A Q&A With MSU WRs Coach Pat Washington

Mississippi State wide receivers coach Pat Washington talks about how each of his wide receivers did during the recently completed spring practice.

How did your receivers do during the spring and what do you expect from them this coming season?
"I'll start off with (senior) Jamayel Smith. He had a really good spring. I think he accepted his leadership role this spring and I hope it carries over to the summer. If it does, what he can do on and off the field will make us a better football team. And I'm not just talking about the receivers, but the entire team. Based on his ability and his personality, he can be a leader for the entire team. He has very good speed, experience and is a guy who has the potential to make big plays."

Senior Aubrey Bell
"He's another one that has a lot of experience. From the football standpoint, he's the smartest of the group. He has knowledge of every receiver position and he can play any position on the field. He's got really great size.

"Spring practice wasn't a great spring for him, but it was a learning spring for him. He learned that there are some things he's got to do to be a good receiver for us this year. And based on what I have seen from talking to him and the strength coach, he's headed in the right direction.

"He can also be a leader for us simply because he understands the game. And he understands all of the positions. He will be the guy, of all of our guys, who will help our younger guys because he can explain to them what we are doing. And sometimes when a player tells them what to do, moreso than a coach, the kids can understand it a little better."

What about senior Co-Eric Riley?
"Co-Eric is 100% better as far as having learned our system. He understands the overall team concept, which wasn't quite there when he initially got here, but I think he truly understands it and understands his role.

"He is a physical kid, a guy who can be a clutch receiver. He's not afraid to catch the football in traffic or afraid to go over the middle. He's also got a good knack for the deep ball and knows how to use his body. He's not a great speed guy, but he can use his body really well. I also think he's a guy who can turn five yard plays into 10 to 15 yard plays.

"Being a senior, his role as a leader is getting better. I saw in the spring where he was trying to help the younger guys and trying to encourage the offense when it wasn't doing things in a positive manner."

Senior Ryan Mason.
"Ryan is a guy who made big strides in the spring. He has good size. He doesn't have the experience that the others have, but he has the size and ability that is very similar to those guys. Right now, he seems to understand what he has to do to help this football team. He's not only going to have to help out from an offensive standpoint, but from a special teams standpoint as well."

Is he 100% healthy?
"He made it through the spring. That was big for him to make it through each day in the spring. That was a huge improvement for him. The little nagging injuries that usually sidelined him, he actually fought through them and ended up practicing the entire spring. That was very encouraging."

Junior Brandon McRae.
"B-Mac is a guy who everybody has been encouraged about since he first walked on campus. He earned a scholarship last year and saw some playing time. He improved as the season continued. I thought by the end of the season he had gotten to a point where he could compete for a starting role.

"This spring he took the time to learn every receiver position. I think he could come in and start for us just like Jamayel Smith or Co-Eric Riley or Aubrey Bell. I feel just as comfortable with him being able to come in and play for us next year."

True freshman O'Neal Wilder.
"During the little bit of spring he was able to go through - he went through a week - he showed signs of a guy with a lot of big-play ability. One thing that is really very difficult to improve on is speed. And he has that. That was the biggest reason we wanted him here.

"For a 400 meters guy he has decent quickness. His stride is not as long as I thought it would be. A lot of 400 meter guys are long striders, but he has good short strides and can accelerate. And he catches the ball. He's not afraid to catch the ball because he caught a few balls in the spring over the middle where it was a catch and bang play. He got hit as soon as he caught the ball and he held onto it. That was very encouraging."

While he's tall and skinny, do you feel he has better strength than most people would expect from him?
"He's got that core strength inside of him. and he's mentally tough. Guys who run the 400 meters have something inside of them that is a little different than everybody else. And for him to do it at a competitive level like he has done is amazing."

You've got several other freshmen coming in besides Wilder.
"Charles Bailey and Delmon Robinson are the others.

"Bailey is a really good route runner. He is a son of a man who has been in the NFL professional business for a while, so he understands the work ethic that is necessary. While he's not a blazing speed guy, he is crafty. He understands the game. And people like that are very, very important to your program.

"Delmon is a kid that I love. I read an article where he talked about the team concept and what he wanted to do to help this football team. And how he wants to do whatever he can to be a part of this team from special teams to whatever it may be. He's a coach's son and a basketball player. I would guess, just watching him jump, he's a 36 to 40 inch vertical leap guy. He's also very athletic and can play several positions on offense or offense.

"Terrance Davis is going to start at quarterback and may play a little receiver, but quarterback is where he is going to begin."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at swindoll@genespage.com.

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