It is possible that Mississippi State may have no choice but to start true freshman Damian Williams at quarterback this weekend against Arkansas.
Both Dak Prescott and Tyler Russell are suffering from shoulder injuries and Williams is the only other scholarship signal caller on the Bulldogs’ roster.
How did the depth chart become so depleted?
Several things transpired over the last few years to leave MSU in this position.
Rewind to the end of the 2011 regular season, when it was announced that redshirt freshman Dylan Favre was transferring at the end of the semester. That left Chris Relf as the lone healthy quarterback on the roster for the Music City Bowl, with Russell hobbled and Prescott redshirting.
The Bulldogs did not intend to sign a quarterback in the 2012 class, but Favre’s departure sent State scrambling to find one, just two months before signing day. Two-star prospect Nick Schuessler was signed and enrolled at the university the following June.
Schuessler lasted less than a month before he quit to walk on at Clemson for the fall semester, leaving only Russell and Prescott as the Bulldogs’ only scholarship quarterbacks last season.
To make up for the loss of both Favre and Schuessler, the Bulldogs opted to ink a pair of prospects in the 2013 class. Mississippi State signed Williams and four-star Cord Sandberg in February but even that did not work out as planned.
Sandberg, one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country, was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the third round (89th overall) and received a $775,000 signing bonus plus the cost of four years college tuition at MSU.
Sandberg signed in June and began his pro baseball career, opting not play football for the Bulldogs this fall.
Williams was more of an afterthought in State’s signing class, a three-star prospect who flipped from a Southern Miss commitment in late January. Williams threw for 2,748 yards and 26 touchdowns and ran for 932 yards and 23 more scores during his prep career. He led Archbishop Rummel to a perfect 14-0 record and a Louisiana Class 5A State Championship last year.
When Dan Mullen arrived at State five years ago, he was expected to help the program finally find an NFL-caliber quarterback. After all, his resume features two No. 1 overall NFL draft picks and a pair of Heisman Trophy winners boasting names such as Alex Smith, Tim Tebow and Cam Newton.
Mullen has yet to reach that same success at quarterback that he had at Utah, Florida or even Bowling Green while with the Bulldogs. It’s been an uphill battle – and if Russell or Prescott are unable to recover quickly then it will continue this weekend.
Logan Lowery (logan.lowery @journalinc.com) covers MSU for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily at insidemsusports.com.