By LEE ADAMS
If there is one position that is key to the spread offense, it's the wide receiver position and the No. 20 Mississippi State Bulldogs has plenty of depth at the position.
Returning starters for 2011 are Chad Bumphis, Arceto Clark and Chris Smith, but the spread offense relies on more than just three receivers. Michael Carr, Brandon Heavens, Ricco Sanders, Jameon Lewis, Sam Williams, Malcolm Johnson and Robert Johnson are all in line to see some playing time.
With that many receivers at the same position, competition is natural but it's not getting in the way of their preparation.
"It's going really good," said Clark. "We are all working really hard and pushing each other. We are progressing pretty good and everybody is grindin' to improve every day."
Bumphis, who led the Bulldogs in several receiving categories in 2010, has seen good things from his fellow receivers during practice especially Clark and Lewis.
"Everybody is looking good," said Bumphis. "Arceto is one of the best players on the team and Jameon is just so athletic and quick. We get to see him (Lewis) every day but this fall the world will get to see what he can do with the ball in his hands."
Bumphis has also noticed his other fellow receivers and feels the Bulldogs have many options for senior quarterback Chris Relf to throw to.
"Chris Smith, Ricco, Heavens are all great receivers and Sam Williams is a good and fast possession receiver," said Bumphis. "We have a bunch of weapons that we can spread the ball around."
Helping prepare the Bulldog receivers in first year wide receiver coach Angelo Mirando, who took over for Mark Hudspeth. Mirando brings a lot of energy to practice and has even been seen diving after fumbles during drills.
"He brings excitement and he can relate to us," said Clark. "I love it."
Mirando is doing everything he can to make his receivers better while getting them ready for the season.
"Coach Angelo is doing a good job of pointing out stuff that we need to work on," said Bumphis. "Every day we watch film and work on something different."
After 2,424 total passing yards in 2010, the Bulldog receivers are predicted to play a bigger role this season, but Clark, who had 362 receiving yards last season, is just ready to get on the field.
"I'm just excited about the season. I'm ready to play," said Clark. "I know we are going to make plays, but I'm just ready for it to start so we can show what we can do."
The prospect of the Bulldogs passing more in 2011, the receivers will have to be prepared, but Clark isn't worried about himself or his fellow receivers as he says, "The sky is the limit."
Expectations are high for the Bulldogs and its receivers and on September 1, they hope their production will be a part of a championship season.