Keith Mills is Growing up Fast

For the most part, true freshmen are redshirted. However, Keith Mills is not your typical freshman. Because of that, he's having to grow up early because he's going to be counted on by the Mississippi State coaching staff to play this season.

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After about the first week, Keith knew something was up. He went from a reserve green jersey to a starting maroon jersey.

"The first week I came out I noticed that I didn't have a green jersey anymore. I had a maroon jersey. I thought that something was wrong, so I checked the depth chart," said the surprised youngster. "And I was on there at first team. I was told that (MSU head) Coach (Sylvester) Croom wanted to get me ready to play. They told me that I had to grow up."

The MSU coaches immediately liked what they saw from the talented receiver.

"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 MSU wide receiver coach Guy Holliday. "Keith has great football sense. Some guys just make plays. 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."

What is amazing about him having football instincts is he's still a newbie when it comes to the game of football.

"I've played football going on two years. My senior year is the only year that I played the full year and I only played wide receiver part of it," said the 6-3, 205-pounder. "I played quarterback the first half and wide receiver the last six games. My 11th grade year I was hurt. And my sophomore year I didn't know what I was doing. Then, my 11th grade year I started understanding the game a little bit more and became a fan of it and fell in love with it."

How does he account for his knack for the game considering it doesn't come from experience?

"I don't know, maybe it's something that was passed down from my father, some instinct type thing," said Keith, who has recorded a 39-inch vertical leap and been consistently timed in the forty at 4.47 seconds. "I played basketball all my life and was pretty athletic when I was younger. It just kind of came natural."

One thing is for sure, the Bulldog coaching staff not only is happy that he chose to take up the game of football, but are also feeling pretty lucky these days. It's not often you sign someone with his combination of size and athletic ability.

"Sometimes you get lucky. And I really feel like we got lucky," said Holliday. "He's definitely a diamond in the rough."

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

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