MSU WR Coach Guy Holliday's Evaluation

As Mississippi State gets closer to its first game of the year, the coaching staff continues to evaluate personnel to come up with a first and second team. Coach Holliday talks about who has stepped forward.

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Senior Will Prosser has been injured most of the camp, but he's expected to be ready for the South Carolina game. In addition to Will, a couple of other veterans have solidified their positions on the first-team.

"(Senior) Omarr (Conner) is solid. We know what he can do. He is a playmaker," said Holliday. "He is over six-foot tall and makes spectacular catches. He has really been a leader.

"(Junior) Lance Long (5-11, 186) has had a solid camp. I always say you can find all the reasons not to play Lance Long, but the bottom line is he makes play after play. Lance Long is a playmaker. He rarely drops the ball. And he is probably one of the most intelligent football players. He really understands how to use his quickness, how to use a quick burst to become a deep thread. I am really excited about where Lance is."

Two other players, a junior college transfer and a sophomore, are making moves that have put them among the first and second group of receivers.

"Obviously, the biggest improvement is that (juco transfer) Tony (Burks) has put together four really good days," said Holliday. "He is getting more comfortable with the offense and getting more comfortable with his surroundings. He has come along and made some big plays and has done the things we expected of him. We have seen his ability to catch the deep ball. We have seen some real ability to catch the short pass and break a tackle and get the yards after the catch.

"(Sophomore) Keon Humphries has really made a move the last few days to put himself into a solid position to be a good number 4. We are playing him a lot more in the slot, which allows him to get off the ball free and use his elusiveness more."

One of the biggest surprises of the camp has been a true freshman that only played one year of high school ball at the wide receiver position.

"Keith Mills has extremely good talent. He makes big plays, not just a play, but big plays on the deep ball all the time," said Holliday. "He is hitting what I call the freshman wall. The freshman wall is when you get tired mentally and physically and don't understand how to push through it yet. Once we get him through it, he will be ready to go against South Carolina."

Coach Holliday explained in a little more detail what makes Keith such a great wide receiver prospect.

"Keith has great football sense. Some guys just make plays," said Holliday of the 6-3, 200-pounder. "He has superior speed. He is probably a high 4.4 guy, a 4.48 guy. He's got great hips and great leaping ability. And good hands.

"Sometimes you get lucky. And I really feel like we got lucky. We got the steal. Give Southern Miss credit. And that's who we beat for him. They have always found diamonds in the rough. He's definitely a diamond in the rough."

Two other youngsters who are receiving long looks from the coaches are junior Tyler Threadgill and junior college transfer Ryan Mason. Although both have the physical talent the coaching staff is looking for, they have their own personal obstacles to overcome before they move into the first-group rotation.

"It has really been up and down with Tyler," said Holliday of the gifted youngster. "It's not physical with him. Playing receiver you have to have the utmost confidence in yourself. You can't let one drop ball or a bad day get you down. And, for whatever reason, he lets just one play snowball. The last few days he's made some really good plays, but it's always a roller coaster ride with him. Until we can get him on an even plane, we aren't sure what we will get when we put him out there.

"Ryan Mason has been hurt and hasn't been able to practice, so I really don't know where he is right now. It's hard to say when he will be ready because he has a quad strain."

Other guys vying for spots are junior Joey Sanders, sophomore Aubrey Bell and walk-ons Ben Shelton and Jamayel Smith.

Overall, Holliday is very pleased with the talented group that he has.

"I thought that Justin Jenkins, McKinley Scott and Ray Ray Bivines was the best group that I had here, but I really think this group will wind up being the best," said Holliday.

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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