Ducre Joins Backfield Roster On Day-Three

It required a few days longer than hoped, and he missed two full practices and half of another. But halfback Christian Ducre has finally and officially joined the Mississippi State preseason roster. The Tulane transfer reported for duty midway of Friday's evening practice session, adding more depth and further competition to a focal point of the Bulldog offense.

"It took long enough," Ducre said following practice, which ended at 9:15. "I've been waiting for this like the whole summer."

The newest runner on the roster was the main news of this day, as State settles into the routine of August drills. Day-three of camp did see the Dogs don shoulder pads, which allowed some very limited contact in a few periods. But otherwise work continued under first-week restrictions. The full gear will go on tomorrow.

Coach Sylvester Croom was unavailable for comment after practice. But all media attention was on Ducre anyway. Ducre (pronounced dew-cree) redshirted at Tulane as a true freshman in 2005, then left the school this spring when his computer science major was dropped. "Everything was so unstable, I was happy to get out of there." He said Croom had seen his high school tapes and offered a scholarship in June. "And I accepted it."

Under NCAA rules he can transfer ‘across' in Division IA without sitting out a season, but to be able to play this fall he also had to meet grade-and-hour minimums.

Ducre was able to obtain the necessary credits at a school in Atlanta, finishing up just this week. "It was two internet courses, sociology and a parenting course, and I got two A's. I was in Atlanta for about two weeks. They told me yesterday I had been cleared." There is still the matter of MSU receiving a NCAA waiver allowing immediate eligibility, which State could not apply for until Ducre had actually qualified for re-admission to college. "What I'm hearing is it's supposed to be good, they've just got to send it to the NCAA."

As to a couple of other eligibility situations, there was no update on two freshman, back Courtney Jones and receiver Alex Carpenter, who are still uncertified by the NCAA Clearinghouse. State had expected Carpenter to be cleared this week, while Jones' situation is much less certain.

Now that he's here Ducre, who will wear #29, also has to take a place at the end of Friday's lineup of halfbacks, which is headed by Brandon Thornton and Derek Ambrose. Walk-on Justin Williams is currently the third back after doing yeoman's work in spring camp when those veterans were hurting. True freshmen Anthony Dixon and Arnil Stallworth took snaps last in this grouping, and now they have to watch out for another newcomer in the mix.

"Some people think I'm elusive but I like to be a power runner," Ducre said. "I plan to be one cut and get up the field." He also can't wait to shed the green jersey worn by backups, as it is a bit too similar to his former school's colors. "I just need to learn the offense and everything."

Looking at Friday's workouts on offense first, pass-catching drills gave some clues as to how State will rotate the receivers. In routine sets Omarr Conner and Tony Burks are the first men up, with Will Prosser or Ryan Mason the third target in those sorts of plays. Keon Humphries and Lance Long looked to be the primary backups in the first- and second-group combinations.

The first offensive line was the same as Thursday with J.D. Hamilton now at right tackle and Calvin Wilson at left since first-day RT Craig Jenkins was demoted to the second unit. Jenkins has kept his maroon jersey status, though, so he remains in contention. On that second team left guard Anthony Dunning is now wearing second-team green while right guard Michael Gates was promoted to maroon. Also, Johnny Carpenter has moved up to second-center after two days. The third line was, left to right, Mark Melichar, Gunner Boykin, Chris Spencer, John McMillan, and Mike Brown.

There were a couple of shifts on the defensive front. As most expected, Titus Brown returned to the first line at left end. He lost the spot in spring with leg problems, and Charles Burns got to work two days with the first unit because he'd ended spring atop the chart. Burns is still in first-unit white. There was another adjustment on the front as Antonio Johnson, who missed Thursday's drills with a end-of-semester exam, returned and was put on the first unit in place of starter Deljuan Robinson. Since they and nose tackle Andrew Powell are a regular rotation first- and second-status means little. Quinton Wesley remains the fourth interior lineman, with rookies Kyle Love and Reggie Odom filling out the three-deep at tackles.

Michael Heard is still first-end ahead of Avery Hannibal. There were no two-deep changes at either linebacker or defensive back from Thursday, or for that matter on the third unit at either area.

Croom said all summer that he will use regulars on special teams if that is what State needs to get more out of the kicking game. The coach has been as good as his word. Friday saw more attention to placekicking sets, without actually trying to boot the ball off the tee. The attention was on developing both protection and rush/block squads and indeed plenty of first-teammers were working on each side of the line. Adam Carlson has maintained the top job while Brooks Crabtree does the holding, though spring holder Blake McAdams is usually busy practicing punting elsewhere during these drills.

Two players were held out of practice with hamstrings Friday. Third-team cornerback Demario Bobo hurt his leg midway of Thursday's drills, while freshman tight end Brandon Jones-Henderson has yet to practice with his strain.

Saturday's session in full-pads, which is also the first day for full-contact, starts mid-afternoon and is scheduled for 2:30 again. There will be no Sunday practice. The first two-a-day date is Tuesday.

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