Thoughts from Spring Practice


After I attended MSU spring practice on Friday, I posted my notes I jotted as I watched. As promised today a few more in depth thoughts. Sorry about the holdup but I had a busy Easter weekend with traveling and family and I hope everyone enjoyed theirs as well.

-Quarterback- The main thing that sticks out here is that Tyler is taking a lot of reps in drills under center. Many fans have been calling for it since it seems to suit his skill set and I think we’ll see it.

-Running Back- Ladarius Perkins still looks like he is the most complete guy. No doubt about him starting again.  The competition between Derrick Milton and Josh Robinson for the 2nd spot is intense (Griffin being held out for ACL rehab) and it is being manifested in both guys going extremely hard on every drill. Milton looks like our best back for receiving out of the backfield and Robinson looks like a tough between the tackles runner. These 2 are in an almost dead heat.

-Wide Receiver- Rojo and Joe Morrow look to be the starters. Michael Carr looks really good for taking a year off and has the best hands in the group. Fred Brown is the surprise of this group to me. He looks really smooth out there and has a knack for getting open. At this point Jeremy Chappelle is our 5th best outside receiver. He looks kind of lost but that is to be expected. He should get a lot better by the fall but I doubt he can overtake Rojo, Morrow, or Carr. Jameon looks to be in the best shape he has ever been in and his hands are like glue. Jameon definitely looks to be cashing in on his opportunity. Brandon Holloway was a bit of a surprise too. He ran good routes and was really quick. He had 1 really nice double move to the corner for a TD.

-O line- With everyone basically returning I believed this could be a strength of the team and I think I was right. In my mind our O line is in better shape than it has been the last 2 years. Our starting 5 looks really good and there are some depth guys who look to be really improving especially Devon Desper, Dylan Holley, and Justin Senior.

-Tight Ends- MSU is set at TE for the next few years. Malcolm Johnson looked really good and is poised for a breakout year. Brandon Hill is bigger and more physical and has really good hands. I look for him to be a goal line threat. Rufus Warren is a massive guy that moves surprisingly well with good hands. Gus Walley looks to have gained some weight too. Mid semester Hargrave transfer Artimas Samuel was pretty surprising. First off is his size. His arms are bigger than my head and his hands may be the best of the position group. At 260 he is a bit overweight and it is affecting his speed but I fully expect Balis to get him at an optimal playing weight that I would estimate in the 235-240 range.

-D Line- The high end talent here is the best it’s been since the Joe Lee Dunn lines of the late 90’s. Nick and Quay both seem really excited and are giving a lot of effort out there. Hopefully they realize that they could be huge players for us and are taking advantage of their opportunity. PJ Jones looks really good too and it’s easy to forget he was a 4 star in his own right. David Turner doesn’t play to 2 DT positions differently like Wilson did and I saw some cool combinations. James and Viges looked like a huge, tough DT’s while Quay and PJ looked like a speed duo. At DE I mostly watched the younger guys. Ryan Brown and Torrey Dale are really tall guys. Brown will see a lot of reps this year and looks to be a future starter. AJ Jefferson also looks to have grown some. He looked taller to me.

-Linebacker- Our starting 3 of Mckinney, Skinner, and Wells all look improved. Mckinney looks to have picked up some weight and is starting to look like the NFL prospect that he is. Hughes and Bohanna are both doing everything they can to challenge for reps. Beni and Richie Brown are getting most of the 2nd team reps and it’s easy to see why they have so much hype. They are both really smooth players with a lot of speed. I don’t think they challenge for starter reps this year but our future is in good hands here.

-Defensive Backs- I’ll start this off with the fact that Justin Cox is everything that has been advertised. Dude is a legit lock down SEC corner. He plays very physical and mean out there and as he learns the system he’ll get better. He will help bridge the loss of Banks and Slay. The other surprising corner was Will Redmond. He was running with the starters and sure looks like that’s his spot to lose. If those 2 starters stick we still get a very good player in Jameson Love when we go 3 CB sets. I felt a ton better about CB after seeing those guys. At safety Nickoe looks to be in much better shape. He is much slimmer and appeared to be moving better. Dee Arrington was running as the starter at SS and that makes for a talented starting 4. I still expect Jay Hughes to challenge for a starting spot and he looked good in practice as well.

-Geoff Collins really seemed to coach the whole defense and not just his position group like Wilson. He is very hands on. There was 1 part of practice that stood out when he had the whole defense in a goal line set and he was having WR’s motion across the formation. He reviewed what this motion meant in multiple different defensive setups. Every time he was doing the same things. He was asking Mckinney, Skinner, Redmond, Cox, and Arrington who covers him? Do we follow him across the formation? How do we align? Collins was doing this even while the D line was standing where they would be lined up. It’s clear that he doesn’t want just the guy with the assignment to know but the whole defense to know what is going on and why they are making the adjustments.

-Our WR core looks completely different. The last few years we looked really small. Rojo is 224, Morrow is 210, Carr is 220, and Malcolm Johnson is 220. When these guys are all lined up we look huge out there.  Our guys have gone from small to looking like a stable of running backs. I’m very excited about this group’s athleticism and physicality.

-There were some high profile recruits at practice in CJ Hampton and Domique Booth. Although CJ Hampton is committed to Ole Miss he has given multiple interviews after the commitment that he is still open to the recruiting process and that it’s not over. His attendance in Starkville on Friday cemented those quotes in my mind and I think we have a good shot at flipping him.

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