All-Time MSU Football Team: Kicker and Punter

Over the three weeks of fall camp, Mississippi State will be collecting votes and assembling an all-time MSU football team in honor of the 100th anniversary of Scott Field. Winners will be announced over the course of the season as the starters are filled in on both sides of the ball.

brian-hazelwoodVoting is simple: the candidates and their highlights are listed below, just vote for your choices in the poll.

Today, we are selecting one punter and one placekicker from the pools of candidates.


Mike Patrick 1972-74

40.93 yards per punt (6th) on 171 punts (6th) for 6,999 yards (6th). Record for longest and second longest punts in MSU history (84 yards vs. Alabama 1974, 82 yards vs. William and Mary (1974)

Todd Jordan 1989-93

42.8 yards per punt (2nd) on 112 punts for 4,793 yards. All-SEC 1992

Andy Russ 1993-96

41.96 yards per punt (4th) on 159 punts (7th) for 6,672 yards (7th)

Jeff Walker 1996-99

43.44 yards per punt (1st) on 141 punts (10th) for 6,126 yards. All-SEC 1997

Baker Swedenburg 2010-13

41.65 yards per punt (5th) on 153 punts (9th) for 6,373 yards (8th)



Artie Cosby 1983-86

48 made field goals (1st) on 81 attempts (1st) for a .593 percentage (7th). Longest field goal in MSU history (54 yards vs. Memphis in 1985)

Joel Logan 1987-90

41 made field goals (3rd) on 61 attempts (3rd) for a .672 percentage (4th)

Brian Hazelwood 1995-98

43 made field goals (2nd) on 73 attempts (2nd) for a .589 percentage (8th). 2nd (53 yards) 6th (52 yards) and 8th (51, twice) longest field goals in MSU history. Two-time All-SEC 1997-8

Scott Westerfield 1999-00

30 made field goals (6th) on 42 attempts (5th) for a .714 percentage (3rd). T-8th (51 yards) longest field goal in MSU history, most made field goals in a season (18 in 1999). Two-time All-SEC 1999-00. Two-time semi-finalist for Lou Groza Award 1999-00

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Anti-Social Media: Why a few Bulldogs have decided not to tweet

I remember a few years ago, I unfollowed someone on Twitter because I wanted to cap the number of people I was following at 200. Any more than that just seemed unreasonable and too difficult to manage.

twitter-logoFast forward to present day and I’m following well over 1,000 folks. I never did re-follow that guy (sorry), but I couldn’t help following so many people as time went on and more and more people signed up to share their insights and observations.

It seems like everyone is on Twitter, especially in athletics, and I felt the need to follow them.

Though, while it seems like everyone is sending his or her thoughts out into cyberspace, there are still a few who don’t.

In an online world, there is a small group of players on Mississippi State’s football team who prefer to keep their human interactions limited to real life.

Why don’t they tweet like all their other teammates? Becoming a starter comes with much more than added playing time – you typically end up adding a few thousand Twitter followers, as well.

For some, that’s just the reason they don’t.

Whatever reasons they have, I asked a few of these Twitter-leery Bulldogs the same question: Why don’t you tweet?

Here are their answers.

Kaleb Eulls, senior defensive lineman: “To me, social media is just going to get you in trouble. You see what happens to some of these guys. It’s just trouble.”

Blaine Clausell, senior offensive lineman: “I just don’t do social media. It’s not my thing. I prefer face-to-face conversation.”

Malcolm Johnson, senior tight end: “I don’t do any of that stuff. There are too many opportunities to put your foot in your mouth. A lot of people try to judge you or think they know you because of Twitter, so I don’t give them that chance.”

A.J. Jefferson, sophomore defensive lineman: “Your girl will get you caught up. Social networking, it’s just another way…”

Jocquell Johnson, junior offensive lineman: “I used to, but it just gets you in trouble. Then Instagram came into play.”

P.J. Jones, senior defensive lineman: “Because I’m not a high-profile guy. I stay low-key.”

They may never see this article if all I do is tweet it, but they’re just fine with that. (Of course, if they ever do sign up, I’ll encourage them to follow me at @bobcarskadon #shamelessplug)

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All-Time MSU Football Team: Quarterback

Over the three weeks of fall camp, Mississippi State will be collecting votes and assembling an all-time MSU football team in honor of the 100th anniversary of Scott Field. Winners will be announced over the course of the season as the starters are filled in on both sides of the ball.

Voting is simple: the candidates and their highlights are listed below, just vote for your choices in the poll.

Today, we are selecting one quarterback from the pool of candidates.

Jackie Parker with the CFL Championship Grey Cup (courtesy: Edmonton Journal)

Jackie Parker with the CFL Championship Grey Cup (courtesy: Edmonton Journal)

Jackie Parker 1952-53

All-American 1953, All-SEC 1952-53, member of National Football Foundation Hall of Fame, two-time Nashville Banner SEC MVP (1952-53), record for most total touchdowns in a game (six vs. Auburn 1952). 24 career rushing touchdowns (T-4th all-time), 15 passing touchdowns, 39 career touchdowns responsible for (7th), 24 total touchdowns in 1952 (2nd-best single season), 8.52 yards per pass attempt (1st), most points scored by non-kicker in a single season (120, an SEC record until 1992) and most points responsible for in a single season (168), most points responsible for in a single game (six touchdowns and six extra points vs. Auburn in 1952), MSU’s leading punt and kick returner 1952-53, led MSU in interceptions (four) in 1953, nicknamed “The Fast Freight From Mississippi State,” one of five in MSU Ring of Honor, member of Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, 135.11 passing efficiency (2nd), only quarterback with a perfect 1.000 completion percentage in a game (vs. Ole Miss 1953)

