By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State’s quarterbacks won’t be lacking for snaps this spring – because there are only two of them.
Tyler Russell and Dak Prescott will have it to themselves until signee Nick Schuessler arrives in the summer. MSU begins spring practices on Thursday, and the challenge for coach Dan Mullen is to “do a good job of balancing the arms, how much they’re throwing,” he said Tuesday.
Russell, a rising junior with 18 career games and four starts under his belt, enters the spring at less than 100 percent. He missed the Bulldogs’ Music City Bowl win over Wake Forest with a sprained MCL in his left knee.
Mullen said Russell did a lot of running Monday and should be OK for spring practices.
“I wouldn’t say he’s at 100 percent going into the spring, but he’s going to be, in our mind, full go doing everything that we need him to do,” Mullen said.
In splitting time with Chris Relf last fall, Russell completed 53.5 percent of his passes for 1,034 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions. Holding off Prescott, who redshirted last year, shouldn’t be terribly difficult for the Meridian native.
It’s certainly Russell’s job to lose.
“This is going to be kind of that next step,” Mullen said. “Now it’s his turn to kind of be the guy.”
MSU enters the spring with only a few injury concerns.
Offensive guard Tobias Smith is still recovering from an ACL injury, while safety Nickoe Whitley is coming back from a late-season ruptured Achilles’ tendon. Both will be “very limited” this spring, Mullen said.
“Tobias looks pretty good,” he said. “The trainers say he’s ahead of schedule, but it’s a guy that’s played football for us for a number of years. We don’t need to rush him back. Nickoe, a lot the same way.”
Also, offensive lineman Archie Muniz will be limited by a knee injury.
This opens the door for younger guys to get reps, like offensive lineman Justin Malone and safety Kendrick Market, both redshirt freshmen.
Mullen said receiver Michael Carr, a West Point product, has “quit” the team after a brief return in January.
“He just doesn’t really want to play football any more,” Mullen said.
Carr, who would have been a junior, left the team for personal reasons after the Bulldogs’ Oct. 29 game against Kentucky. During his MSU career, Carr had 11 catches for 164 yards and one touchdown.