Thursday practice notes

Nick Fitzgerald worked with the Bulldogs during bowl prep and is practicing this spring after graduating high school a semester early. (Logan Lowery/ Daily Journal)

Nick Fitzgerald worked with the Bulldogs during bowl prep and is practicing this spring after graduating high school a semester early. (Logan Lowery/ Daily Journal)

Today was the annual coaches’ clinic at Mississippi State when area high school coaches spend a day working with the Bulldogs staff. There were hundreds of them at practice this afternoon.

In addition to the high school coaches, there was one familiar face on hand as well. Former Ole Miss head coach Ed Orgeron attended MSU’s practice and served as the keynote speaker at the coaches’ clinic. Having been a beat writer for Rebels early in my career, I covered Orgeron’s time in Oxford from start to finish. I never thought I’d be at the same practice with him again but I guess you can never say never.

I asked Dan Mullen after practice how the invitation to Orgeron came about and he said the two of them actually worked on the same staff for two days at Syracuse where John Hevesy was also on staff in 1997.

Some of the former MSU players that I saw that were back as high school coaches were Joey Sanders, Casey Welch and Austin Wilbanks.

Rising junior quarterback Dak Prescott started the scrimmage portion of practice with an early 80-yard touchdown toss to senior wide receiver Robert Johnson.

Sophomore defensive tackle Chris Jones left practice early on Thursday and therefore did not participate during the scrimmage.

Sophomore defensive end A.J. Jefferson had a sack. Later in the scrimmage he broke up a pass by sophomore Damian Williams at the line of scrimmage that was nearly intercepted for a touchdown by senior defensive tackle Curtis Virges.

Sophomore defensive tackle Jordan Washington had a pair of sacks.

Freshman linebacker Kelan Chairs and sophomore linebacker DeAndre Ward each had a strip and fumble recovery.

Junior defensive end John Harris tackled redshirt freshman running back Trey Braswell in the backfield for a loss.

Sophomore running back Ashton Shumpert had a nice 35-yard run juking guys all over the field. Later in the practice the ran sophomore defensive tackle Nick James slap over on a carry. The two hit head to head but it was the big 325-pounder that got the worse end of the collision. It reminded me a lot of Shumpert’s cousin, William Shumpert, who was a fullback that hit so hard it became known as being “Shumped”. Well, James got “Shumped” today.

We interviewed MSU baseball coach John Cohen earlier in the afternoon prior to baseball practice but Cohen stopped by to watch a few minutes of football practice.

I noticed that senior center Dillon Day had his long blonde locks in a pony tail today. Had it been a real game, Day would’ve definitely been flagged for holding as James blasted deep into the backfield and got a quarterback hurry. The only thing that kept James from obliterating the quarterback was a grab of the jersey by Day.

James later had a pass break-up at the line of scrimmage and did the robot dance afterwards. If he makes a sack or another big play on Saturday’s this fall the referee’s might as well get ready to pull out the penalty flag.

Junior cornerback Will Redmond had an excellent pass deflection going one-on-one in coverage with sophomore receiver De’Runnya Wilson.

Junior defensive end Ryan Brown gobbled up senior running back Nick Griffin in the backfield for a 5-yard loss.

Freshman Nick Fitzgerald had a strong quarterack draw to the left side that picked up about 25-yards towards the close of the scrimmage.

Depth chart:

First team offense:

QB Dak Prescott

RB Nick Griffin

WR Robert Johnson

WR Jameon Lewis

WR De’Runnya Wilson

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 Nick James

DT Nelson Adams

DE Preston Brown

LB Benardrick McKinney

LB Matthew Wells

LB Beniquez Brown

CB Taveze Calhoun

CB Jamerson Love

S Justin Cox

S Kendrick Market

Second team offense:

QB Damian Williams

RB Brandon Holloway

WR Fred Brown

WR Gabe Myles

WR Fred Ross

TE Gus Walley

LT Justin Senior

LG Kent Flowers

C Archie Muniz

RG Devon Desper

RT Rufus Warren

Second team defense:

DE A.J. Jefferson

DT Jordan Washington

DT Curtis Virges

DE Torrey Dale

LB Christian Holmes

LB Dezmond Harris

LB Zach Jackson

CB Cedric Jiles

CB Tolando Cleveland

S Deontay Evans

S Kivon Coman

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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