Another ankle injury has sidelined Tobias Smith.
The redshirt freshman, Mississippi State’s presumptive starter at right guard, will be out of practice up to four weeks after undergoing surgery on his ankle Monday. Doctors inserted a wire to stabilize ligaments that he tore when his right ankle was sprained last week during practice.
Smith, a 6-foot-3, 300-pounder from Columbus, took a redshirt last season after breaking his left ankle.
“I think it’s just a little worse than they thought it’d be,” head coach Dan Mullen said. He added that even without the surgery, Smith’s rehab would’ve taken about four weeks.
Once he returns to practice, Smith will have about two weeks of limited work before he can think about playing. It’ll be mid- to late-September by then.
As for replacing Smith, Mullen said, “We’re putting a lot of people in there, just rolling them through. Whether we move people’s positions – we’re trying all kinds of different combinations on the line.”
Smith’s ankle is the only major health issue facing State so far during preseason camp. Starting left tackle Derek Sherrod sat out contact drills Tuesday to rest a pinched nerve in his knee, but he should be hitting again by today or Thursday.
The Bulldogs held only one session Tuesday – NCAA rules prohibit teams from holding multiple practices on consecutive days. They’ll have two sessions today.
MSU did some scrimmaging at the end of Tuesday’s practice, and Mullen thought the intensity was better than on Monday.
“What they have to do is learn to work when we’re not keeping score, they need to practice at that real high intensity level,” he said.
Waiting on the NCAA
– A team spokesman said MSU should get word by today on the academic eligibility of freshman Ricco Sanders, a receiver from Duncan, S.C. If and when he gets cleared, Mullen will throw him right into the mix of a thin receiving corps.
“He’s going to have a lot thrown at him immediately. How much will stick, we’ll see once it gets thrown at him.”
Not seeing red … yet
– With so many freshmen bound to contribute this season – mostly out of mere necessity – Mullen said he won’t start looking at who to redshirt until about the fifth game of the year.
State only has 76 players on scholarship, nine short of the NCAA-imposed limit. Mullen said he’ll likely award scholarships to a couple of deserving walk-ons before the season opener.
“When you have that sort of numbers, you need people to get through a season,” he said.
Contact Brad Locke at brad.locke@ djournal.com or 678-1571.
Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal