternated playing on the first-team offense.
Although the coaches haven't confirmed this, sophomore Richard Burch played on the first-team offense most of the scrimmage yesterday. Sophomore Chris McNeil and senior Blake Jones alternated playing on the first-team, although Jones seemed to get more snaps with the 1st team.
08/11/03 - Monday morning practice news.The team did their special teams scrimmage this morning. Below are a few observations after watching the scrimmage.
Fred Reid and Nick Turner were running number 1 on the kick return team. Other players on the first-team were Brett Morgan, Darren Williams, Gabe Wallace, Will Prosser, Chris Swain, Marvin Byrdsong, Tommy Ferrill, Darnell Jones and Willie Evans. Based on observations from the scrimmage, this lineup is subject to change per Coach Sherrill.
The second unit kick return team included Clarence McDougal, Carlton Rice, Ty Freeman, Joe Judge, Brad Horton, Aaron Lumpkin, Blake Pettit, Bryson Davis, Nick Signaigo, Ray Ray Bivines (deep man) and Jerious Norwood (deep man).
The first unit punting team consisted of Slovakia Griffith, Tommy Ferrill, Aaron Lumpkin, Russell Cook, Nick Signaigo, Jason Clark, Antonio Hargro, Chris Swain, Gabe Wallace, Aries Nelson and Jared Cook/Robert Wallace.
The number 1 punt rush/return team included David Heard, Kevin Dockery, Curtis Stowers, Gabe Wallace, Quinton Culberson, Chris Swain, Brett Morgan, Slovakia Griffith, Odell Bradley, Bernard Vinson and Nick Turner
The first unit kickoff team included Eric Fuller, Demetric Wright, Brett Morgan, Quinton Culberson, Jeramie Johnson, Robert Spivey, Chris Swain, Brad Horton, Gabe Wallace, Slovakia Griffith and the kicker.
Freshman walk-on Damond Berry impressed coach Curley Hallman, one of the special teams coaches, with his speed and aggressiveness.
08/11/03 - Sunday afternoon practice news.MSU has two scrimmages Monday, a special teams scrimmage and a regular scrimmage. I'll cover both.
As of now, it looks like the first-team kick returners are Ray Ray Bivines and Justin Jenkins. Also practicing at the kick returner positions were Jerious Norwood, Tyler Threadgill, Omarr Conner, Quinton Culberson, Jeramie Johnson, Nick Turner and Fred Reid. Culberson, Threadgill, Conner and Turner also are the punt returners.
Quarterbacks Omarr Conner and Tyler Threadgill have been temporarily moved to wide receiver for the fall. It appears the coaches really like their ability as wide receivers and believe that they can contribute this fall at that position. Conner will be moved back to quarterback during the spring. I also assume Threadgill will be moved back as well.
The first-team defensive line: Jason Clark, Ronald Fields, Tommy Kelly, Willie Evans.
The second-team defensive line: Robert Spivey, Lennie Day, Andrew Powell, Roosevelt Tate. Powell is a true freshman while Tate is a redshirt freshman.
The third-team defensive line: Michael Heard, Corey Clark, Devrick Hampton, Deljuan Robinson. All are true freshmen.
Only 3 of the 12 defensive linemen listed among the first three units are seniors.
First-team offensive line: RT David Stewart, RG Brad Weathers, C Blake Jones/Chris McNeil, LG Johnny Wadley, LT Richard Burch/James Redmond. Redmond is a redshirt freshman.
Second-team offensive line: RT Donovan Davis, RG Will Rogers, C Blake Jones/Chris McNeil, LG Otis Riddley, LT Richard Burch/James Redmond. Donovan Davis is a true freshman while Otis Riddley is a redshirt freshman.
Third-team offensive line: RT Monte Collins, RG Clayton McCain, C John Davis, LG Rusty Holloway, LT James Cochran. Collins and Cochran are redshirt freshmen, while John Davis is a true freshman.
Only 1 senior is listed among the three-deep on the offensive line.
