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SMITH COLUMN: Practice gives players chance to catch an eye

August 2, 2011

SHS senior quarterback Michael Newman throws a pass during practice on Monday. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

It's all about making an impression.
For the last several weeks, political advertisements have been bombarding our minds as candidates for the various offices have attempted to persuade us as to why they were the best individuals for the job.
The time for talk came to an end on Tuesday and the votes were cast. The voice of the people was heard.
As the election process came to an end, high school football players and coaches were taking the field for practice on a warm and steamy evening.
There's an opportunity to make an impression in that situation also.
Players are trying to show their coaches why they are the best person to fill a particular position on the team.
The Starkville Academy Volunteers have entered their second week of preseason drills, while the Starkville Yellowjackets and other public schools of the area started on Monday and the Mississippi State Bulldogs begin on Thursday.
The one area that seems to get the most attention and is often asked about is quarterback.
At Mississippi State, there doesn't seem to be much of a mystery of who will be the starting signal caller against Memphis on Sept. 1 at Memphis.
Chris Relf has gotten better and better over the last couple of years and his standing as the quarterback of the Bulldogs is solid going into his senior year.
Even though Relf's spot is secure, knowing that didn't keep him from remaining in Starkville over the summer working on his quickness and development.
Relf said the idea of getting better is shared throughout the entire squad.
"We want to be better than we were last year," Relf said during Southeastern Conference Media Days. "Like Coach (Dan) Mullen says, 'from good to great.' We're working real hard right now being in the weight room and just working to be better."
Both SHS and SA are looking to replace its signal callers from last season.
Drew Pellum had the inside edge to replace the graduated Kyle Henson with the Vols, while Gabe Myles has made strides during the spring to take over for Jaquez Johnson with the Jackets.
Even though Myles came out of spring with the edge, there are certain aspects of what Michael Newman and Princeton Jones can do that keeps them in the mix for coach Jamie Mitchell.
"Michael is a solid player and one we are certainly proud of," Mitchell said on Tuesday. "He's going to be our punter as well and carries a huge responsibility in that area. Princeton Jones is our No. 3 guy. He's a freshman and started for our 9th grade team last year. He's got a chance to be a good one for us as well."
As the preseason workouts continue and the teams look toward opening night of August 19, it will be interesting to see which players emerge and catch the eye of their coaches.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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