Bulldogs believes wide receivers can get job done

Mississippi State wide receiver Keith Mixon

Staff Writer

It’s perhaps the position group with the biggest question mark on it during preseason training camp, but don’t tell Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald there is uncertainty amongst MSU’s receiving corps.

“Oh man, we have a lot of talent out there,” Fitzgerald said. “Slot receivers, wides, plus we have Deddrick (Thomas), (Keith Mixon) and maybe throw Malik (Dear) in the slot as well. Three good guys right there that are really going to get open, create separation and have good routes.

“On the outside, we have guys that are big, fast, tall guys that can really stretch the field and jump up and go get the ball. So I think we have all the tools and all the weapons we need to effectively run this offense.”

As has been well documented by this point, new MSU head coach Joe Moorhead has an offensive style that relies on explosive plays down the field. Much of the onus in such a scheme obviously falls on the shoulders of wide receivers.

However Moorhead and the Bulldogs go into the 2018 season relying on either players that haven’t had a ton of success at the Southeastern Conference level, or guys that have never even seen the field in the Southeastern Conference. Yet Moorhead believes in what he has to work with.

“As a quote I actually heard says, life’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play them,” Moorhead said. “I think we’ve got a lot of talent at the receiver position.”

The skill level is undeniable. Stephen Guidry and Devonta Jason are awaiting their MSU debuts, but are loaded with potential. Guidry was rated the No. 1 junior college wide receiver in America in the most recent signing class. Jason was a four-star recruit out of high school and one of the state of Louisiana’s top prospects. Both are expected to give the Bulldogs big-play ability, even if no one has seen it at the highest level of college football yet.

Add Guidry and Jason to MSU’s three leading wide receivers from last year, who are all back. The numbers weren’t all that impressive. No one had more yards receiving than Jesse Jackson’s 276 yards. However Jackson, Mixon and Thomas all return to the Bulldogs.

The question now becomes, who from that group of guys, or others, can stand out over the next month of camp?

“The next 28 opportunities are going to be critical for guys in that unit to separate themselves,” Moorhead said. “We ended spring ball with waters a little bit muddied and guys kind of grouped up. So ideally you’d like to go into a game with three guys that are primary starters. You generally travel eight to a road game, but we have not been a huge rotation team in the past. We’ve had three guys that are primary starters that got a majority of reps. That’s not necessarily set in stone. If there are guys that can split the reps, or multiple guys we can play at each position, we’ll do that. The thing I’m looking for most is for people to step up and separate.”

No matter what happens over the next four weeks of practice, the true test of MSU’s wide receivers won’t come until the games count for real starting next month. Only then can the Bulldogs truly discover if they have a group of pass catchers they can rely on.

Count Moorhead on the optimistic side of the equation. He believes State’s receivers have a good chance to silence any doubters.

“I don’t think (if they are unsuccessful) it will be for a lack of talent,” Moorhead said. “I think we’ve just got to do a good job, coach them up and put them in position to be successful. I know (offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Luke Getsy) and our system will help them do that.”