Mullen taking close look at youngsters

By BRAD LOCKE / NEMS Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – It’s starting to dawn on Mississippi State’s young players just how close it is to being their time.
Coaches have been putting an emphasis on youth since Gator Bowl preparations began, and Day 4 was no different. As starters spent a lot of time looking on from the sidelines Monday, youngsters like defensive lineman Kaleb Eulls and linebacker Chris Hughes logged a lot of plays.
“I think when the seniors stand on the side, the younger guys look around and finally realize that it’s their time,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “They can’t defer to K.J. (Wright) and Chris (White) and (Pernell) McPhee any more. It is their time, and it’s already started now.”
One of the biggest voids for MSU in 2011 will be at linebacker, with White and Wright leaving. Hughes, Ferlando Bohanna and Christian Holmes will be among those stepping in.
It’s the same story on the offensive side of the ball and on special teams. Head coach Dan Mullen isn’t loading the young players down with too much, but he tested them a little Monday.
“We did a little bit more game situation, so instead of it being controlled, it was a down-and-distance deal,” Mullen said. “So they have to get used to playing a football game.”
MSU practices at 1:30 p.m. today and at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, then a youth-centric scrimmage will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Davis Wade Stadium. All three sessions are open to the public.
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or brad.locke@djournal.com.