Linemen that had good results during the OL/DL inside drill were OL Richard Burch (3 for 4), Donovan Davis (2 for 2), Avery House (2 for 2), Otis Riddley (2 for 2) and James Cochran (3 for 3) and DL Curtis Stowers (3 for 4), Roosevelt Tate (2 for 3), Corey Clark (2 for 2) and Markell McKinley (2 for 2). BTW, just because a player doesn't get listed doesn't mean he has played poorly. In a lot of cases the first-team OL has gone against the first-team DL. Quite often the players have split 50/50, hence neither one has won more than he has lost.
Something that I have noticed that has really impressed me is the hustle of the DL and OL after each inside drill play. I kid you not but it looks like both are trying to beat the other back to their side of the line at the conclusion of the play. I have a strong feeling that this goes back to the first day or two of preseason practice when OL Coach Steve Campbell continued to yell to his OL to beat the DL back to the line of scrimmage after each inside drill play.
During two passing drills, Kyle York was 9 for 11 passing, Kevin Fant was 7 for 10 and Aries Nelson was 4 for 6. All three QBs had 1 pass dropped. Like Saturday, none of the drops were by wide receivers. Footnote: I didn't watch all of the plays.
Players that had a good day catching the ball: Ray Ray Bivines (4 catches). Antonio Hargro, Justin Jenkins and Jerious Norwood (3 catches each). Several other players had 1 or 2 catches with no drops: Darnell Jones, Blake Pettit, McKinley Scott, Ty Freemen and Tee Milons.
Injury Report: Kenny Kern and T. J. Mawhinney continued to be hampered by minor leg injuries and did no practice. Brad Weathers missed inside and team drills due to a unidentified minor injury. Lincoln Smith sustained a minor injury to his leg. This injury report, none of which came from the MSU Athletic Department, is based on my personal observations.
08/10/03 - Saturday afternoon practice news.First and second-team linebackers senior T. J. Mawhinney and redshirt freshman Kenny Kern did not practice due to minor injuries. MSU no longer gives out injury reports, but I did see both wearing walking casts on their one of their legs.
During the OL/DL inside drills, players that I felt stood out were as follows:
Offensive linemen junior David Stewart (3 of 3), sophomore Richard Burch (2 of 2), redshirt freshman James Redmond (4 of 5), redshirt freshman James Cochran (3 of 3) and senior Blake Jones (3 of 3). Right now, the offensive lineman that appears to be the most dominating of the bunch is David Stewart. I don't remember seeing anyone beat him during the inside drill the last few practices. Richard Burch and James Redmond are slightly behind him. Burch and Redmond have a great battle going on for the starting left tackle position. James Cochran, who is now 6-5, 305, has been a guy that has surprised me. He really seems to be blocking well since he has added weight over the summer. It wouldn't surprise me if he starts moving up the depth chart due to his play.
Defensive linemen junior Ronald Fields (2 of 3), freshman Michael Heard (4 of 6) and freshman Avery Hannibal (3 of 3). Although he has only gone up against 2nd and 3rd team offensive linemen, Hannibal has showed great quickness coming off the ball. Michael Heard is another young lineman who has showed great quickness.
Of the quarterbacks, senior Kevin Fant looked the best in passing drills, going 9-for-12. Two of his passes were dropped. Redshirt freshman Aries Nelson also looked good, going 4-for-5. His one incompletion was dropped. Before you blame the wide receivers, most of the drops were by running backs or tight ends, players that rarely drop a pass.
Receivers that had a great afternoon practice were redshirt freshman tight end Blake Pettit (5 catches), junior wide receiver Ray Ray Bivines (4 catches) and senior wide receiver Justin Jenkins (3 catches). Pettit has impressed me a great deal with his great hands. He very, very rarely drops a ball and even catches them when well covered. In fact, 2 of his 5 catches I classified as great catches. A receiver I failed to mention during the morning session report was freshman walk-on Damond Berry. Damond, who was one of the top 15 high school track sprinters in the nation during his senior season, caught a couple of passes during the one-on-one passing drills.
08/09/03 - Saturday morning practice news:Redshirt freshman Russell Cook snapped for both the first-team extra points and field goals. The number one holder is junior Joey Judge.
Players competing for the punt returner position were Nick Turner, Tyler Threadgill, Quinton Culberson and Omarr Conner.
