BY LOGAN LOWERY
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State true freshman Ashton Shumpert made the trip to Houston last week but did not see the field.
It turns out the former Tupelo and Itawamba AHS standout running back was waiting to make his debut back in his home state. Shumpert did so in a big way carrying 22 times for 98 yards and two touchdowns against Alcorn State on Saturday.
Shumpert entered the game for the first time on the Bulldogs second drive of the second quarter and carried seven times for 23 yards on the nine-play drive. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder capped off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
“Whether it’s high school or little league, that first carry you’re going to be nervous,” said Shumpert, the 2012 Journal high school offensive player of the year. “I was a little shaky but got it out of the way. It felt good for me to get in there as a freshman.”
Shumpert added another 1-yard touchdown in the third quarter becoming the first true freshman to score multiple touchdowns in his debut since Michael Davis in 1991.
“He ran the ball hard, but he’s got to get a little lower,” said MSU coach Dan Mullen. “He takes some big hits. It’s okay to make people miss every once in a while too and run into the open field. He likes contact. But when we called his number he came in and ran the ball hard 22 times and was physical. I was pleased with what he did.”
Shumpert began his prep career at Itawamba AHS before spending two seasons at Tupelo. He transferred back to Fulton for his senior campaign where he was also named Mississippi’s Gatorade Player of the Year last season despite missing three games due to mononucleosis.
The former four-star prospect rushed 1,796 yards and 25 touchdowns in the final 10 games for the Indians last fall.
Despite a logjam in the backfield, Shumpert arrived in Starkville over the summer hoping to play right away.
“I just tried to show them that I was ready,” Shumpert said. “But it’s all up to them whether they wanted to redshirt me or play me.”