Know what the theme here is going to be the next few days? Linebackers. Because I talked to a bunch of them after today's practice, the fourth of the spring. I also spoke with linebackers coach Geoff Collins.
Tomorrow's story is about filling the hole at middle linebacker. Running at that spot are Benardrick McKinney and Ferlando Bohanna, but of course all of the linebackers have to know every position.
One guy who's about gotten it all down pat is rising junior Deontae Skinner. He's the starting strongside guy but will give up quite a few snaps to Matthew Wells. Skinner has shown a ton of promise, and Collins likes the direction he's taking.
"He's playing the sam, he's playing the mike, he's playing the joker, and at each spot he knows everything that he's doing," Collins said. "There's no dropoff in performance, and he's really become a leader of the defense and the whole team."
I had a good chat with Skinner and will have some video from that for you in the near future. (If you're wondering what the joker is, it's a kind of drop-rush defensive end.)
I also spoke with Chris Hughes, who was limited last season by a groin injury. He's also had some off-the-field issues, including an arrest last summer, and says he's done a lot of growing up lately.
"I've been through a lot," he said. "I feel like I'm probably one of the most wise people on our team, as a young guy anyway. And I try to learn from all my mistakes and try to translate it to the field."
• More linebacker stuff later. As for today's practice, a good bit of it was conducted in the rain, and it got pretty heavy out there for a while.
"I didn't really notice it that much today," coach Dan Mullen said. "You've got to get used to practicing and playing in it. They make us play in it. I don't think it was anything that had an effect on practice in a bad way. I thought it was more of an effect on the teaching way of practice."
I don't have a lot to share with you in the way of observations, but I did see some very nice pass defense during team drills from safety Louis Watson, linebacker Cam Lawrence and linebacker Matthew Wells, who intercepted Dak Prescott.
MSU will get back to it Saturday, about 11 a.m., and it will do some scrimmaging for the first time this spring.
"It'll be more of a regular practice with a little bit of scrimmaging at the end," Mullen said.