Players competing for the punt coverage gunner positions (the players running from the corners) were Odell Bradley, Kevin Dockery, Adrian Griffin, Bernard Vinson, Antonio Hargro, Demetric Wright, Slovakia Griffith and Eric Fuller.
The defensive ends had the better of it in the defensive ends/tight ends blocking drill.
Playing on the second-team defensive front four were junior Robert Spivey, senior Lennie Day, freshman Andrew Powell and redshirt freshman Roosevelt Tate. The third-team consisted of freshmen Deljuan Robinson, Devrick Hampton, Corey Clark and Michael Heard.
First and second-team middle linebackers T. J. Mawhinney and Kenny Kern missed practice due to minor injuries. That moved freshman MLB Brad Horton to first-team and junior Cody Upton to second-team.
In the wide receiver vs. defensive back drill, the wide receivers had a great day while I watched the drill. Players that performed well were senior Milas Randle, junior Ty Freeman, freshman Tyler Threadgill, freshman Omarr Conner, senior Justin Jenkins, junior Ray Ray Bivines and junior McKinley Scott. All had 2 to 3 catches. BTW, Omarr and Tyler are both practicing with the quarterbacks other than in the WR/DB drill.
In the inside drill between the offensive and defensive linemen, several players stood out while I was watching. Sophomore OL Richard Burch won 5 of 5, junior OL David Stewart was 3 for 3, sophomore OL Chris McNeil was 2 for 2, redshirt freshman DL Roosevelt Tate was 3 for 3, freshman DL Avery Hannibal was 3 for 4, freshman DL Deljuan Robinson was 2 for 2 and senior DL Tommy Kelly was 4 for 5.
Several players had good plays during the full team drill: Sophomore wide receiver Tee Milons, freshman defensive tackle Corey Clark, freshman defensive tackle Andrew Powell (several plays), redshirt freshman quarterback Aries Nelson, senior defensive tackle Tommy Kelly (several plays), sophomore offensive guard Johnny Wadley (several plays), freshman defensive end Michael Heard, redshirt freshman offensive guard Otis Riddley, freshman cornerback Quinton Culberson, junior offensive tackle David Stewart, sophomore tailback Jerious Norwood, senior cornerback Bernard Vinson. Please take into consideration that it is very, very difficult to watch all 22 players playing at once, therefore this list consists of players that just happen to stand out while I was watching the play in their area.
MSU has received their fourth commitment, wide receiver Dudley Guice, Jr. of Trinity Episcopal Day School in Natchez, Mississippi. Dudley, an excellent student, is 6-3, 205, runs a 4.5 forty and has a 36 to 37 inch vertical leap. He chose MSU over Auburn, Tulane and Ole Miss.
Other MSU commitments are offensive/defensive lineman Roland Terry (6-7, 260) of Lamar School, offensive lineman Brandon Nix (6-4, 268) of Coosa Valley Academy and safety Fred Akines (6-3, 195) of Clarksdale HS. All are solid or excellent students who will easily qualify.
08/09/03 - Practice news:The players worked out in full pads yesterday.
The team begins two-a-days today. After a single Sunday practice, they have their first scrimmage of the preseason Monday afternoon.
Redshirt freshman tight end Blake Pettit had his best day catching the ball, catching several passes during passing drills.
Although I didn't watch the entire passing drill, during the period I watched Kevin Fant, Kyle York and Aries Nelson started off well, completing 5 in a row before throwing an incompletion. Of the 21 passes I saw thrown, Fant completed 3 of 7, York 5 of 8 and Nelson completed 3 of 6.
Players that looked good catching the ball in the passing drill included Pettit (2 catches), Will Prosser (2 catches) and fullback Darnell Jones (1 catch).
During full team drills, tailbacks Jerious Norwood and Nick Turner broke off several big runs.
08/08/03 - Practice news:With starting defensive end Willie Evans out for practice, backup redshirt freshman Roosevelt Tate got to work with the first-team yesterday.
According to offensive linemen coach Steve Campbell, several offensive line positions are seeing great competition for the starting spot. The left tackle spot has sophomore Richard Burch and redshirt freshman James Redmond battling it out while the center spot has senior Blake Jones and sophomore Chris McNeil competing.
