Burch Suspended For Undisclosed Reasons

Mississippi State offensive tackle Richard Burch was suspended from the Bulldog team, effective Tuesday, for violation of team and University policies.

As is his practice, the announcement by Coach Sylvester Croom did not specify the nature of the offence, nor the rule broken. Croom also maintained his policy of not commenting further on team discipline matters once the official announcement had been released.

Burch, a rising senior, started all 11 games in the 2004 season at left tackle, just as he started 12-straight games in 2003. His best game of '04 was against Kentucky, when he graded out at 88% in a win over the Wildcats with five knockdown blocks.

Burch had come back from a foot injury in 2002 to begin his two-year run as the starting left tackle, though he nearly lost his job last spring to James Redmond until the latter was ruled ineligible for the fall semester.

Because this action is a suspension, and not a dismissal, Burch's status for either spring training or the fall season is uncertain. Croom has allowed suspended players to return to the roster, though they must meet specific criteria which are kept between coach and player and not revealed to the public. Dismissals are final, and Croom keeps those matters private as well.

Mississippi State spring camp begins March 7, and ends April 9.

When the Bulldogs begin practices they will have a revamped offensive coaching staff. Following the departure of Stan Drayton to take a position at the University of Florida, Croom reportedly has made plans to move Coach Freddie Kitchens from tight ends to running backs.

Kitchens, who came to MSU with Croom last year and was one of the first aides hired, had spent the 2001-03 seasons coaching running backs at North Texas. He also coached backs at his first college job, at Glenville, W.V. State in 1999, and worked with the offensive scout team one year at LSU before moving to Denton. At North Texas, he helped develop the Mean Green ground game and produced two All-Conference tailbacks.

Now Kitchens would get to work with rising senior Jerious Norwood after the tailback posted a 1,000-yard junior campaign. This move would leave an opening at tight ends, where State returns everyone who played the position last fall. With spring camp still a month off Croom has time to look for a new addition to his staff, or he could promote from within.

One possibility is that current graduate assistant Reed Stringer, who joined the staff for the 2004 season as offensive G.A., will take over tight ends this spring. Stringer, a lineman at Delta State, coached tight at DSU as a graduate coach in 2002.

Mississippi State has made no announcement regarding staff moves or promotions, with the coaches fully-occupied at the moment by recruiting demands.

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