Post spring center review

Jamaal Clayborn exited spring as the leading candidate to be the Bulldogs starting center. (Mississippi State)

Jamaal Clayborn exited spring as the leading candidate to be the Bulldogs starting center. (Mississippi State)

No position on the roster was depleted the way that center was at Mississippi State.

The Bulldogs lost all three players that snapped during games last year when Dillon Day, Archie Muniz and Ben Beckwith all graduated.

Offensive line coach John Hevesy was charged with the task of finding a replacement during bowl prep and spring drills. No matter who ends up emerging as the starter this fall, MSU will run a player out on the field that has never snapped in college.

The leading candidate for the job is junior Jamaal Clayborn. Clayborn has appeared in 11 games for the Bulldogs over the past two seasons as a reserve guard but started taking some reps at center during bowl practices.

The 6-foot-4, 315-pounder from Jackson admitted he hadn’t snapped since pee wee league but seemed like a natural. You could tell that he had worked on his snapping a lot between the time the season ended and spring practice started and rarely had snap that was off target.

Clayborn has the ability to maul over defenders on run blocking which should help open up the running game up the middle.

Junior Jocquell Johnson served as the back-up center during the spring. He too was shifted there after working as a guard and right tackle during his redshirt season a year ago. Johnson was a two-year starter at left tackle at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder from Jackson had a shoulder injury when he first arrived on campus but that appears to be corrected now. Johnson also had an excellent spring snapping the ball and can push Clayborn for the starting job when fall camp opens next month.

Walk-on Nick Proby spent the spring as the third team center. The 6-foot-1, 291-pound senior from D’Iberville saw action in one game last season after transferring in from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

Junior Devon Desper was signed as a high school center but it appears his snapping days are done and has a chance to be State’s starting right guard.

The Bulldogs signed three-star center Darryl Williams out of Bessemer, Ala., in February and is already on campus. At 6-foot-2, 305-pounds, there is a chance that Williams could play as a true freshman.

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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