Two OL positions appear to be solidified, right tackle by junior David Stewart and left guard by Brad Weathers. Sophomore Johnny Wadley seems to be leading at right guard, although I wouldn't count out redshirt freshman Otis Riddley just yet.
Two freshmen, Andrew Powell and Deljuan Robinson, played on the second-team defense yesterday. Powell alternated with redshirt freshman Markell McKinley.
Freshman Quinton Culberson and juco transfer Eric Fuller continue to hold down the second-team cornerback spots.
Although they worked with the quarterbacks during individual drills, freshmen quarterbacks Tyler Threadgill and Omarr Conner worked with the wide receivers during the WR/DB drills. Both were really impressive with their pass routes and their ability to catch the ball. Before you ask, neither have been moved from the quarterback position. I have a feeling the coaches are just trying to find a spot to play them since neither will play at QB this season.
Other players who I feel did well during the WR/DB drill were freshman wide receiver Jason Husband, senior wide receiver Milas Randle, freshman cornerback Quinton Culberson, sophomore wide receiver Brandon Wright, junior wide receiver Ty Freeman, junior wide receiver Ray Ray Bivines and junior cornerback Slovakia Griffith.
The players that I felt performed well during the OL/DL inside drills included freshmen DL Mike Heard, Corey Clark, junior DL Ronald Fields, redshirt freshman OL Otis Riddley, sophomore OL Richard Burch, junior OL David Stewart, and redshirt freshman OL James Redmond.
In my opinion, during the team drill, the defense won 10 of the 18 plays. Although it was difficult to keep up with who was doing what, a few players that I noticed stood out were Darnell Jones, Nick Turner, Jerious Norwood, Andrew Powell, Corey Clark, Brad Weathers, junior OL Will Rogers, redshirt freshman tight end Blake Pettit, Jason Clark, T. J. Mawhinney and Clarence McDougal.
08/07/03 - Practice news:Yesterday's punt returners included sophomores Tee Milons and Nick Turner and true freshmen Quinton Culberson and Omarr Conner.
Wearing shoulder pads for the first time this week, the linemen were finally able to go head to head with each other. A few linemen that looked good included senior defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, freshman defensive tackles Andrew Powell, Devrick Hampton and Corey Clark, sophomore offensive guards Johnny Wadley and Otis Riddley. Powell has really impressed the coaches with his excellent strength and quickness.
Once again freshman cornerback Quinton Culberson had a very good day of practice. Another player that continues to stand out due to his hustle is freshman strong safety Jeramie Johnson.
COMMENTS AFTER TUESDAY'S PRACTICE. (Wednesday's comments are on the front page.-Gene)
Offensive Coordinator Morris Watts comments on Monday's practice.
"(Monday), we gave into the heat. We didn't quit playing, but we had the look on our face that I might not make it. Today, there was not a time where, especially the big guys, they didn't almost have a smile on their face. So our attitude was better and made it a better practice. If we continue to practice like that, we are going to get better."
Is your offensive line about where you want it to be?
"It is hard to tell. You don't really know much about a player whose key role is involved with blocking until he put the pads on. I don't question any of their toughness. I question which guys can get the job done. We just have to find the best combination of people that work together well and are going to be consistently good blockers."
You appear to be giving Kyle York and Kevin Fant most of the snaps in the team drills. How are you able to evaluate Aries Nelson?
"Aries is going ever third snap in pass scale, so we know how well he can throw the football. He is getting his run work done in the inside runs and other drills. He is vastly improved. I can see he is quicker. He lost some weight and worked on getting his quickness back that he had when he played in high school. As far as the freshmen, we brought them over here and let them have a special drill where they went against each other. That gave them some reps. Everyday we are going to try and find out if they can help us."
What are your impressions of freshman Omarr Conner?
"He can play. One of his strengths, which is what we thought it would be, is he has that special charisma that causes people to want to follow him and do what he does. He always has that smile on his face. He is what we thought we were getting."
Have you had a quarterback in the past that you could compare him to in regard to his leadership ability?
