By NEMS Daily Journal
College football season is getting closer. You could feel it in Oxford and Starkville today. Parrish Alford and Brad Locke were there to pass along all the details.
From Brad Locke in Starkville with Mississippi State …
The first of two open practices was held this morning. MSU is doing split-squad work, with the second session set for 7 p.m. We spoke with a bunch of folks afterward, and I’ll link up some videos later on. For now, some highlights.
• Starting right guard Tobias Smith, who’s recovering from a knee injury, spoke with us. He was limited, participating in position drills drills but not in 11-on-11 team work. Smith said he feels fine and expects to be ready for the season opener.
“Late summer I started to feel pretty good, and now I’m just limited in some things, but when it comes time to get back in the swing of things, the full swing, they’ll have me in there where I can get ready to go before it’s time,” Smith said.
• Safety Nickoe Whitley, who ruptured his Achilles’ tendon late last season, was running around like a fully healthy player. He intercepted a tipped pass and generally played well.
• Cornerback Corey Broomfield was on the sideline in a red jersey and did not participate today.
• Tyler Russell and walk-on Jamil Golden were the quarterbacks this morning, and both looked strong. Russell was accurate on the whole, but the defensive backs made a lot of good plays even on well-thrown balls. Golden joined up over the summer, and if nothing else, he’s athletic and throws a decent ball. He hit Sam Williams on the last play of team drills for a touchdown; it was a nice arcing throw over Jiles.
From Parrish Alford in Oxford with Ole Miss …
Thoughts and observations from this morning’s practice. …
The first observation is to make sure to bring a roster tomorrow. Lots of guys getting work at running back, so not a lot of reps for any one guy today, including Randall Mackey, who made some news Friday with Hugh Freeze’s announcement that Mackey would move to running back.
On one particular play the ball was snapped and Randall Mackey went to block. That’s probably never happened before in his career.
Freshmen I’Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton were in the mix and did some good things, but on this first day of their college careers did nothing that caused me to make All-American predictions. Mathers, the bigger of the two, showed some elusiveness on one move after a short catch.
One of the interesting moves of the day was the time devoted to cornerback Senquez Golson with the first team. In the video above Freeze calls Golson an SEC athlete. Clearly he’s trying to get Golson ready. “He’s athletic, and you’ve got to have that kind of speed,” Freeze said. “He didn’t go through spring with us, and we’re making a conscious effort to try and catch him up.”
Neither Barry Brunetti nor Bo Wallace had a particularly great day in the quarterback race. Obviously it’s very early and hard to tell a great deal without the pads, but for the first day they both kind of looked like they did much of the spring. Wallace was slightly ahead in the passing game. He completed a nice deep ball to freshman Cody Core. Core had two defenders on him and made the catch. It was ruled that Core caught the ball out of bounds, but there was great enthusiasm for the play. Brunetti had a couple of balls batted at the line of scrimmage.
Read more in Sunday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.