Scouting the Sun Belt: MTSU

In a sentence; MTSU got the shaft last year. After being favored to win the inaugural Sun Belt title, a late season loss put them in front of the television and North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl. The Blue Raiders should be able to finish the task in '02, getting the automatic bowl bid offered by the conference with help from a pair of big time pro-prospects on offense.

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

Big is the best way to describe the skill players offered by MTSU. Dwone Hicks is a nice sized interior runner, with powerful legs, hips and the abilities to move the pile or break several tackles in a single run. It seems impossible for a one defender to bring him down at the point as he keeps his legs chugging up the field and picks up a lot of yardage off initial contact carrying the ball. More than a bowling pin that bounces off would be tacklers, Hicks displays vision, patience and a little jelly in his running within confined spaces. He gets stronger as the game progresses and the more carries he receives, showing the ability to take a lot of hand-offs deep into a contest, and is also an adequate receiver out of the backfield. Not fast, Hicks has minimal skills outside of tackle and cannot beat opponents to the corner. Good workouts prior to April puts him in the draft's first day, otherwise he's a better version of Adrian Peterson and hence, a middle round pick. Tyrone Calico caught our eye three years ago against Florida and is a huge receiver, offering a tremendously large target for the quarterback. His overall receiving skills are solid, the hands are consistent and Calico can make the big catch in traffic. Long-legged and a long strider, he lacks quickness and speed, we think. Calico takes a while to get it going but when running full speed looks like a cross between a gazelle and runaway locomotive. He is not fast to the eye but Blesto has timed him at a 4.37, though we will go on record and state his playing speed is nowhere near that. For a team looking towards a big receiver Calico is one of the better ones available next April and the faster he runs prior to the draft, the higher he'll move up boards.

One defensive player we've charted, and a prospect whose progression we like, is corner/safety Muhammad Rashada, a fine athlete slowly becoming a very effective cover-man.

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