"Probably (former LSU quarterback) Herb Tyler, although he is bigger than Herb. Herb was 5-8. Herb had the same thing about him where everybody trusted that he was going to get the job done. He was always happy at practice and always was good about getting things done. He was a true freshman when he started for us the first year we were at LSU."
Talk about the running game.
"I'm pleased with how we are picking up assignments. The backs are picking good holes. But you can't really tell about your running game until you get some pads on because the guys on defense are just standing. All you really get out of what we are doing right now is guys are learning assignments, who to block, where to run the holes and quarterbacks checking the direction they want to go. You can't really tell if guys can block a guy that is moving, or slanting or looping out."
When do you think you will start cutting it down to where you have your first and second teams decided?
"Probably after this coming Sunday. We won't make any final decisions, but we will know more because we will have had four practices in pads by then. We will probably make our final decisions about a week and a half before the first game."
So you don't decide after the first scrimmage?
"No. We will decide who is there right now, but we aren't going to give up on a guy that we think, maybe, should be the starter but he just hasn't done it yet."
Sophomore tailback Nick Turner.
Talk a little about Coach Watts' offense.
"If you are a freshman and you are just coming in and you see his book, you would be like, 'man, it is kind of hard', but it is really a good offense, especially for a tailback. It allows you to not only run but catch. It is a good offense because it allows everybody to get open. At least two or three guys should be open on every play."
How much do you weigh?
"I weigh 189. I came in at 173 last year."
How much do you want to get up to?
"I want to get to 195 to 200. If I can get to 200 that would be good, but I don't want to get too big because it might start slowing me down."
Tight Ends Coach Terry Lewis.
How have your tight ends done the first few days of practice?
"We had 15 practices in the spring and we have been out here a couple of days, but there are a lot of nuances for the tight ends to master. As a coach, I have to do a better job, and as tight ends, they have to do a better job. I'm not disappointed where they are, but we have to do a better job of not making mistakes in alignments and also depth of routes and obviously be able to block. This is a tight end-friendly offense. If they grasp it all, they will be a big factor in the offense this fall."
How has individual tight ends done, so far?
"Aaron (Lumpkin) is doing ok. Lincoln (Smith) has been out of the game for a long time, so he has a lot to learn. Stephen Arant is working good as a Y. Blake Pettit appears to be as close to being ready to play as he was in the spring. Of the young guys, we haven't been able to give them much work. Hopefully, we will be able to give them some opportunities, so we can see what they can do."
Have there been any surprises from any of the veterans?
"The biggest surprise to me is Stephen Arant. We didn't have him in the spring. Being a former wide receiver, Stephen seems to be a guy who might possibly be able to do something for us provided he continues to pick up the offense like he has so far."
08/06/03 - Practice news:The practice fields appeared to be pretty soggy after a lot of rain the night before. It seemed to affect the receivers and running backs the most.
Just wanted to mention that new defensive coordinator Ron Cooper is a very, very vocal coach who is very hands-on. You always know who is in charge when he is on the field. He is a very tough coach who expects a lot from his players. The more I watch him, the more I like the guy as a coach.
I've been impressed with new wide receivers coach Guy Holiday after watching him in the spring and the past two days. He has extremely high expectations of his players and constantly vocalizes those expectations to them on the field. Yesterday, whenever a receiver didn't make a catch while under pressure from the secondary, he always made it a point to strongly vocalize to the receiver that he has to make plays like that. And you had better not talk back to him unless you are a fan of a lot of pushups.
I've got a new nickname for freshman cornerback Caleb Culberson, "The Intimidator". The guy is one very physical, very aggressive cornerback. For the first five yards, the defensive back can use his hands to try and prevent the receiver from advancing up the field. Caleb really does a great job of doing that. A couple of times he was so physical that the defensive players on the sidelines made very energetic comments about his play. If he has the speed to stay with the receivers that he goes against, he is going to be one very, very tough cornerback for receivers to deal with. If he winds up being moved, I can see him at strong safety or even the Drop Linebacker spot due to his size and aggressiveness. If he stays at cornerback, then the current starter ahead of him, senior Bernard Vinson, had better watch out.
