By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State will hold the first of three scrimmages inside Davis Wade Stadium this spring at 11 a.m. today.
Although the Bulldogs return 18 starters and 57 letterwinners, head coach Dan Mullen wants to see how his team responds in that environment.
“I want to see who can play,” Mullen said. “Get the coaches out of the way and let guys go make plays in the stadium. A lot of guys have played in there and what I want to see from them is good football. I don’t want to see the defense dominating because the offense was bad or vise versa. I want to see good football being played and if they do dominate then that’s a great team.”
Today will also be an opportunity for some of the redshirt freshmen and midyear transfers to prove their worth on the game day turf as well.
“A lot of young guys will get an opportunity in a live situation to go make plays and show what they can do,” Mullen said.
MSU will scrimmage again on April 5 and hold its annual spring game on April 12 at noon.
High hopes for Harris
Defensive coordinator Geoff Collins hopes redshirt freshman Dezmond Harris becomes the next Benardrick McKinney in his linebacker corps.
Like McKinney, Harris was an underrated recruit who was a high school quarterback. After sitting out his initial season, McKinney went on to earn Freshman All-SEC honors and led the team in tackles last year as a sophomore.
Harris seems to be following a similar type of path and is having a solid spring so far.
“That kid is awesome,” Collins said of Harris. “He’s 6-foot-3, 232-pounds right now and is one of the fastest kids on the team. He’ll be the first one in the building and the last one to leave studying. He’s like a sponge with the coaches and I’m excited to see how he does as the spring continues.”
Senior defensive tackles Kaleb Eulls and P.J. Jones have missed most of spring drills with foot injuries, leaving extra reps and also opportunity for younger players inside.
Sophomores Chris Jones, Nelson Adams and Nick James along with senior Curtis Virges have seen their roles increase along the defensive line in Eulls and P.J. Jones’ absence.
“If there’s a good side (to the injuries) it’s allowed guys to get more reps,” said defensive line coach David Turner. “We’ve really got a 1A and a 1B group and right now the B group is getting the A reps and the C group is getting the B reps. I’d rather have (Eulls and P.J. Jones) out here working but it is what it is and they’re doing what they can.”
P.J. Jones, of Tupelo, practiced for the first time this spring on Friday while still recovering from a foot injury suffered last fall.