I was interviewing new football coach Dan Mullen early this afternoon for a profile that will appear next week, and one thing we talked about was the players getting used to his methods and his expectations for the program. He said he expects some players to leave during this breakin-in period.
"We’re going to have some attrition; there’s going to be some guys leaving the program," Mullen said. "And a lot of that is, they signed on with Coach (Sylvester) Croom and what his program is going to be all about, and it’s a different program from what they had here before."
Then just moments ago, we learned that running back/defensive back Montario "Tojo" Patterson, who would've been a redshirt freshman, has left the team. All Mullen would say about this specific situation came in a release: "In conversations with Montario this week, he has decided to pursue opportunities away from the Mississippi State football team. We wish him the best in the future and will help him in any way we can."
We don't really know why Patterson left, but Mullen told me that the attrition he mentioned will be mainly due to how tight and tough a ship he's running.
"From top to bottom, everything’s different, and so when you look at those things, some of those guys, they’re not willing to put in the time or the sacrifices or all the things and demands that we’re asking of them for us to build a championship program.
"I understand that with some of these guys. (They say) 'I’m with coach Croom, I didn’t think it was going to be this tough of a program,' but it is now for a lot of these guys. That’s just our program."
Patterson, from Biggersville, is the second player to leave the team this spring, with cornerback Anthony Johnson recently deciding to transfer. Add those two to the absences of Arceto Clark and Maurice Langston (suspended after arrests), and MSU is becoming extremely short-handed. I guess the pruning metaphor is appropriate here: Cutting away the bad so the good can blossom.