Tight ends via text message: MSU leader makes sure members of his group are on time for practice

Mississippi State tight ends Ferrod Green and Justin Johnson celebrate a touchdown.

Staff Writer

Tight ends have come to expect it from veteran Justin Johnson.

It’s that daily text message to make sure the unit is ready to meet the challenge of the day at Mississippi State's preseason football practice.

It’s not only by text message, but Johnson is one of the more vocal members of the Bulldogs.

“He is always on our guys in the room,” MSU tight ends coach Mark Hudspeth said. “He is making sure they are in the building at the right time and not afraid to speak his mind. I’m pleased with his leadership.”

Johnson and Ferrod Green, the two most experienced Bulldogs of the tight end group, are roommates. Green doesn’t need a text message from Johnson because he knows when they have to leave and when they must arrive at the football complex.

Green doesn’t consider himself a vocal leader, so having Johnson around is enough to get the job done.

“He’s been a great example for all of us – even for me,” Green said. “(The tight ends respond to Johnson) in a positive way. Justin is very vocal and leads by example.”

When it comes to first-team reps in practice, Hudspeth said it has been very competitive between Johnson and Green.

“They are neck and neck, but I’d say Justin has had a very good camp," Hudspeth said. "Ferrod has come on in the last few days. They are two guys we can count on and can win with.”

Hudspeth definitely has his choice of players with seven in the tight end rotation right now and all are putting forth the effort in workouts.

In the system of head coach Joe Moorhead, Hudspeth calls the tight end “a very hybrid player.”

“You are involved in the running game, you are involved in the passing game and involved in protections,” Hudspeth said. “I think they are excited about this system. (When) you go back and look at (Moorhead’s) offenses at Penn State and at Fordham, the tight ends were a big part of the system, not only in the run game, but in the passing game. It’s trying to stretch the team vertically down the field.

“We’ve got some guys with some speed and we asked those guys to lose some weight a little bit. That’s helped them become better route runners and increased their speed. They’ve taken on that challenge.”

Green welcomes the thought of having more passes thrown his way. He had nine catches for 174 yards last season.

Hudspeth said the area that makes him the most proud with his tight ends are the willingness to learn and give attention to detail.

Green likes the strides taken by the tight ends, especially the younger players in the group.

“Everybody is up to speed and nobody has been left behind,” Green said. “Everybody is doing an excellent job.”