MSU Notebook: Bulldogs name captains

Mississippi State tight end Malcolm Johnson, left, and offensive lineman Dillon Day will be two of the Bulldogs' captains, along with fellow senior Jay Hughes, a safety. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Mississippi State tight end Malcolm Johnson, left, and offensive lineman Dillon Day will be two of the Bulldogs’ captains, along with fellow senior Jay Hughes, a safety. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

By Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Mississippi State has announced its team captains for the 2014 season.

Seniors Malcolm Johnson, Dillon Day and Jay Hughes received the honor after a team vote. The trio has started 39 career games and brings 98 games of leadership experience overall.

“They’re all fifth-year seniors and all committed to the program,” said MSU coach Dan Mullen. “Dillon, I think, is one class right now away from graduating and the other two already have their degrees. It just shows they are what our program is all about in the complete development of the individual. It also shows the respect their teammates have for them in that here’s guys that have done things right throughout their career.”

Johnson caught 30 passes as a tight end last season for 391 yards and two touchdowns while Day has started 34 of the last 39 games at center.

Hughes started the 2013 season at strong safety but ruptured his achilles tendon on the sixth-play of the opener and was lost for the year.

“They’re not all three household names or they wouldn’t be considered the biggest superstars on the team,” Mullen said. “But I think within our program when guys look at those guys and say ‘this is what our program stands for, this is what we’re looking for in guys in our program.’ They kind of fit that mode and it’s great that our team recognizes that.”

Mullen stated that 26 different players received votes to be a team captain this fall with Johnson, Day and Hughes garnering the most votes from their peers.

Too close to call

Walk-on kickers Evan Sobiesk and Westin Graves are still locked in a battle for the starting job and there is a possibility both could be used in the Bulldogs’ season opener against Southern Miss on Saturday.

“We can’t simulate that situation for them to see how they’re going to perform in the deal,” Mullen said. “If it is still basically dead-even, we might rotate them for that first series to start the game off and see who is going to perform in that stadium when that pressure hits.”

Sobiesk, a sophomore from Hattiesburg, made three of his six attempts in 2013 with a long of 38-yards. Graves is a true freshman from Jackson Prep who converted two of his four tries during spring scrimmages.

In the booth

Mullen made only one change to his on-field coaching staff during the offseason, bringing in former Utah quarterback and offensive coordinator Brian Johnson to replace quarterbacks coach and coordinator Les Koenning.

Johnson will also occupy Koenning’s spot in the coaches booth on game day while running game coordinator John Hevesy and passing game coordinator Billy Gonzales will both remain on the sideline with Mullen calling plays.

logan.lowery@journalinc.com