Braxton Hoyett knew this spring would be an important one for him to step forward on the depth chart.
Mississippi State graduated three defensive tackles in Kaleb Eulls, P.J. Jones and Curtis Virges and Hoyett decided the would go after one of those vacancies.
“I knew I would have an opportunity this spring,” Hoyett said. “We had three guys leaving and I knew I had to have the mindset that I have to play this year. I can’t be sitting on the sidelines. I knew I had to attack every practice if I wanted to be out there on the field.”
Hoyett spent most of the spring working with the second team and recorded eight tackles, two for loss and one sack during the Bulldogs three scrimmages inside Davis Wade Stadium. He had two tackles and a sack during the spring game.
“The spring was pretty good and I learned a lot of things,” Hoyett said. “I’ve gotten better since I first got here and have moved up on the depth chart. Coach (David) Turner says that he sees a lot of potential in me. He tells me that it’s never a talent issue with me, I just have to be consistent with my work.”
The 6-foot-3, 300-pounder had an up-and-down redshirt season. Hoyett quickly ballooned up to 315 soon after arriving but was able to drop 15 pounds of excess weight with the help of the trainers.
“I had to do a lot of development,” Hoyett said. “I had to get in the weight room and get stronger. I had to go outside and run so I could get faster. I feel like that helped me a lot. During the offseason it was a mindset thing of if I wanted to do this and it helped me out in the long run.”
The weight loss assisted Hoyett in catching up with the speed of playing in the Southeastern Conference and getting used to the up-tempo offense MSU runs while playing on the scout team last fall.
“The tempo is really fast,” Hoyett said. “When I first got here that tempo was really going and seemed like a play was being snapped every five seconds. I couldn’t handle that. But it got me in better shape. It was a difference competition level but I got used to that.”
Hoyett was slowed by knee surgery in September that kept him off the practice field for several weeks but was full go by the start of spring.
The Pelham, Ala., native likes the changes the Bulldogs have made defensively under new coordinator Manny Diaz and feels like the defensive line will play a big part in their success.
“It’s a big transition,” Hoyett said of changing defensive coordinators. “I feel like we’re making a lot more plays with this defense along the front. We’re moving a lot quicker along the d-line and that’s why I really like it.”
Hoyett was a three-star prospect in high school and made 73 tackles, nine for loss, three sacks and recovered a fumble as a senior at Pelham. He participated in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic and earned scholarship offers from Miami, Samford, South Alabama and UAB.
After spending a year in Starkville, Hoyett is happy with his decision.
“I love it here and wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Hoyett said. “I’m glad that I picked the right place to come.”