Elijah Staley will give basketball another go.
The Mississippi State quarterback saw his dual-sport attempt end after only a few practices with the basketball team last December. Staley had a nagging knee injury from high school repaired and missed all of basketball season and was limited in spring football practice.
“I’m going to be juggling both again,” Staley said in an exclusive interview with the Daily Journal. “It’s something that I really wanted to do. That’s why I came here so I’m ready for that.”
Staley, a redshirt freshman, is listed third on the Bulldogs’ depth chart at quarterback. He appeared in two games during the regular season completing 3 of 5 passes for 51 yards and a touchdown while rushing three times for 18 yards.
The 6-foot-6, 248-pound southpaw is expected to battle classmate Nick Fitzgerald for the starting job in the spring.
Staley has the blessing of football coach Dan Mullen to continue pursuing both sports.
“I’ve met with coach Mullen about it and he’s excited,” Staley said. “He’s ready to see what I can do.”
The Marietta, Ga., native was initially committed to play football at Vanderbilt but flipped his commitment to MSU when Mullen and former basketball coach Rick Ray gave him an opportunity to play both. Ray had offered Staley a scholarship as strictly a basketball player as well.
Staley was a first team All-State by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and Georgia Sportswriters Association at Class 6A powerhouse Wheeler, where he averaged 18 points and 9.5 rebounds as a junior.
New MSU basketball coach Ben Howland met with Staley after the Bulldogs’ regular season football finale against Ole Miss.
“They’re short on scholarship players on the team and I know I can contribute,” Staley said. “I know what I can do as long as I get in shape. I’m probably going to play the stretch four because they’re not the biggest team. I’ve been working out for about a week now and my knee feels fine. I can jump again so I’m not nervous at all.”
Like last year, Staley plans to practice football full-time and will likely not travel to basketball road games until after the Bulldogs’ bowl game.
Staley’s No. 14 is now being worn by freshman Malik Newman so he will sport No. 33 on the court this season.