Play Them or Redshirt Them?

One of the toughest things for a college coach to do is figure out what freshmen are ready or not ready to play their true freshman season. Mississippi State head man, Sylvester Croom, is currently going through that very thing his first season as a college football coach.

Although it looks like most of his freshman class will be redshirted, several freshmen played last weekend and a few others have played well enough in practice to cause Coach Croom and his staff to consider playing them this season.

Three of those freshmen in question are linebacker Titus Brown, quarterback Michael Henig and defensive back De'Mon Glanton.

Brown, who will suit up for this weekend's game against Auburn after being honored as last week's scout team defensive player of the week, continues to perform well in practice.

Coach Croom discussed the possibility of playing him this season. "There are some thoughts about it and it still is not over yet," said Croom. "When he is in our drills and playing off the (scout team) cards, he has been something to deal with."

However, despite his outstanding practice play, Croom still has some concern about whether Brown is ready to play in a game. "We feel there is such a long learning curve for him to get all the details down," Croom said. "He could be good enough to play but could he be good enough to win in this conference? Looking good in practice is a whole lot different than playing good in the Southeastern Conference. Would he give us a better chance to win than those other guys right now just from a knowledge standpoint?

"We have some other kids like him," said Croom. "We're not sure how we want to handle Michael Henig. If we need to use him, we will use him. I've told him that. He will be ready to go."

De'Mon Glanton, a freshman who can play either safety or cornerback, is another one that has the State coaches in a dilemma. He appears to have the talent to play immediately, but is his playing right now a necessity? "De'Mon Glanton has practiced well in the preseason," said Croom. "We think with him we have a guy who can play outside or inside. He is sharp and likes to hit, he is a good cover guy. He is a lot better cover guy than we thought he was when we signed him. He is one of those guys that we would like to hold out because we do have some other guys in front of him."

Once again, play them or redshirt them? What should be the determining factor?

"My biggest fear is I don't want to waste our freshmen. I really don't want to waste them. We don't want to get them out there, find out that they are not quite ready and we have cost them a season," said Croom, who is not just looking at this season but 3 to 4 years down the road when these freshmen are either juniors or seniors. "I don't want them playing 5 or 6 plays (a game) when 3 or 4 years down the road we could have a great nucleus of a championship football team. I don't want those guys going to the NFL when they should still be here. I don't want that to happen."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by email at

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