Wednesday practice notes

Junior wide receiver Donald Gray runs a route during Mississippi State's first spring practice on Wednesday. (Kelly Price/ Mississippi State)

Junior wide receiver Donald Gray runs a route during Mississippi State’s first spring practice on Wednesday. (Kelly Price/ Mississippi State)

Mississippi State conducted its first spring football practice on Wednesday. Oddly enough, the Bulldogs will break for 13 days before practicing again.

Here are a few notes I jotted down in my notebook while I was at practice…

Junior wide receiver Donald Gray had the best day of anyone in my opinion. Gray simply caught just about everything that came his way which had to be an encouraging sight for the four quarterbacks vying to be the new starter.

With pro day being held Thursday morning, there were a ton of former players on-hand to watch practice. The ones I saw were Kendrick Market, Preston Smith, Nick Griffin, Taveze Calhoun, De’Runnya Wilson, Curtis Virges, Joe Morrow, Ryan Brown, Robert Johnson, Darrion Hutcherson and Dak Prescott.

There were a few number changes to note: Senior defensive back Brandon Davis was wearing No. 26, sophomore linebacker Josiah Phillips was wearing No. 38 and sophomore safety Brandon Bryant was wearing No. 1.

Junior linebacker Dezmond Harris and senior safety Deontay Evans were both limited at practice due to injury but both went through a majority of the drills. Head coach Dan Mullen also stated after practice that sophomore quarterback Elijah Staley was also dealing with a little hamstring issue. Staley also went through most of practice.

Redshirt freshman running back Nick Gibson is still wearing No. 21. No one has worn that number in a game since the late Keffer McGee.

Senior defensive tackle Nick James is looking really trim, the smallest I’ve ever seen him. He’s still listed at 325 on the roster but I’d bet he’s closer to the 305-310 range right now.

Senior wide receiver Fred Ross was not at practice. I asked Mullen afterwards about his whereabouts and he told me that Ross had surgery earlier in the day on his groin and would miss all of spring.

Senior Will Coleman and redshirt freshmen Anfernee Mullins were both defensive ends last year but both played standing up on the outside and even dropped back into pass coverage. I asked new defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon about that and he said both players were at a position he calls “viper”.

The defense played a 3-4 front exclusively on the first day. I asked both Mullen and Sirmon about that but each said the Bulldogs would be multiple and were just installing the 3-4 on Day 1. I suspect that might be what MSU uses more of but we shall see as spring continues.

True freshman C.J. Morgan-Walker worked at safety.

Running backs coach Greg Knox chewed out Gibson for fumbling the football during a drill.

True freshman tight end Dontae Jones is massive. Jones is listed at 6-foot-4, 250-pounds but I’d bet the farm he’s over that weight wise. I covered him some at Louisville and he’s much bigger than what he was playing wide receiver there.

The team practiced in only helmets, jerseys and shorts.

During 7-on-7, senior wide receiver Fred Brown laid out to haul in a 35-yard pass from junior quarterback Damian Williams.

Staley threw a perfect pass right over a defender into the arms of sophomore tight end Justin Johnson for a gain of 30 yards.

Williams connected with freshman tight end Christian Roberson for a 25-yard gain.

Williams also had passes broken up by junior cornerback Lashard Durr and sophomore safeties Jamal Peters and Mark McLaurin.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Nick Tiano hit Gray for a 40-yard gain.

During the scrimmage, Williams had a pass batted down by senior cornerback Cedric Jiles. Jiles later knocked down a Tiano pass as well.

McLaurin broke up a pass by sophomore quarterback Nick Fitzgerald.

Tiano was intercepted by junior defensive tackle Tre Brown at the line of scrimmage.

Tiano had a 30-yard scramble. He was quick to tuck the ball and run.

Redshirt freshman linebacker Leo Lewis had a tackle for loss on senior running back Ashton Shumpert.

As good as Gray was on Wednesday, junior wide receiver Gabe Myles was the opposite. Myles uncharacteristically dropped a lot of balls.

Sophomore running back Dontavian Lee made a couple of nice runs up the gut.

Senior defensive lineman Torrey Dale batted down a Tiano screen pass.

Senior linebacker DeAndre Ward and sophomore linebacker Gerri Green combined to tackle senior running back Brandon Holloway deep in the backfield on an option play.

Sophomore wide receiver Jesse Jackson made an incredible over the shoulder catch for a 30-yard gain on a pass from Williams. It was the best individual play I saw in the first practice.

Williams completed a pass to himself as the ball slipped out of his hands. He did manage to pick up a couple of yards too.

Depth Chart

1st Team Offense

QB- Damian Williams

RB- Ashton Shumpert

WR- Donald Gray

WR- Fred Brown

WR- Malik Dear

TE- Justin Johnson

LT- Justin Senior

LG- Deion Calhoun

C- Jamaal Clayborn

RG- Devon Desper

RT- Martinas Rankin

1st Team Defense

DE- Torrey Dale

DT- Nick James

DE- A.J. Jefferson

LB- J.T. Gray

LB- Richie Brown

LB- Leo Lewis

LB- Will Coleman

CB- Cedric Jiles

CB- Tolando Cleveland

S- Brandon Bryant

S- Kivon Coman

2nd Team Offense

QB- Nick Fitzgerald

RB- Aeris Williams

WR- Jesse Jackson

WR- Deddrick Thomas

WR- Gabe Myles

TE- Aaron Hamaker

LT- Jocquell Johnson

LG- Ronald Cochran

C- Harrison Moon

RG- Darryl Williams

RT- Elgton Jenkins

2nd Team Defense

DE- Cory Thomas

DT- Nelson Adams

DE- Johnathan Calvin

LB- Traver Jung

LB- Tim Washington

LB- Gerri Green

LB- DeAndre Ward

CB- Jamoral Graham

CB- Lashard Durr

S- Jamal Peters

S- Mark McLaurin

3rd Team Offense

QB- Nick Tiano

RB- Nick Gibson

WR- Jonnas Spivey

WR- Keith Mixon

WR- No. 16 walk-on

TE- Christian Roberson

LT- Lawrence Brown

LG- Rodney Lacey

C- Brett Armour

RG- Michael Story

RT- Evans Wilkerson

3rd Team Defense

DE- Grant Harris

DT- Tre Brown

DE- Fletcher Adams

LB- Allen Perkins

LB- Josiah Phillips

LB- Kelan Chairs

LB- Anfernee Mullins

CB- Chris Stamps

CB- Maurice Smitherman

S- Zak Neary

S- C.J. Morgan-Walker


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.

Posted in Football Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Want Email Updates? Warning... We Update Often

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 635 other subscribers