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

    Mullen wants improvement from Bumphis, receivers

    Every unit on Mississippi State’s roster has young guys looking to make their mark on the field. However, with just one senior and no juniors, the wide receiving corps has more fresh faces than any other unit on the field.
    A rotation of six or seven receivers, headlined by senior Leon Berry and sophomore Chad Bumphis, are expected to carry the load this season. While there is a lack of game experience, knowledge of the offensive scheme will not be an issue for this group in the second year of Dan Mullen’s spread offense. Wide receivers coach Mark Hudspeth acknowledged the progress his group has made in the offseason.
    “I think knowledge-wise, we are way ahead this year,” Hudspeth said. “That’s simply because they’ve been in the system for two years now. No longer is it new to them, and they’re not just coming in with a few weeks to get ready. That was the situation last year with a lot of guys that are sophomores.”
    Other than true freshmen Michael Carr and Jameon Lewis, every receiver who is expected to see the field this season has spent a year or more learning the system.
    Even last year’s leading receiver, Bumphis, admits that he did not have a full grasp of the offense when he caught 32 passes for 375 yards as a freshman.
    “Last year, any play we called I was just floating around,” Bumphis said. “This year I understand the offense a whole lot more. I understand the concepts of the offense, so I feel a lot more comfortable.”
    While Bumphis burst onto the scene as a true freshman from Tupelo, scoring in the opener against Jackson State, Mullen said he still has a lot to learn to become the play-maker the Bulldogs need him to be.
    “For him to become the caliber player that we need him to be, he needs to become a great fundamental wide receiver,” Mullen said. “He needs to know how to beat man coverage, how to become a great blocker on every single play. Recognize what the defense is doing to stop him and how he’s going to get open in those situations, and that comes with maturity.”
    Bumphis is facing competition at his spot from fellow sophomore Brandon Heavens for the starting role, a race Hudspeth described as “neck and neck.” Heavens, a Bessemer, Ala., native, is a speedster who also has the ability to run the ball out of the backfield as well. In his freshman season, Heavens actually had more carries (9) than he did receptions (7).
    Berry is expected to start at one of the outside receiver spots, and as the lone senior of the group will be counted on to provide leadership. Berry was MSU’s second-leading receiver last fall with 14 catches for 170 yards, but his biggest impact came in the return game. His 1,015 kickoff return yards last fall were a school record.
    Second-year receivers Arceto Clark, Chris Smith and Ricco Sanders are all expected to play a larger role for the Bulldogs this season. Redshirt freshman Sam Williams is still recovering from a torn ACL in spring practice but should be a contributor once he returns to the field.
    One of the more interesting names on the depth chart is sophomore Shane McCardell, who recently made the switch from defensive end to wide receiver. It is rare to see a lineman transition to receiver, but Bumphis said McCardell has the speed to make the switch.
    “I saw him run when I first got here and I thought he played wide receiver,” Bumphis said.
    Hudspeth said due to the late transition, not much will be expected of McCardell this season, but he likes his potential for 2011.
    Depending on how fast the two grasp the offense, Lewis, a Tylertown native, and Carr, a West Point native, could make an impact this fall. Lewis has a slight edge over Carr because he was on campus this summer participating in the offseason conditioning program and came into fall camp in better shape. Lewis, who was named all-state by The Clarion-Ledger last fall, has caught the eye of coaches and other players with his play in camp.
    “Jameon Lewis is a play-maker,” Bumphis said. “That dude can play.”
    Hudspeth noted the team will try to redshirt as many of the incoming freshmen receivers as they can. Receiver is a position that has been emphasized by Mullen in recruiting, but he feels they are not quite where they want to be depth-wise at the position.
    “It’ll be another year I think or two even before we get the depth at the receiver position we need, and we’ve just gotta continue to recruit,” Mullen said.

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    Mullen wants improvement from Bumphis, receivers