By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – During a three-on-three drill at Monday’s practice, Mississippi State receivers coach Angelo Mirando came out of nowhere and flung his body into the fray as a player was being tackled.
“He was a little rowdy because we were winning,” receiver Chris Smith said. With a chuckle, he added, “Coach Angelo’s a trip.”
At 25 years old, Mirando’s still young enough to mix it up with players, and he doesn’t look any older than most of them. He’s only four years removed from his senior year of college, when he was a quarterback at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland.
Mirando’s ability to connect to players on their level was one of many reasons head coach Dan Mullen saw fit to promote him in January. The former graduate assistant replaced Mark Hudspeth, who left to become head coach at Louisiana-Lafayette.
“I’m able to talk to him more,” Smith said. “I’m able to call him, like, ‘Coach, I need something. I need to do this, I’ve got something wrong, I’ve got a problem.’ And that just builds a relationship. He’s very cool, man.”
Building relationships is at the top of Mirando’s priority list.
“As a GA, you do work, but you never get really in-depth relationships with kids,” Mirando said. “I’ve developed deep relationships with some of these kids now. And it’s hard when issues happen, you feel bad for them, and you have to be strong about it. You just deal with stuff differently.”
Those relationships have depth because Mirando is able to command players’ respect. It’s a delicate dynamic that he works hard at preserving.
“When it’s time to get down to business, he’s all about business,” Smith said. “That’s what I love about him. When it’s time to be funny, he’ll be funny.”
His big chance
Mirando first joined Mullen in 2008 at Florida as a graduate assistant and continued in that role at MSU.
After Hudspeth left, Mirando was put in charge of the receiving corps during Gator Bowl preparations and coached on the field during the game, a 52-14 MSU win.
That game was essentially his job interview.
“He interviewed pretty good,” offensive coordinator Les Koenning said.
Promoting Mirando allowed Mullen to maintain continuity within the staff and avoided the inconvenience of having to teach the system to a new coach.
His age was of no concern to Mullen.
“He’s a very committed, very hard-working young guy,” Mullen said. “I have a lot of confidence in him.”
Mirando said he feels no added pressure to perform because of his youth.
“There’s pressure on old guys, young guys. Just go out there and coach your guys, that’s all you’ve got to do.”
Mirando is making a good deal more money these days. His GA pay was $12,000, and now he’s making $75,000.
He’s about to earn that salary. Mullen is entrusting Mirando with a receiving corps that has reached a critical point in its development.
For the first time in years, MSU has depth and experience at receiver, and it should be a strength in 2011.
Only Leon Berry is gone from last year’s group, so Mirando’s got plenty to work with. This is his big chance.
“How’d Dan Mullen become a head coach? Somebody gave him a chance,” Koenning said. “Those opportunities have to come around, and you go out and do the best you can do. … (Mirando’s) a tremendous young coach, and he’ll have the ability to further his career and keep going on.”