By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State has been breaking in some young defensive backs this spring, and while they don’t yet have the seasoning Dan Mullen would like, he can’t complain about the ability.
The raw talent of guys like cornerback Cedric Jiles and safety Deonte Evans was on display during Tuesday’s practice, the 12th of the spring for MSU.
Evans, a redshirt freshman, had a pair of interceptions during scrimmage work, and Jiles had a third-down pass break-up in the end zone.
“The benefit is they have the athletic skill, they have the potential to make the plays,” Mullen said. “And now it is just honing in on the fundamentals to be able to do it on a consistent basis. When they’re in position, they have the talent to make the plays.”
Safeties coach Tony Hughes has some experience in his group but likes what he’s seen so far of the younger players like Evans.
“I think they’re progressing, trying to pick up the defense, trying to understand what were trying to do. It’s all growth and maturity and getting the reps,” Hughes said.
The Bulldogs are nearing the end of spring drills and will hold their last big practice Thursday. There will be a helmets-only session Friday, and then the annual Maroon-White game is at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Mullen, Hughes and the rest of the coaches are putting a big emphasis on Thursday’s work.
“The most important thing that we want is for them to play hard, play with great effort, great intensity,” Hughes said, “but also be where you’re supposed to be within the scheme of the defense and make the play at the end of the play.
“And that’s what we want to see, and that’s what we want to grade.”