STARKVILLE – Much of the concentration in Mississippi State’s first five bowl practices has gone to developing its younger players.
Those youngsters had one more opportunity to impress the coaching staff before game prep for the Liberty Bowl begins with a scrimmage inside Davis Wade Stadium Tuesday morning.
“These guys have worked hard all year and don’t get a whole lot of game reps in the stadium,” said coach Dan Mullen. “So we got a chance to see a lot of those guys get out there and play. Those are young guys who are going to be out here playing for us next year. It gave them an opportunity in a game situation here in the stadium.”
Freshman quarterback Damian Williams guided his offense into the end zone on three occasions. Williams completed 11 of 18 passes for 168 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions on the day. He threw a 4-yard touchdown to sophomore Joe Morrow and tossed touchdowns of 51 and 9-yards to freshman De’Runnya Wilson.
“This was great for my confidence,” Williams said. “I did pretty good out here today and it’s good momentum going into the bowl week.”
Wilson led the receiving corps with three catches for 78 yards and two touchdowns while sophomore Derrick Milton paced the ground game with 49 yards on 10 carries.
Junior walk-on quarterback Sam Cowart concluded the scrimmage with a 20-yard touchdown to freshman tight end B.J. Hammond.
Sophomore John Harris had a standout performance at defensive end with 13 stops, five tackles for loss, four sacks and a pass breakup.
Freshman defensive end Trent Simpson also had a sack while freshman defensive back Brandon Davis forced and recovered a fumble. Sophomore Tyrell Miller as well as freshmen Tolando Cleveland and Brandon Wells had an interception each.
The awards continue to roll in for senior guard Gabe Jackson.
The 6-foot-4, 340-pounder has been named to seven All-American teams. Jackson earned first team honors from Bleacher Report and was a second team selection by the Associated Press, Walter Camp Football Foundation, CBSSports.com, USA Today and Athlon Sports.
“It’s been good,” Jackson said. “I’ve just been accepting everything and have been grateful for everything.”
Jackson has started every game of his MSU career and has not allowed a sack as a senior.
Mississippi State added its sixth 2015 commitment Monday night as Ocala, Fla., safety Darrien McNair gave his pledge one day after receiving an offer from the Bulldogs.
The 6-foot-3, 219-pounder made 82 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, one sack and forced two fumbles for Trinity Catholic this past season as a junior.