The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Spring football practice in full swing

Noah Siano | The Reflector

Mississippi State University looks to break in their four new coaches and 4-star quarterback Keytaon Thompson in this year’s annual spring game at 3 p.m. on April 8. 

It is football season once again as Mississippi State started their spring season with practice last Thursday.

After finishing the year with a bowl win over the University of Miami in Ohio, MSU will look to build off a 6-7 record. Entering last spring, the main topic of discussion was the four way quarterback battle between Nick Fitzgerald, Elijah Staley, Damian Williams and Nick Tiano. 

Fitzgerald, a junior from Richmond Hill, Georgia, won the battle and all three of the other quarterbacks have left the university since then. Besides Fitzgerald, the only other scholarship quarterback on the roster is true freshman Keytaon Thompson. 

Thompson, a New Orleans, Louisiana, native is an early enrollee and was a 4-star quarterback coming out of high school. Fitzgerald said Thompson is picking things up quicker than he did.  

“I think he kind of ran this kind of thing in high school,” Fitzgerald said. “It kind of clicked for him way faster than it did for me, which is awesome for him. He is just doing a phenomenal job to be honest.”

MSU also will be breaking in some new coaches this spring as they have hired a new defensive coordinator, a new safeties coach, a new quarterbacks coach and a new tight ends coach. Ron English is the new safeties coach, while D.J. Looney takes over as tight end coach and Brett Elliott takes over as quarterback coach. 

Elliott has previous coaching experience at MSU. From 2012-13 he served as an offensive graduate assistant and then in the 2014 season he was the offensive quality control specialist. Head football coach Dan Mullen said he likes to have someone at quarterback’s coach who knows what he wants.

“Brett was here for a few years, I like guys to coach quarterbacks a certain way,” Mullen said. “There’s only certain guys that I wouldn’t have to spend a ton of time with them, he knows what my expectations are, and he knows how I coach the quarterbacks. I think that makes the transition very easy.”

Todd Grantham takes over as defensive coordinator for MSU after coaching at Louisville and Georgia previously. With new coaches comes some new styles, especially when the team has a new head of the defense. 

Grantham’s predecessor, Peter Sirmon, was in his first year of defensive coordinator experience last season at MSU. For Grantham that is not the case as he has been the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns, the University of Georgia and the University of Louisville. You can read more about the hire here.

Linebacker Gerri Green says Grantham’s experience will help MSU going forward.

 “He knows what he is talking about, he is experienced,” Green says. “Everything he says you can see it, from watching film to on the field. You see it translate, so everything he says I believe it because I see it work.”

Green, a junior from Greenville, Mississippi, is now one of the leaders on MSU’s defense. With A.J. Jefferson and Richie Brown graduating, it falls on him to be one of the older guys and a leader. 

When asked on what he can do lead, he answered that he just needs to use what he learned from guys like Brown and Jefferson.

“Just the things I learned from guys like A.J. and Richie, they always came in and did things the right way,” Green said. “If practice was down, they would pick practice up, if things were going wrong they found ways to make it go right.”

MSU will continue their spring practices this week before taking a break over spring break. Then they will start up once again and lead into the annual spring game that will kick off at 3 p.m. on April 8.

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Spring football practice in full swing