The wide receivers got in a lot of work this spring. It wasn’t just in the spring game that there were a lot of balls in the air. Mississippi State’s quarterbacks passed the ball a bunch at practices this spring which should help Dak Prescott in the fall. I think by now we all know how dangerous he can be in the running game.
I’ve been impressed over the past few years at the variety of receivers the Bulldogs have recruited. Dan Mullen’s initial class was loaded with wideouts but they had nowhere near the variety of receivers that are currently on the roster. They’ve got big, lanky receivers who can jump, they’ve got big, physical possession receivers and even small, shifty guys in the slot. This gives the offense a lot of weapons options in different situations.
Many of the receivers were playing for the first time last fall so this spring was very important for their development. I believe most of them took advantage of that and it should show in the regular season.
I know after the Liberty Bowl everyone (including me) has high expectations for Jameon Lewis for his senior season. He really didn’t do anything outstanding this spring but as a veteran you could see him doing a lot of teaching to redshirt freshman Gabe Myles, who is making the transition to slot receiver from the secondary.
Lewis is a definite playmaker and once the lights come on this fall he will no doubt be ready. He has proven himself on the field but will likely receive a lot more attention from opposing defenses. One thing that will be different for most fans is that “Tubby” cut off his dreads which is the first time even I have seen him without them. Not sure if that makes much of a difference but at least there isn’t a threat of being tackled by them anymore.
Speaking of Myles, he has a phenomenal spring despite being hampered by an ankle injury the last few practices. Lewis will still get most of the reps in the slot but Myles is the future at that position. He’s much more physical than he was as a high school quarterback at Starkville and is dynamic with the ball in his hands. Once he gets the playbook and position figured out he’ll be a star.
I don’t think we saw the best from Fred Ross last season as a true freshman. Ross was injured early on in fall camp and then broke his collarbone late in the Arkansas game. He told me he was back at 100-percent this spring but I know he should be by the time fall camps opens again. Many expected Ross to fill Chad Bumphis’ shoes sharing the same physical characteristics. If he has the same type of career I think Mullen and Co. will take it in a heartbeat.
Brandon Holloway split his time this spring between receiver and the backfield. Holloway has world class speed but has been inconsistent catching the football since he arrived two years ago. I think that is what prompted his move to running back in order to get the ball to him more easily. But if Holloway can get a grasp (literally) of receiver he will be a dangerous deep threat.
Robert Johnson had the best spring of his career but as a fifth-year senior he should. Johnson was the go-to guy for quarterbacks, especially on third-and-medium range plays. Ro-Jo has almost grown into a tight end physically which makes him tough to tackle for smaller corners on the outside. He should be able to bull his way for a first down and keep the chains moving even if he catches the ball shy of the marker. I’m still puzzled why he’s a kick returner but his ability as a receiver goes without saying.
It was another important spring for Joe Morrow. The 6-foot-4 target has had some impressive springs and bowl practices in the past but has yet to have that breakout performance in a real game. Morrow is certainly capable but several big drops early on in his career seem to have shaken his confidence. I think he’s one big play away from putting all that in the past and going on to being what many thought he could be.
Shelby Christy redshirted last season and after seeing him in the spring I’m still not sure what to make of him at this point in his career. He has good size and is an impressive looking athlete but no one aspect of his game really stands out to me. I felt the same way during the recruiting process. He and former commit DeAndre Woods were the same receiver to me. I’ll keep my eye on Christy as he continues to develop.
De’Runnya Wilson was my sleeper signee heading into last season and he did not disappoint. I expected him to be a big-time receiver later on in his career once he gained some experience. Needless to say, he’s ahead of the curve by a lot Bear is a heck of an athlete with the rare combination of size, speed and hops. He’s still raw but has come a very long ways in a short amount of time. If he continues at that pace then the sky is the limit on his potential.
We didn’t get to see much of Jeremey Chappelle this spring. He participated in the first few practices but went missing for the final few weeks. We never got an explanation of what happened to him and it would only be speculation on my part to comment further. Chappelle had a huge spring last year but wasn’t much of a factor in the fall. He did have a huge catch in the Egg Bowl to setup a score.
I’ve always been impressed with how smooth Fred Brown runs his routes. After seeing him snag 10 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game, it gives me even more confidence in his abilities. Hopefully Brown has put his discipline issues behind him and won’t be getting kicked out of games for personal fouls anymore. If he keeps his head on his shoulders he could be a fine receiver for three years to come in Starkville.