MSU NOTEBOOK: Bulldogs return 17 starters as practice begins

Dak Prescott was one of three healthy scholarship quarterbacks on the field Tuesday as MSU opened spring practices. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

Dak Prescott was one of three healthy scholarship quarterbacks on the field Tuesday as MSU opened spring practices. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

By Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Coming off its school-record fourth consecutive bowl appearance, Mississippi State returned to the practice fields on Tuesday for the first of 15 spring practice sessions.

The Bulldogs have 17 starters and 57 letter winners returning from last year’s squad that went 7-6 capped off by a 44-7 victory over Rice in the Liberty Bowl.

Tuesday’s practice saw MSU work in only shells and shorts and culminated with a light scrimmage.

“I like the energy and excitement that our guys have,” said MSU coach Dan Mullen. “They’re excited to be out there and play some football. We threw a lot out at guys today on both sides of the ball. The older guys picked up where we left off and the younger guys are trying to figure out what’s going on.”

The Bulldogs had three healthy scholarship quarterbacks behind center for Day 1 – unlike last spring, when Tyler Russell was the lone signal caller. Dak Prescott, Damian Williams and Nick Fitzgerald took reps guiding the team with the first, second and third offenses, respectively.

Position changes

State experimented with a few position changes during bowl preparations in December and a few of those stuck once spring rolled around. There were also a few new alterations added to the mix.

Offensively, Rufus Warren moved from tight end to tackle, B.J. Hammond from wide receiver to tight end, Archie Muniz from guard to center, Devon Desper from center to guard, Brandon Holloway from receiver to running back and Gabe Myles from cornerback to slot receiver.

On defense, Justin Cox shifted from cornerback to safety, Christian Holmes returned to linebacker from tight end, Trent Simpson slid inside from defensive end and Quadry Antoine and DeAndre Ward both went from safety to linebacker.

Back from injury

The Bulldogs had several players back in action after missing time during last season due to injury.

Linebacker Ferlando Bohanna returned after missing 12 games with a concussion that jeopardized his career. Wide receiver Fred Ross was back at work after breaking his collarbone against Arkansas as was tight end Gus Walley, who missed the entire season following Tommy John surgery.

Safety Jay Hughes and guard Justin Malone both went through drills but did not participate in the scrimmage after being out since the season opener.

Defensive tackles Kaleb Eulls and P.J. Jones both sat out of practice with foot injuries while wide receiver Shelby Christy was limited.

Linebacker Dee Arrington was not at Tuesday’s practice and his football career is in question after appearing in only three games last year.

“Right now it’s a medical issue with him,” Mullen said. “I’m not sure if he’ll be back next season or not. He might be done. All the issues he had with his hamstring, he just never was able to get over it. But that’s something to be seen for the future.”

logan.lowery@journalinc.com