By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State fielded one of the youngest teams in the Southeastern Conference with only 13 seniors.
Most of those veterans and starters have enjoyed a break during the first four workouts giving way to some of the underclassmen to get the majority of the reps.
“It’s really a tribute to the program and the kids because they get used to working bowl weeks,” said offensive coordinator Les Koenning. “You get those extra days to practice and I think that’s so critical.”
Koenning has been able to oversee two young quarterbacks this week that have evenly split reps during the scrimmage session at the end of each practice. True freshman Damian Williams played in only five games this season and Nick Fitzgerald just graduated from high school last Thursday and is already gaining experience at the college level.
“Nick is a guy who was in high school and now all of a sudden he gets to come in, learn the plays, go through meetings and get actual reps on the field.” Koenning said. “Damian gets more reps as well. We force fed him immensely and he grasped it really well. But as we get more reps, it’ll get him better and better.”
Harris standing out
Another former high school quarterback is also gaining experience on the defensive side of the ball. Freshman Dezmond Harris has performed well at linebacker despite a two year absence from playing in a live game.
Harris was a standout quarterback at McAdory (Ala.) High School but tore his ACL prior to his senior season. A redshirt this fall has allowed Harris to push his weight up, get stronger and fully recover from the injury.
“He’s a big, physical kid that can run,” said defensive coordinator Geoff Collins. “He’s got natural leadership ability and has stepped up as one of the leaders of the young class.”
Perkins’ final stand
Senior running back LaDarius Perkins has done a lot during his five years in Starkville but will suit up for the final time in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31.
A nagging ankle injury slowed down Perkins production this fall but has accumulated 4,180 all-purpose yards and 24 touchdowns during his career.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet that this is my last game,” Perkins said. “But going out with a bowl victory would mean a lot to me. Just being around my teammates right now at bowl practice, I’ve been around them so much that it’s going to be bittersweet.”
The Bulldog youngsters will get one final opportunity to prove themselves before game prep begins for Rice on Wednesday.
The team will hold an intersquad scrimmage inside Davis Wade Stadium at 10:35 a.m. this morning and is open to the public.