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Man behind center: Russell assumes control at quarterback for MSU

August 28, 2012

Mississippi State's Tyler Russell (17) will be the starting quarterback for head coach Dan Mullen when the Bulldogs open the season against Jackson State Saturday. (Photo by Michael Wardlaw, SDN)

Young boys, who grow up playing football in the backyard, dream of being “the man” who leads the game winning drive, or throws the pass that stuns the crowd.

Tyler Russell officially becomes "the man" for Mississippi State as he leads the Bulldogs onto the field for the first time as the unquestioned leader of the team.

“I’m excited for this opportunity,” said Russell. “It was hard over the past couple of years, but I know that was best for me. I’m ready to take a step forward.”

The Meridian native now has an offense that has been tailored to fit his skill-set of throwing the football.

“Coach (Dan) Mullen has made a few changes to fit what I do well,” said Russell. “He is always asking me for my thoughts, (and) what I’m comfortable with. I trust the position he has put me in.”

Russell enters the season with four career starts and 17 games where he’s taken the field. In that time, he’s completed 55.7 percent (the most efficient in MSU history) of his passes for 1,669 yards and 13 touchdowns.

"We're very fortunate," said MSU offensive coordinator Les Koenning. "He's been in SEC football games so it's pretty good to have him under control of the center. He understands the tempo and what it's like and what we need to have done."

Behind Russell will be the athletic but inexperienced Dak Prescott. The Haughton, La., product spent his redshirt season with the Bulldogs learning his role and now is ready to take the field on Saturday to take his first snaps.

“We haven't discussed exactly when he's going in on this series yet," said Mullen. "We probably will have that plan to get him on the field. It might not even be for a whole series. It might be situational thing for a couple of players here or there. I just want to get him out there, and get him to call a play in the huddle in front of a big crowd on TV. (I want him to) get a snap even if you've got to hand it off, or whatever it is. (I want him to ) just go out there and function in your first play and get that off your shoulders. I think that first play is the hardest one.”

Both quarterbacks will be asked to lead the team this year and according to Koenning, he’s ready to see them in action.

"Sure, we're excited about both of them,” he said. “They've had a good camp and we're ready to see what they can do under the lights."

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