A Q&A with WR Coach Mark Hudspeth

Mississippi State wide receiver coach Mark Hudspeth talks about his wide receivers, how they did this past spring and who is projected to be on the 1st team and who are their backups.

Coming out of spring who were the starters at your different wide receiver positions?
"We have a Z, an H and an X.

"Coming out of spring, the Z starter was Chris Smith. He had a solid spring and continues to improve. His body has developed and he is a lot leaner. (Head strength) Coach (Matt) Balis has done a really great job trimming him up. He has big, strong hands. He needs to increase his speed just a little, but he runs good route. He has a chance to be a solid player for us this fall."

How has he improved since last fall?
"He has improved on how to run routes. He was real raw in the fall and only had a few weeks to get ready to go. Now, he has a spring under his belt and has had a lot of routes. He's still got a long way to go but he is going to be a guy who will contribute this fall."

Who is the starter at H?
"Chad Bumphis is our starter at H. He had a really good fall, although he started just a little slow. But I felt, as the season wore on, he really became more confident and finished extremely, extremely strong. He showed that he has play-making ability, good hands and real good acceleration. He's a guy that we need to try and get the ball to because he is a guy who can make some plays and make some things happen for us offensively."

Who will start at X?
"Leon Berry is the starter at the X position. He has a lot of talent, good speed and runs good routes. I'm still hoping to see a little more maturity, a little more leadership out of him due to him being a senior. But he has the ability to be a really good receiver in this league. He returned two kickoffs for touchdowns last year, so we know he is a really good kick and punt returner with good hands."

Who do expect to play behind those guys?
"Before he got hurt, Sam Williams was out next best wide receiver. He's expected back by (preseason) camp. We just have to wait and see how productive he will be with his knee."

What did you see from him that you liked so much?
"He has a lot of speed, really tough, really good hands and runs good routes. He was just starting to really turn the corner this spring and showed that he could be an outstanding player for us, then the injury occurred. We hope it won't be too much of a setback and with his work ethic I don't foresee it being a setback. He has one of the best work ethics on the entire team."

Who are some other guys?
"Brandon Heavens is a guy who will have to help us. He'll have to give Bumphis some rest. He's gotten a little bit bigger. The main problem he had last year was he was light. Due to that, it was hard for him to be an every down player. He has beefed up, got more confident and understands the offense a little better.

"We also have two other guys who really need to come on that are battling it out for that next position at either X or Z, Ricco Sanders and Arceto Clark. Clark showed some flashes that he may be able to help us. He showed good hands and ran good routes this spring for the five practices that he was at receiver. Ricco, at times, showed some flashes that he can help us. But both of those guys need to come in great shape and have great fall camps.

"Charles Bailey, at times, has showed that he might be able to step up and help us. He was a little bit distracted this spring and that set him back a little bit. He works hard and he is a very good young man with a great attitude. That is what I like about him.

"Another guy who I really like who we have moved over to receiver is Chris Cameron. He is a competitor and a hard worker. I hope that he can find a role on our team."

You also signed some pretty good wide receivers in the incoming freshmen class?
"Malcolm Johnson from Northridge is a player we noticed at camp and really liked a lot. He has the physical stature to play early, but anytime you have incoming freshmen you have to wait and see how well they pick up the offense and how mature they are.

"Robert Johnson is one that will be here in July. That will help him to better prepare for the season. He is another big target who is physically ready to play. He is going to have to get in shape, though.

"Matthew Wells probably has the best speed of any of those three. He also has good height and really good athletic ability. He is a strong runner.

"Michael Carr will be here in July. And he's a guy who probably has the most speed of any of the receivers.

"It will be interesting to watch those four guys and see who develops."

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

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