Head men's basketball coach Rick Stansbury briefly attended practice yesterday. Could he have been there to keep an eye on MSU basketball player turned football player Lincoln Smith?
I also saw head cross country coach/assistant track coach Steve Dudley at practice. He was watching one of his signees, track sprinter and football walk-on Damon Barry. Barry, an outstanding sprinter and wide receiver who played his high school ball in Missouri, practiced for the first time yesterday after missing his getting in late Monday due to a flight problem.
After missing Monday's practice due to an injury, linebacker Kenny Kern was working with the second-team defensive yesterday. Freshman linebacker Brad Horton moved back to the third-team.
Freshman cornerback Adrian Griffin earned congrats from secondary coaches Curley Hallman and Ron Cooper after several good plays against the wide receivers.
Senior Blake Jones and sophomore Chris McNeil are in a tremendous battle for the starting center position. Both are alternating with the first-team. Sophomore Johnny Wadley appears to be performing well as the new first-team guard. It continues to look like three freshmen (true and redshirt), Donovan Davis (tackle), James Redmond (tackle) and Otis Riddley (guard), are going to be backing up the first-team offensive line.
Sophomore quarterback Kyle York continues to be the primary first-team quarterback, although Kevin also worked with the first-team. The other quarterback who is also receiving reps in the team drills was redshirt freshman Aries Nelson. Offensive coordinator/quarterback coach Morris Watts mentioned that he is impressed with Nelson's performance.
Sophomores Nick Turner and Jerious Norwood continue to compete for the starting tailback spot. Nick now weighs in at 189 pounds after reporting in at 173 last season. Nick said he hopes to get up to 195 and possibly 200, although he said 200 might be too large. He also told me that he has gotten faster, quicker and stronger. Jerious, who came in at 186 last year, now weighs 193. He had weighed as much as 197 this summer.
Junior fullback Darnell Jones seems to be solid as the first-team fullback with junior Nick Signaigo lining up with the second-team.
Redshirt freshman tight end Stephen Arant appears to have impressed tight ends coach Terry Lewis with his play. Another redshirt freshman, Blake Pettit, also appears to have impressed Coach Lewis.
Former MSU quarterback Bruce Threadgill attended practice, watching his son, freshman quarterback Tyler Threadgill, perform.
08/05/03 - Practice news:A couple of players, Kenny Kern and Demetric Wright, weren't able to participate in the complete practice due to minor injuries.
Although he couldn't participate in practice, senior defensive lineman Kamau Jackson watched part of practice in street clothes.
Freshman quarterback Omarr Conner practiced yesterday. According to a local newspaper, his ACT test is being investigated by Mississippi State due to his score increasing by 5 or more points. In the article, according to MSU's David Boles, this is a normal procedure. Based on what I'm hearing, Omarr will be fine.
After one day of practice, first-team defensive line: DE Willie Evans, DT Ronald Fields, DT Tommy Kelly, DE Jason Clark.
Second-team defensive line: (redshirt freshman) Roosevelt Tate, Markell McKinley, Lennie Day, Robert Spivey.
Third-team defensive line: (freshman) Deljuan Robinson, (freshman) Avery Hannibal, (freshman) Corey Clark, (freshman) Michael Heard.
Although I didn't see him playing on the first through third teams, freshman defensive lineman Devrick Hampton drew praise from DL coach John Blake during several drills.
Formally a defensive end, redshirt freshman Stephen Arant practiced with the tight ends.
Freshmen defensive backs Jeramie Johnson and Quinton Culberson as well as juco transfer Eric Fuller showed good ability and skills during practice.
After one day of practice, first-team secondary: CB Bernard Vinson, FS Darren Williams, SS Kevin Dockery, CB Odell Bradley.
Second-team secondary: CB (freshman) Caleb Culberson, FS Gabe Wallace, SS Chris Swain, CB Eric Fuller/(freshman) Adrian Griffin.
Third-team secondary: CB (freshman) Adrian Griffin/Demetric Wright (hurt), FS (freshman) Jeramie Johnson, SS David Heard, CB Slovakia Griffith.
After one day of practice, first-team linebackers: OLB Marvin Byrdsong, MLB T. J. Mawhinney, OLB Clarence McDougal.
