By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – After just one workout with incoming freshmen Chad Bumphis and Tyler Russell, Brandon McRae likes what he sees.
McRae, a senior who led Mississippi State in receiving last season, had an informal workout session with the highly rated signees on Wednesday. Bumphis, a receiver from Tupelo, is expected to get immediate playing time; Russell, a quarterback from Meridian, could vie for the starting job this August.
McRae said Bumphis was catching on quickly to the pass routes, and Russell was better than expected.
“I didn’t think his arm would be that powerful,” McRae said. “I had to tell him to turn it down a little bit.”
Those two were among freshmen to begin summer classes at State on Tuesday, and they’ll be getting plenty of instruction from the likes of McRae this summer. Coaches can’t have contact with the players, so it’s up to guys like McRae and junior center J.C. Brignone to reiterate coach Dan Mullen’s message.
“I think they’re going to have a big eye-opening experience with some of the things we’re doing. I think that’s where the older guys become important,” Brignone said. “Just like when I was a freshman, and the older guys were there, like DelJuan Robinson and them, and they were there to pick me up when I was ready to quit and go back home.”
MSU now has seven true freshmen on campus, with defensive back Cameron Lawrence and offensive lineman Sam Watts having enrolled in January.
Senior quarterback Tyson Lee hasn’t had a chance to catch up with Russell yet, but he’s glad to see so many new faces on campus.
“The earlier you can get here,” Lee said, “the better.”
That’s especially true for a team that’s starting over and expects many of its freshmen to contribute right away.
“The thing is to get away from the high school aspect and realize that it’s big ball now, it’s SEC ball, it’s the best caliber you can get into,” Brignone said.
McRae, Elliott recovering
– McRae said he’s nearing full recovery from the broken leg he suffered against Ole Miss last season.
“I don’t have no problems cutting or anything,” he said.
Sophomore running back Robert Elliott, who played four games last year before tearing his ACL and LCL against LSU, looking better, too.
“Rob was able to do drills the other day, moving laterally and cutting, and he looked really, really good,” Lee said.
Neither McRae nor Elliott participated in contact drills during spring practice, and neither played in the spring game.
Richards off team
– Kicker Eric Richards is on a permanent medical scholarship and will no longer be on the team, a team spokesman announced Thursday.
Richards, who was going to be a redshirt sophomore, was dogged by injuries during his first two seasons.
At Warren Central High School, he was one of the top-rated punter-kickers in the nation.