Mississippi State has one more week of spring football practice to go. The spring session concludes with the spring scrimmage this Saturday during the Super Bulldog Weekend festivities.
The MSU coaches have been working hard to replace several starters or part-time starters from last year's team including two DOG safeties (Prather, Byrdsong), one defensive lineman (Davis), two defensive ends (Robertson, Stephens) on the defensive side. On the offensive side, MSU's coaches are looking for replacements for tailback (Miller), and three offensive linemen (Lee, Watson and Fairchild).
MSU was counting on senior Walter Burdett to take up the slack for one of the DOG safeties, but he suffered a separated shoulder when he met running back Dontae Walker head-on during one of the early practices. He will be 100% when fall two-a-days roll around. Other players working hard to earn starting positions at the DOG safety position include junior Milas Randle, sophomores Gabe Wallace and Bryan Shumaker. Track star Marquis Davis, one of the fastest humans in the world, has participated in most of the practices but has not really stood out.
All of the players have had their moments but Randle really looked good during last Saturday's scrimmage. Although he didn't have the scrimmage that Randle had, Bryan Shumaker has looked good during most of the practices.
Basketball player turned football player Michael Gholar has come on strong during his first week of spring practice. While several folks thought Gholar would contend for a starting spot at DOG safety, he has worked at free safety his first week. Michael told me that his lack of knowledge of the defense, he was told to work at free safety. Will he move to DOG safety later on once he understands the defense? Time will tell.
On the defensive line, junior Tommy Kelly, sophomore Ronald Fields (when healthy) and senior Kahlil Nash have all stood out. Unless things change during two-a-days, they should be next year's three-down starters.
To take up the slack left by the departed defensive ends Conner Stephens, Dwayne Robertson and Ivan Billie, MSU's coaches have moved junior linebackers Kamau Jackson and Jason Clark to defensive end. Both are very talented players who have had solid springs. Look for both to be in the starting lineup when opening day comes along. One player who could challenge for a starting spot at defensive end is former juco All-American Corey Brown. Corey redshirted last season and will be a junior next season. Sophomore Robert Spivey has also had a solid spring and will be looking for playing time next fall.
MSU will miss departed running back Dicenzo Miller. Miller always gave 100% effort day in day out. Replacing him will be difficult but senior running back Dontae Walker has had his best spring during his career and seems bent on taking up the slack. He has really run hard and has not backed down from anyone this spring. Sophomore running back Fred Reid has also had an outstanding spring. While he will never be a great inside threat, next to Ray Ray Bivines, he is the quickest player on the team. Give him the tiniest of seams and he will find it.
Offensive line has been the biggest concern on the offensive side of the ball. The spring results have been encouraging.
Senior offensive lineman Michael Allen has lost a lot of weight and it shows in his play. Last season he could barely run consecutive plays due to lack of stamina. This spring he has been an ironman, not missing a practice. At times he looks like an rock who can't be moved. If he continues to lose weight, he could be a potential All-SEC player for the Bulldogs. Another lineman who has looked better than expected is redshirt freshman Chris McNeil. While he still has a lot to learn, he has really looked good in the Oklahoma drill and other individual drills. He and returning junior center Blake Jones are in a battle for the starting center spot. Sophomore offensive tackle David Stewart has also had a solid spring and is challenging for a starting position. Junior Donald Tucker and sophomore Brad Weathers have also had good springs and could contend for starting spots. Because of an injury, former defensive tackle turned offensive guard Will Rogers, a sophomore, has not gotten to participate in a lot of spring practice. However, in limited play, he has looked very good at times. A starting offensive lineman from last season, Derrick Thompson, has missed all of the spring due to an injury. He should be 100% in the fall.
Two other offensive linemen, redshirt freshman Johnny "Big Daddy" Wadley and even bigger Rusty Holloway (listed at 355 but much, much bigger), have had their moments. Both are still too big and need to lose a lot of weight, but they have solid potential.
MSU basketball signee Stephen Cowherd, a point guard from Parkland Stoneman Douglas HS, earned first team All-State as selected by the Florida Sports Writers Association.
Senior softball player Kellie Wilkerson has been invited to participate in a team camp, May 30-June 3, at the ARCO Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. by USA Softball. This is Kellie's second consecutive invitation. Due to a lower back injury, she had to quit the team last year.
Two teams will be selected following the team camp in May/June. One will represent the USA at the U.S. Cup in Honolulu, HI, (July 4-7), the Canada Cup in Surrey, B.C., Canada (July 16-21) and the ISF Women's World Championship in Saskatoon, Canada (July 25-August 4). The second team selected will be called the USA Softball Elite Team, and it will help prepare the World Championship team for international events by competing in scrimmages and exhibition games prior to these events. The Elite Team will also compete in the Canada Cup.
Several high school players attended MSU football practice last week. Included among the group were junior offensive lineman Austin Baxter, 6-6, 270, Copiah Academy; freshman offensive lineman Josh McNeil, 6-4, 260, Collins (MS) HS; and junior tight end Linzy Patterson, 6-4, 216, Amory HS. Josh is current Bulldog Chris McNeil's "little" brother.
For those of you who prefer to pay for your Gene's Page premium subscription by check instead of by credit card, all you have to do is mail a check for $59.95 (year's subscription) to Gene's Page, P.O. Box 639, Caledonia, MS. 39740 when your subscription is about to expire. TheInsiders have it set up so that you can only pay for a year at a time when paying by check.
UPCOMING CALENDAR EVENTS
Mary Ann has recently added all of the MSU summer sports camps to the calendar. If you have a son or daughter who would like to attend a camp, check out the Gene's Page calendar for details.
If you have a MSU related event coming up and you don't see it listed on the Gene's Page calendar, email Mary Ann your information and she will post it on the calendar. We purchased the calendar for your use, so please don't hesitate using it. Mary Ann's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Well, that wraps up this week's edition of the Monday Morning Bulldog Coffee Break.
Have a great Bulldog week!
Archived Monday Morning Coffee Break Articles:
March 25, 2002
March 4, 2002
Feb. 25, 2002
Feb. 18, 2002
Feb. 11, 2002
Feb. 4, 2002
Jan. 28, 2002
Jan. 21, 2002
Jan. 14, 2002
Jan. 7, 2002
Dec. 31, 2001
Dec. 24, 2001
Dec. 17, 2001
Dec. 10, 2001
Dec. 3, 2001
Nov. 26, 2001
Nov. 19, 2001
Nov. 12, 2001
Nov. 7, 2001
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.