Second-team linebackers: Cody Upton, (freshman) Brad Horton (Kenny Kern injured), Rico Bennett.
Third-team linebackers: Brett Morgan, No. 42 (a walk-on), (freshman) Carlton Rice.
After one day of practice, first-team offensive linemen: LT Richard Burch, LG Brad Weathers, C Blake Jones/Chris McNeil, RG Johnny Wadley, RT David Stewart.
Second-team offensive linemen: LT (redshirt freshman) James Redmond, LG (redshirt freshman) Otis Riddley, C Avery House, RG Will Rogers, RT (redshirt freshman) Monte Collins/(freshman) Donovan Davis.
Post-practice quotes from Coach Jackie Sherrill, Defensive Coordinator Ron Cooper and OL Coach Steve Campbell.
"I was impressed with the overall good shape of this group. It was hot and the humidity was up, but it was very evident that the conditioning was there. Even the young ones came in ready.
"If we can take this week and be smart with it, we'll get a lot accomplished. We need to get the young guys on tape and decide if they are going to help us at a position on the field. We already know that some will help us in the kicking game. By the end of the week we are going to be able to separate them. We will play the young ones who can mentally handle it."
"We'll spend a lot of time looking at tape, and we'll spend time off the field teaching. The NCAA limits the amount of time you can be on the field, but you can meet as much as you want to (during preseason).
"We really saw them get after it a little bit in scale. We didn't go much against the offense, but I was pretty pleased. The guys picked up on everything that we put in. We had one little glitch, but other than that, I was definitely pleased. We just have to keep getting them better."
Were you able to tell much about the freshmen after watching them in one practice?
"I just looked at them. I know we have talent. I think we have them in the right positions. They seemed to be in good shape, although a couple of them got tired. But even I got tired today. It was a hot day, but the guys will be fine. There is definitely enough (talent) here."
What were your impression of the freshmen offensive linemen?
"I was impressed with the new guys. They seemed to pick up on things pretty quickly, but they still have a long way to go. They don't know everything that we are trying to do but they aren't going to. With the way the new set-up is, you only get to practice once a day. So, really you are only half a day as far along as you normally would have been a year ago."
Now that you have the one hour walk-through practice prior to the normal practice, does that take a lot of energy out of them prior to the normal practice?
"I'm not worried about that. You have to get out there and work, work, work, work. If the sun takes it out of them, it is better to find out about it now than later when you are in pads.
"I don't thing there is any difference in shorts and pads as far as the intensity that you worked at and the amount of work. A lot of times we can get a lot more work done in shorts than we can in pads."
Are you satisfied with the weight loss of the players you wanted to lose weight?
"I am very pleased with Johnny (Wadley). He is not all the way there, but he is a lot closer than what he has been. Otis (Riddley) is still making progress. We are not all the way there but I am proud of their efforts."
08/04/03 - Although I only stayed around for about an hour while the MSU football veterans and newcomers arrived, I did see several newcomers, including Omarr Conner, Dezmond Sherrod, Eric Fuller, Royce Blackledge, Donovan Davis, Brian Anderson, Adrian Griffith, Jason Husband, Carlton Rice, Corey Clark, Deljuan Robinson, Michael Heard, Brad Horton, John Davis, Luke Addison and Andrew Powell.
Jackson Prep quarterback Luke Addison, one of the top players in the academy ranks last season is walking on at State. Oak Grove High School offensive lineman John Davis, who was originally going to grayshirt and come in next spring, will be walking on this fall instead. Dezmond Sherrod, who is from Caledonia, Mississippi (about five miles from Columbus), told me that he has been taking courses at the University of Mississippi for Women in Columbus this summer. Deljuan Robinson is now down to 286 pounds. Eric Fuller weighed in at 175 pounds. Royce Blackledge has a younger brother who looks to be about 6-2 to 6-3 and 300+ pounds. Donovan Davis weighed in at 336 pounds. Brian Anderson is tall and lean similar to how junior tackle David Stewart looked when he first arrived at MSU. Andrew Powell, who was the thickness freshman that I saw, is built like a tank.