You wanted it, you got it. The youth movement is on at Mississippi State.
After signing 4 Parade All-Americans and several other very, very good players in last season's recruiting class, MSU fans were giddy with excitement about what the future held for the next few years.
Coach Jackie Sherrill, seeing what happened last season while redshirting almost all of last year's most promising freshmen, decided that would not happen again.
Although the football team remains in the midst of a lingering slump, Coach Sherrill is not letting that deter him from playing true freshmen and redshirt freshmen.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Kyle York started the first game of the season against Oregon and has backed up starting QB Kevin Fant during the other three games.
True freshmen running backs Jerious Norwood and Nick Turner (both Parade Americans) have rushed the ball for 55 yards on 15 carries, caught 7 passes for 100 yards and returned punts and kicks for 180 yards, which is a total of 335 yards in 4 games.
True freshmen wide receivers Brandon Wright and Tee Milons, during the first 4 games, have caught 5 passes for 87 yards.
On the offensive line, redshirt freshmen Chris McNeil and Johnny Wadley have played well. McNeil has started three games. True freshman Richard Burch, the top high school offensive lineman in the state of Mississippi last season, has played more and more minutes as the season has progressed. During the LSU loss, he played most of the game and played well.
On the defensive side of the ball, redshirt freshman DOG safety Rico Bennett has been the starter in three of the four games, missing one game due to an injury. On the season, Rico has recorded 4 tackles and 1 fumble recovery. Other redshirt freshmen including linebacker Brandon Downing (2 tackles) and cornerback Derrick Crockett (4 tackles) have also played this year. True freshmen free safety (Parade All-American) Darren Williams (7 tackles), linebacker (Parade All-American) Marvin Byrdsong (2 tackles), linebacker Kenny Kern (1 tackle) and cornerback Kevin Dockery (1 tackle) have played in backup roles. Another true freshman, Willie Evans, played noseguard against LSU and recorded 3 tackles (2 solos). Prior to that game, Willie was the third string fullback.
Almost all of these 16 freshmen have played in all four games this season.
As these outstanding freshmen progress, look for the future of Mississippi State football to be very bright indeed.
While the future of MSU football looks bright, MSU basketball's present looks even brighter.
Not since the year of MSU's Final Four season, has there been as much hype surrounding the MSU basketball program.
Of the 4 pre-season college basketball publications that I have purchased, MSU is ranked as high as 10th:
Not only is the team ranked in the top 20 by most publications, several MSU players are also receiving national attention.
Junior Mario Austin:
Senior Derrick Zimmerman:
With the return of starters Mario Austin, Derrick Zimmerman and Michal Ignerski, MSU, picked 2nd in the West to Alabama in most publications, has most of their points and rebounds back. And with Timmy Bowers moving into the starting shooting guard role, MSU looks to have one of the most athletic backcourts in the SEC and, possibly, nation.
According to most sources, MSU's coaches want to move Austin to the power forward spot with 6-9 Lincoln Smith, 7-0 Marcus Campbell and 7-2 Wesley Morgan competing for the center spot.
Look for juco transfer forward/center Brandon Vincent to make a significant impact, especially on the defensive end.
By the way, while the present looks very, very bright, the future could be even brighter, because Coach Rick Stansbury and his outstanding recruiting staff of Robert Kirby and Phil Cunningham have received commitments from three of the top 38 players in the nation in center Jackie Butler, forward Travis Outlaw and point guard Gary Ervin. MSU is also in the mix for two other top 50 players in forward Brandon Bass and wing guard Gary Forbes. Early returns have MSU's recruiting class ranked 2nd in the nation. If MSU signs Bass or Forbes, it could go to 1st.
And let's not forget baseball. Based on the 7 scrimmages that I have seen, the following players have looked very good.
Freshmen position players Joseph Hunter (CF, good hitter, good defense), Brad Corley (RF, good hitter, strong arm), Brian LaNinfa (OF, good hitter) and Ben Grisham (IN/OF, good hitter) have hit the ball well during the fall scrimmages. Veterans Jon Mungle, Steve Gendron, Brent Lewis and J.B. Tucker have also hit the ball well.
In what appears to be a very deep and talented pitching staff, pitchers who have performed well include redshirt sophomore LHP Todd Nicholas (9 IP, 3 H, 15 SO, 3.00 ERA, top fastball 97 mph), redshirt freshman RHP Jamie Gant (1.20 ERA, 6 hits in 15 innings, top fastball 95 mph), junior LHP Paul Maholm (9 IP, 5 H, 17 SO, top fastball 93 mph), freshman RHP Brad Corley (8 IP, 0 H, 12 SO, 0.00 ERA, top fastball 92 mph), senior LHP Joey Collums (0.00 ERA), redshirt freshman RHP Brett Cleveland (11 IP, 3 H, 9 SO, 0.82 ERA), redshirt freshman LHP Jake Ociesa (11 IP, 3 H, 16 SO, 1.64 ERA) and sophomore RHP Alan Johnson (15 IP, 14 H, 18 SO, 1.20 ERA).
The overall defense has also looked very good during the fall.
My early position starter projections have Matthew Brinson at 1B, Scarbrough/Berkery/Tackett at 2B, Matthew Maniscalco at SS, Steve Gendron at 3B, Tucker/Tatum/Berkery at C, Jon Mungle in LF, Joseph Hunter in CF and Brad Corley in RF. I have Brent Lewis at DH and in the OF.
Fighting for spots in the SEC pitching rotations are Paul Maholm (Friday), Joey Collums (Sunday), Todd Nicholas (Saturday), Jacob Blakeney (Sunday), Jonathan Papelbon (Saturday). Jamie Gant, Jake Ociesa and Alan Johnson are not far behind. The talent is there. All they lack is game experience.
Want to know the stats for MSU and their upcoming opponent? Then, go to my front page, scroll down until you see the football section and click on Insider Stats. The link will take you to a page that has all kinds of stats about MSU and their next opponent.
UPCOMING CALENDAR EVENTS
If you don't see your event listed on the Gene's Page calendar, please email Mary Ann at the email address listed below.
If you have a MSU related event coming up and you don't see it listed on the Gene's Page calendar, email Mary Ann your information and she will post it on the calendar. We purchased the calendar for your use, so please don't hesitate using it. Mary Ann's new email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Well, that wraps up this week's edition of the Monday Morning Bulldog Coffee Break.
Have a great Bulldog week!
Archived Monday Morning Coffee Break Articles:
September 23, 2002
September 16, 2002
September 9, 2002
September 2, 2002
August 26, 2002
August 12, 2002
July 22, 2002
July 8, 2002
June 24, 2002
June 17, 2002
June 10, 2002
June 3, 2002
May 27, 2002
May 20, 2002
May 13, 2002
May 6, 2002
April 29, 2002
April 22, 2002
April 8, 2002
April 1, 2002
March 25, 2002
March 4, 2002
Feb. 25, 2002
Feb. 18, 2002
Feb. 11, 2002
Feb. 4, 2002
Jan. 28, 2002
Jan. 21, 2002
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Dec. 31, 2001
Dec. 24, 2001
Dec. 17, 2001
Dec. 10, 2001
Dec. 3, 2001
Nov. 26, 2001
Nov. 19, 2001
Nov. 12, 2001
Nov. 7, 2001
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.