Mississippi State offensive coordinator Les Koenning has been a football coach since 1981 so it takes a lot to shock the 52-year-old.
Dan Mullen accomplished that feat late in this preseason with the idea of taking a 245-pound defensive player and moving him to wide receiver.
“I said ‘what? What did you say? Did I hear that right?’,” Koenning said. “Let me get this straight, you want take a big defensive end and move him to wide receiver?”
Shane McCardell, a one-time lettermen at defensive end, has moved to an offensive skill position that he’s never played in his football career.
McCardell is now being put in the similar position that he was in at West Brook High School in Beaumont, Texas where he’s basically having to learn how to play football all over again. Instead of looking at the road ahead for the former high school track athlete, excitement is the word he chooses to use.
“I need for it to be as slow as it can so I can pick everything up,” McCardell said. “If I don’t play right away, then I’ve got time to work with it. The coaching staff is doing the right thing by taking it slow.”
The Mississippi State coaching staff gave hints this week that the 2010 season will be a year that McCardell basically is treated like an incoming freshman and studies the basics of how to play wide receiver.
“He has no idea about receiver,” MSU receivers coach Mark Hudspeth said. “He is very talented and can really run and to me has natural ball skills. It will be next spring probably for he’s able to get in there and help us.”
Koenning has since praised the decision by his boss because of the athletic skills that McCardell possesses that saw him play three sports in high school including anchoring his school’s mile relay team and be a regional qualifier for the 400-meter dash.
“After the first day of practice, I went over to coach Mullen and said that’s a heck of a move,” Koenning said. “Granted scheme-wise he has no idea what he’s doing but it’s been a good deal for Shane.”
McCardell, who is still currently wearing jersey number 96 in practice, the 10th scholarship player at the wide receiver position.
Jackson in plans at left guard
Senior center J.C. Brignone gave a hint Wednesday that a different player may play directly to his left when Mississippi State takes the field Sept. 4 against Memphis.
While his head coach has stated publicly that he’s using a rotation of up to seven players for first-team offensive line reps, Brignone said redshirt freshman Gabe Jackson has entered the picture at left guard.
“He’s taken a big stride to go from a scout team player last year to a starter, that’s big-time for a freshman,” Brignone said.
Jackson, who was the 28th best prospect in Mississippi two years ago according to many recruiting services, was redshirted last year and will be battling Bulldogs junior Quentin Saulsberry for that spot at left guard.
Saulsberry, Brignone, senior tackle Derek Sherrod and junior Addison Lawrence are the four offensive lineman that return after starting all 12 games last season.
“We have a nice even flow right now and going out there keeping up a good tempo,” Sherrod said.