By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – The big audition is tonight.
Actually, it’s been going on for the past week. Mississippi State’s young players have had the chance to show coaches what they can do when given first- and second-team reps in practice. At 5 p.m. today, they’ll go under the lights at Davis Wade Stadium for a scrimmage.
The Bulldogs will then dive fully into game preparations for the Music City Bowl against Wake Forest. And at some point, MSU coaches will sit down, review the film, and see who deserves consideration for a bigger role next season.
“The best audition you have is the one you do every day,” defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said. “So they’re getting a chance to audition for more playing time, the respect of their peers, and when we go into spring where we start slotting guys throughout the summer and going into the regular season.”
When asked if any young players in particular have stood out during recent practices, coach Dan Mullen wouldn’t mention any names. But junior defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, an All-American, cited the play of linemates Kaleb Eulls, Corvell Harrison-Gay, John Harris, P.J. Jones and Curtis Virges.
On offense, a player to watch is freshman receiver Joe Morrow. He hasn’t played this season, but the 6-foot-4, 205-pounder has the makings of a big-time threat, which MSU has lacked in recent years.
Receiver Chad Bumphis, a junior, is eager to see Morrow and others take the field tonight.
“I’m ready to see them play, especially on the big field under the lights,” Bumphis said. “It’s going to be different for them, but I’m excited.”
Thin at QB
As for quarterbacks, with Tyler Russell nursing a sore knee and Dylan Favre having left the program, only two QBs will be getting snaps today: senior Chris Relf and freshman Dak Prescott.
“Chris will get a couple of reps, and Dak will be exhausted,” said Mullen.
Russell is expected to play in the Dec. 30 bowl game, but Mullen said he probably won’t be 100 percent by then.
Maiden leaves team
Freshman defensive tackle James Maiden has left the team and intends to transfer, Mullen told reporters Thursday. Maiden (6-4, 270), who’s from Woodville and played at Wilkinson County High School, did not see the field this fall.
Mullen said Maiden was homesick and tried to leave in the middle of the season, but coaches talked him in to staying for the entire semester.