MSU NOTEBOOK: Mullen varies camp routine

Former NFL great Jerome Bettis visited Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen and his players last week. (Twitter.com/CoachDanMullen)

Former NFL great Jerome Bettis visited Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen and his players last week. (Twitter.com/CoachDanMullen)

By Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Enduring two-a-days during training camp a month before the opening game can get repetitive.

Mississippi State found a way to break-up the monotony with a few outside-the-box activities.

Friday night, during the Bulldogs’ regularly scheduled team meeting, a special guest arrived. Cornerbacks coach Deshea Townsend secretly snuck in his friend and former teammate with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jerome Bettis, to speak to the team.

“His whole speech was basically what we tell our guys on a daily basis about hard work, sacrifice and commitment,” said coach Dan Mullen. “If you’re willing to work hard and sacrifice then you’ll have success and that’s the path he followed.”

Townsend and Bettis were both part of the Steelers’ Super Bowl XL squad.

On Sunday, MSU was treated to a steak dinner by the Mississippi Cattleman’s Association in the fourth annual “Beefing Up the Bulldogs” event. The players interacted with livestock that was brought to the Leo Seal Football Complex including cows, goats and horses.

Several players went horseback riding including 330-pound defensive tackle Nick James, who was featured in a video on ESPN’s College Football Live.

James later knocked off three-time defending champion Kaleb Eulls in the hay bale toss. James heaved a bale 24 feet, 10-inches in a tiebreaker.

Robinson tears ACL

The Bulldogs’ plans to start Damien Robinson at right offensive tackle took a bad turn when the senior tore his ACL during Friday’s scrimmage and will miss the 2014 season.

The 6-foot-8, 320-pound former four-star prospect from Olive Branch has appeared in 37 career games.

Robinson was listed as a co-starter along with junior Justin Malone. Mullen mentioned Cole Carter, Justin Senior and Rufus Warren as contenders for the position as well.

Walk-on no more

Sunday was also a day to remember for Mississippi State’s DeAndre Ward.

During a routine team meeting, Mullen recognized Ward as being the walk-on most valuable player during training camp then surprised the sophomore linebacker by handing him an envelope containing a message that read “you are now on scholarship.”

Ward got a standing ovation from his teammates.

“He’s a guy that’s done a good job working hard in the classroom, had an unbelievable work ethic in the weight room and found a role on our special teams during this training camp,” Mullen said.

The 6-foot, 210-pounder from Wetumpka, Ala., began his career as a safety and appeared in two games for the Bulldogs last season.

Cooper to Co-Lin

Former three-star linebacker Deshon Cooper went through camp at MSU but was ruled ineligible by the NCAA.

The 6-foot-2, 209-pounder from Atlanta has enrolled and will play at Copiah-Lincoln Community College for the next two seasons.

He’ll be teammates with Bulldog commitments Donald Gray, Jonathan Calvin and Lashard Durr with the Wolfpack.

Mullen said tight end signee Ravian Pierce is working to become eligible in the spring.

logan.lowery@journalinc.com