"The newcomers at fullback are Bryson Davis and Willie Evans. Willie is catching on very fast. He is a quick learner and he is a big (258 pounds), athletic guy that we are expecting good things from. Bryson is another big guy who is about 268. He has to lose some weight. He is probably not as far along as Willie is right now because he wasn't here this summer. They both run well and are pretty athletic.
"At tailback we have Nick Turner. I have been very pleased with Nick. He has doing really well. Jerious Norwood is also doing really well. He is learning the system. The biggest things about those two guys are they are very athletic, run well and they both catch the ball well.
"All four of these guys work very hard. I have been really pleased with all four of them."
You mentioned that Willie was at State during the summer. Jerious and Nick were as well. How much will that help them?
"It helps conditioning-wise. To me, the biggest thing is now they understand that they can run the entire practice and not worry about just surviving it. A guy that comes in during two-a-days is thinking midway through practice, 'can I make it through practice' while the guys who came in early are in pretty good shape and can concentrate on their assignments. Also, being around their teammates during the summer is a big plus for them."
Talk about the veteran running backs.
"At fullback, I have (senior) Justin Griffith back. He is being a great leader and he has a great work ethic. He is doing everything that he can do to help us be successful. I think he is a better player than he was at this time last year. I think we are going to see a lot of good things from him. (Sophomore) Darnell Jones, who is backing up Justin, is not quite healthy yet. He had surgery a week and a half before we reported. They went in and scoped out some fragments that were on a tendon in his ankle. He is not quite 100%, but today in practice, he did some good things in pass protection. He should be 100% by the start of the season. He is pushing himself through it, whereas some guys might not. He is a better player than he was when we ended last season. His body is different. He has gotten stronger. I am pleased with him. (Redshirt freshman) Jeff Billings is behind those guys. He is better than he was last year. He has a better understanding of what we are doing, offensively. That was probably his biggest problem last year.
"At tailback, (senior) Dontae is working hard and losing weight. He is picking up where he left off in the spring. He is working hard and is doing everything I ask him to do. That is all that I can ask. (Sophomore) Fred Reid is doing well. He is catching the ball and pushing the ball down the field. I expect him to be a good backup. I don't know if there will be a drop off when we bring him in because he does some different things than Dontae. Elmore Wonsley will be a good backup player for us. He is limited in some of the things he can do, but he works hard and never complains. He does what he needs to do for the team. That is the kind of guys that we have to have. We have a bunch of those type guys in our group."
You are pretty deep at your two positions. Where will the new guys figure in the mix? Will they be a factor in the depth chart or will they mostly figure in special teams?
"Right now, I don't think there is anyway to tell. They have ability, but sometimes kids don't turn that ability loose because they aren't sure what to do. Once they get accustomed to what they are doing, they will play faster. You have to let them put on the pads and go through some scrimmages and see how they do. There is a big transition from high school to college. It wouldn't be fair for me to say (right now) that they are going to play or they aren't going to play."
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.