Mississippi State's football team opened up its spring work on Friday, and several players who had to sit out last year are now working toward getting on the field as soon as possible.
One of those is wide receiver Joe Morrow, who at 6-foot-4 presents a bigger target than recent MSU quarterbacks have been accustomed to seeing.
Coach Dan Mullen said Morrow could have gotten some playing time last fall by the eighth or ninth week, but he didn't want to pull the redshirt off that late in the season.
"We expect a lot of big things out of him. He knows that, and he wants to play, so I think you're going to see him have a big spring," Mullen said.
Another one to watch is cornerback Taveze Calhoun. He plays at a position that's crowded and chock full of experience, but he's drawn high praise from State's top corner, senior Johnthan Banks.
"Calhoun is a lockdown corner," Banks said. "Everybody's talking about me, but Calhoun is a guy that you should watch."
Both he and Morrow stood out Friday. Calhoun showed the coverage skills Banks bragged about, while Morrow hauled in a bomb from Russell in the end zone during passing drills.
As for the veterans, they performed as Mullen expected. He said earlier in the week that the Bulldogs are a little hungrier than they were last year, and that appetite for more success is evident in guys like Banks and Russell.
"We got our dog back," said Banks. "Everybody got a little relaxed (last year), but this year we've got a big chip on our shoulder."
Russell is the No. 1 QB now, although he's coming back from a a sprained MCL, which kept him out of MSU's Music City Bowl win over Wake Forest. He moved well Friday.
"I actually did a lot better than I figured I would be," he said. "I thought I would be a little rusty on some throws, maybe high, but from a standpoint of everything I've been through, I think I did pretty good."