Beamer Pleased With His Running Backs

Mississippi State running backs coach Shane Beamer likes the options he has with his halfbacks and fullbacks.

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At halfback, Beamer has six players who are competing for playing time.

"In our mind, I don't think we have a first-team, second-team, third-team. We think we have six guys that can go in and play and help us win a game - Brandon Thornton, Anthony Dixon, Christian Ducre, Arnil Stallworth, Justin Williams and Derek Ambrose," said Beamer. "We have it broken up in practice where we are giving them equal amount of reps with the first-team and second-team. We'll go into the scrimmage this weekend and see how it shakes out, then go with a pecking order going into the South Carolina game."

Brandon Thornton, however, appears to be ahead of the others at this point in time.

"With BT, he knows where to be, what to do and he's a great leader," said Beamer. "I can't think of him ever having a bad practice. He comes out here everyday ready to get better and ready to compete. And, as a coach, you can't ask for anything more."

A youngster giving him a run for his money is true freshman Anthony Dixon. So far, Coach Beamer likes what he sees.

"He has size and can lower his shoulder and run over people, but he has great feet for a big guy. That's what we like about him," said Beamer. "We knew he was a bruising runner, but he has great feet and the ability to make people miss."

Dixon also has the intangibles that a coach looks for.

"He wants to be good and is constantly studying the game," said Beamer. "He didn't have to be over here (for practice) until 2:30. I called him at 12 noon and he was in our meeting room studying practice from yesterday, going over plays, watching Coach Croom's cut-up of his running backs when he was at San Diego and Detroit. He wants to be great. If he continues working like he is now, he is going to be great.

"But people have to realize the kid is still a freshman that's yet to play in a college game. We don't want to hand him the Heisman Trophy yet (laugh). He's a guy that's still learning."

At the fullback position, despite his two senior fullbacks being limited in practice due to minor injuries, he's not concern. In fact, their injuries are giving the younger guys a chance to showcase their skills.

"We are solid at fullback. I know what Bryson Davis and Casey Rogers can do," he said. "If we had a game today, Bryson and Casey would play, but there's no sense beating them up and hurting our chances against South Carolina. This gives Brandon Hart a chance to get reps. It also gives Eric Hoskins (Holmes CC, Jr., 5-11, 234) and Cleveland Tubbs (Amory HS, RFr., 5-10, 220), both of whom are walk-ons, a chance to get some work."

As of now, he's not sure who, if anybody, will redshirt this season. The upcoming scrimmage could go a long way in determining that.

"The scrimmage this Saturday will tell a lot about a lot of people," said Beamer. "Guys like Brandon Thornton and (fullback) Bryson Davis won't get a lot of work this Saturday. We know what they can do. We want to get those guys out there that we have questions about or guys that the jury is still out on. But we aren't going to play a guy unless he's going to play a lot on special teams and on offense."

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

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