Mississippi State held its first spring practice Tuesday afternoon in shells and shorts. There was a light scrimmage at the end but of course without pads on it was limited.
I’ll have a full notebook in tomorrow morning’s paper but here are a few observations I jotted down in my notebook while at today’s practice.
Junior offensive guard Justin Malone and senior safety Jay Hughes both participated during individual drills but were held out of the team and scrimmage portions of practice. Both were injured during the season opener and missed the remainder of the year. Malone was however about 45 minutes late to practice.
It was good to see senior linebacker Ferlando Bohanna back at practice. A concussion caused him to miss all but one game last year and at one point had put his career in jeopardy. Dan Mullen said afterwards that they would be really cautious with Bohanna once they don full pads and begin to hit at full speed.
In fact there were a few other guys who are coming off injury who returned to work Tuesday – senior tight end Brandon Hill, sophomore tight end Gus Walley and sophomore wide receiver Fred Ross.
Senior defensive tackles Kaleb Eulls and P.J. Jones both missed practice and spent most of the afternoon on exercise bikes. Eulls had a cast on his right foot while Jones was wearing a boot on his left.
It was the first practice for JUCO offensive line transfer Jocquell Johnson. Offensive line coach John Hevesy stated after practice that Johnson was “limited” and still needed to adjust to the speed of the game at this level. It was also the first practice for new quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson.
A guy I covered several times at New Hope High School and did a few recruiting stories on, Lawrence Brown, got in his first practice. Brown is attempting to make the roster as a walk-on tight end and definitely has the size to do so. His official height and weight are currently unavailable on the roster.
There were lots of familiar faces in new places also on Day 1. MSU experimented with a few position changes during bowl practice last season and a few of those moves stuck. Junior Rufus Warren moved from tight end to tackle, redshirt freshman B.J. Hammond from wide receiver to tight end, senior Justin Cox from cornerback to safety, senior Archie Muniz from guard to center, sophomore Devon Desper from center to guard, sophomore Brandon Holloway from wide receiver to running back, redshirt freshman Gabe Myles from cornerback to slot receiver, sophomore Quadry Antoine from safety to linebacker, sophomore DeAndre Ward from safety to linebacker, senior Christian Holmes from tight end to linebacker and redshirt freshman Trent Simpson from defensive end to defensive tackle.
Freshman quarterback Nick Fitzgerald switched jersey numbers to No. 17.
Rick Ray mentioned that sophomore wide receiver De’Runnya Wilson left the basketball team to recover from a slight groin strain a couple of weeks ago. Wilson practiced at full capacity on the first day.
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Shelby Christy did some individual work early on but missed all of the team drills and scrimmage and was in the injury pit with Eulls and Jones.
Junior linebacker Dee Arrington was not at Tuesday’s practice and I asked Mullen afterwards about his situation. Mullen stated that Arrington’s career could be over due to issues with his hamstring which kept him out to 10 games last season. However Mullen did not rule out the possibility of Arrington returning in the future.
During the 7-on-7 portion of practice, junior quarterback Dak Prescott was picked off by walk-on cornerback Broderick Oliver.
Myles juked junior linebacker Zach Jackson out big time after a catch in the flat.
Antione and sophomore safety Kivon Coman each had a pass break-up during 7-on-7.
During the pass skeleton drill, Prescott connected with a wide open Walley on a crossing route across the middle for a long touchdown.
Sophomore quarterback Damian Williams also hit Wilson down the left sideline for a touchdown.
Fitzgerald found sophomore wide receiver Fred Brown on a post route across the middle for a nice gainer as well in pass skeleton.
Once the scrimmage started, Prescott reconnected with Jameon Lewis as he did so many times a year ago. Lewis showed the same wiggle he did in the Liberty Bowl but was missing several pounds of dread as the freshly shorn senior wide receiver has gone with a different look.
Junior Josh Robinson had a 65-yard touchdown scamper on a counter right up the middle.
Brown made a leaping grab on a pass from Williams.
Holloway had a very nice run against the third team defense.
Simpson, sophomore Jordan Washington and senior Curtis Virges all recorded sacks during the scrimmage.
Prescott had one of his passes tipped by senior cornerback Jamerson Love but it was still hauled in by senior wideout Robert Johnson.
I thought Prescott really showed a lot of leadership out there on the field. There was one time when the offensive line jumped because they didn’t pay attention to the snap count and he stopped the practice and gave some “we’re better than that” type of encouragement to his offense.
Redshirt freshman Dezmond Harris missed an easy pick-six opportunity after one of Williams passes was batted at the line of scrimmage.
One of the more impressive things I saw on the day was 6-foot-5, 325-pound sophomore defensive tackle Nick James chase down Holloway 30-plus yards down field.
Fitzgerald had one of his passes tipped by Ward but was still grabbed by junior receiver Joe Morrow.
Other defensive highlights from the scrimmage included a tackle for loss by sophomore defensive tackle Nelson Adams, a pass break-up by junior safety Kendrick Market and a fumble recovery by sophomore defensive end A.J. Jefferson.
Today’s practice concluded with a short field goal session. Sophomore Evan Sobiesk made his first one from 23-yards out but the ball clanked off the right upright before bouncing through.
First team offense
QB Dak Prescott
RB Josh Robinson
WR De’Runnya Wilson
WR Robert Johnson
WR Jameon Lewis
TE Malcolm Johnson
LT Blaine Clausell
LG Jamaal Clayborn
C Dillon Day
RG Ben Beckwith
RT Damien Robinson
First team defense
DE Ryan Brown
DT Nelson Adams
DT Chris Jones
DT Preston Smith
LB Matthew Wells
LB Benardrick McKinney
LB Beniquez Brown
CB Jamerson Love
CB Taveze Calhoun
S Kendrick Market
S Justin Cox
Second team offense
QB Damian Williams
RB Nick Griffin
WR Fred Brown
WR Jeremey Chappelle
WR Gabe Myles
TE Artimas Samuel
LT Cole Carter
LG Kent Flowers
C Archie Muniz
RG Devon Desper
RT Jake Thomas
Second team defense
DE A.J. Jefferson
DT Nick James
DT Curtis Virges
DE Torrey Dale
LB Dezmond Harris
LB Richie Brown
LB Zach Jackson
CB Cedric Jiles
CB Will Redmond
S Deontay Evans
S Kivon Coman