In a sense, Tommy Stevens took a gamble leaving Penn State as a graduate transfer this offseason. While he may have found himself in a reserve role at the Big Ten program, he knew the coaching staff, the offense and his teammates well enough to get on the field during his senior season.

However, just getting on the field isn’t what Stevens was looking to accomplish this fall. The senior wanted to start under center and envisioned leading his team to victories on the field.

Transferring to Mississippi State provided Stevens an opportunity to do just that under his former offensive coordinator and now head coach Joe Moorhead but nothing was going to be given to him, the senior still had to earn the job. Of course, by now we know Stevens did just that and will lead the Bulldogs, not only as the program’s starting quarterback, but as a team captain.

How did he manage to accomplish all of that in such a short time span? By having the best training camp of his career.

“I remember I told you guys, I think it was last time we met that this was my best camp all in all, and I think I closed it out that way,” Stevens said during his recent media availability. “I think I continued to play at a high level – higher than I’ve played before. Maybe that goes to being in the system longer, I was able to play more comfortably.”

When Mississippi State officially named its team captains this week, considering he has only been on campus a few months, Stevens selection was a surprise to many. The first-year Bulldog admitted this week that one of his goals in college was to be named a team captain by the end of his playing career.

“It was awesome. Big goal of mine since I started playing college football,” Stevens said. “It’s a huge honor. I’m very proud to be a captain and very thankful to my teammates for thinking so highly of me.”

No stranger to quarterback competitions, when asked about why he believes Moorhead named him the starter over Keytaon Thompson, Stevens pointed to his enhanced attention as a big reason that likely won him the job.

“I wanted to be as efficient as I possibly could, not necessarily as completion percentage, but as far as getting the protection set the right way, not missing many of those things. Little details, I wanted to be detail-oriented,” Stevens continued. “Like I said in the beginning, I thought it was my best overall camp, not just because my completion percentage – where that’s been as close to my best as it’s ever been, as far as a training camp perspective – but sliding protections the right way, (recognizing) when the defense is doing a certain thing. I think that’s what I’m most proud of.”

Stevens now has the job but he knows he’ll have to continue to improve on the field to elevate Mississippi State’s offense this fall, especially when the Bulldogs enter SEC play. Just because he’s won the starting role in Starkville doesn’t mean Stevens has let his foot off the gas when it comes to competing and working on his game, the work has just begun for the senior quarterback.