Mississippi State returns one of the SEC’s most veteran units in 2014. Spring football isn’t really for the established players, but rather it’s for the younger players who are fighting for playing time and trying to break into the lineup, as well as solving vacancies within the starting rotation.
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Last year, Dak Prescott and Josh Robinson were just two of the many backups fighting for extra playing time. This year, they’re seasoned veterans ready to bear the burden.
Entering spring, the biggest concern was the offensive line. Two questions that stood out: left guard and right tackle. The good thing for the Bulldogs is they return left tackle Blaine Clausell and center Dillon Day, the two most important positions. Jamaal Clayborn is playing well replacing Gabe Jackson at left guard, but right tackle remains a concern and a question. Damien Robinson has garnered the most first team reps, but Jocquell Johnson, Cole Carter and Rufus Warren have all shared reps and are working into the rotation. The other player who isn’t fully recovered from his injury is Justin Malone, and he could slide into either a guard or tackle slot when he returns. At least Clayborn is playing well replacing Jackson. That’s a huge piece of the puzzle.
The spring’s biggest position battle belongs to the running backs. Projected starter Josh Robinson and backup Ashton Shumpert have been banged up at different times throughout spring, and Nick Griffin is taking advantage of it. Griffin has never been healthy, as he’s had surgery on both of his knees, but he’s playing really well. Griffin racked up 74 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown in the first scrimmage. Already with Robinson, Shumpert and Griffin, the Bulldogs will add talented newcomer Aeris Williams to the rotation come fall. The Bulldogs have a stable and talented running back corps playing alongside Dak Prescott. That could be lethal.
High school quarterback Dezmond Harris is making a strong push at linebacker. Linebackers are a pretty established unit with Benardrick McKinney, Matthew Wells, Beniquez Brown and Ferlando Bohana, but Harris could work his way into the rotation. The 6-4, 220-pound redshirt freshman is very long and very athletic. He recorded a pick-six in Saturday’s scrimmage. What is it about Mississippi State redshirt freshmen linebackers? This is a deep and talented unit that’s taking shape this spring.
Another player who’s come on strong is defensive back Will Redmond. Redmond is having a fabulous spring – some argue he’s had the best spring of any player, and although he’s not a starter, he may be by the time August rolls around. He’s mostly playing Nickelback as a backup corner. Redmond played in eight games last season, making 23 tackles and recorded two pass breakups, and he’s finally healthy and ready for a major impact.
The Bulldogs will play their annual spring game April 12th.
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