Tommy Pharr 1967-69

3,720 passing yards (8th), 24 touchdowns (8th), 36 interceptions. 569 rushing yards, four touchdowns. 11 200-yard passing games (T-1st)

Rockey Felker 1971-74

2,921 passing yards, 23 touchdowns (9th), 27 interceptions. 815 rushing yards, 12 touchdowns

John Bond 1980-83

4,621 passing yards (6th), 18 touchdowns (10th), 37 interceptions. 2,280 rushing yards (1st among QBs), 24 touchdowns. 6,901 yards of total offense (2nd), 42 touchdowns responsible for (4th)

Don Smith 1983-86

5,229 passing yards (5th), 31 touchdowns (5th), 35 interceptions. 7,097 yards of total offense (1st), 1,868 rush yards (2nd among QBs), nine career 100-yard rushing games (1st among QBs), most 100-yard rushing games in one season by a QB (five in 1986), most yards per game in a career (165), most yards per game in a season 262.4 in 1985, 52 total touchdowns responsible for (1st), tied-most consecutive games in a season with a touchdown pass (six in 1985)

Sleepy Robinson 1990-92

1,501 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, 11 interceptions. 682 yards rushing, seven touchdowns

Derrick Taite 1993-96

5,232 passing yards (4th), 38 touchdowns (2nd), 25 interceptions. Nine career 200-yard games (5th), records for most passing yards in a game (466 vs. Tulane 1994) and total yards in a game (468 vs. Tulane 1994), 5,405 yards total offense (6th)

Wayne Madkin 1998-01

6,336 yards (1st), 34 touchdowns (3rd) and 35 interceptions. 116.85 career passing efficiency (8th), 11 200-yard games (T-1st)

Tyler Russell 2010-13

5,441 passing yards (3rd), 42 touchdowns (1st), 23 interceptions. 137.29 passing efficiency (1st), most touchdowns in a season (24 in 2012), 10 200-yard games (4th), .587 completion percentage (3rd), 410 completions (3rd)

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Day in the Life: A fall camp Friday with MSU strength coach Rick Court

“Come on, coach!”

Mississippi State’s senior defensive tackle P.J. Jones was jokingly trying to get his strength coach Rick Court to come try and block him in practice.

“Just because you’re 70 pounds heavier than me doesn’t mean I won’t kick your tail,” Court quipped back.

“You couldn’t.”

“I’d step on your foot and you’d be done. Step on your foot, punch you in the gut, then knee you in the head when you bend down. Over.”

“Uh-uh, coach,” sophomore d-lineman Nick James chimed in. “We got you!”


I met up with Rick Court a little before 9 a.m. last Friday. I was supposed to shadow him for a day, learn about what he does and what life is like for Mississippi State’s strength and conditioning coach during camp.

Rick Court, center, with his strength staff

Rick Court, center, with his strength staff

He’d already started his morning at team breakfast at the hotel at 7, followed by the coaches meeting with Dan Mullen and his assistants. The SEC Network was playing at a low volume on the TV in his office as he got his notes together for the morning.

He’s as organized and structured as you’d likely expect a strength coach to be, and every bit as intimidating in sight and sound. Though he’s also far more outgoing, joking and warm-hearted than you’d probably think. I just hope he doesn’t get mad at me for calling him warm-hearted.

9 a.m., weight room at MSU’s football complex: The day started as each does, with Court running the staff meeting of full-timers, graduate assistants and interns. This was the first time he’d put up the schedule of how things will run on game weeks for the football team, a schedule they will soon begin following.

After a quick review, he then went into instructions on what they’d be doing in the weight room that day for the two workouts, offense/special teams first at 10, defense after at 11.

Somewhere right around there, close to probably 9:15, is where I heard the last sentence I completely understood for at least a couple hours. I’m no World’s Strongest Man, but I work out several times a week and have done so for years. I like to think I’m at least somewhat knowledgeable around a weight room. But I hadn’t been around anything like this before.

Court started naming off workouts (I assume?) that sounded more Latin than English, instructing the leaders of each station in the room what they’d be doing, reviewing any limitations on injured players (“He got a neck and a foot in the same day, but there’s no modified restrictions. He’s cleared.”), making sure the individual needs of each position group are attended to, anything they needed to know.

Watching and listening from the back of meeting, I only understood about every 10th word, but certainly not enough to string complete thoughts together.

“… hydrant … waggle … clams …”

I am beyond confused.

“Does that make sense?” Court asked one of his assistants.

“Yes,” he replied.

“No,” I thought to myself.

9:30 a.m., weight room: I must have looked sleepy to Court as he went back and forth across the room getting things set up.

“Don’t yawn in here,” he told me. “If the guys catch you yawning, they’ll make you do push-ups.”

9:37 a.m., weight room: I yawned. No one saw me.

9:45 a.m., weight room: Position meetings must be done because Dan Mullen is on the elliptical you can see on the second floor overlooking the weight room. He’s got his headphones in. I wonder what he’s listening to.

9:57 a.m., weight room: I could tell Court was getting anxious, ready for the players to get there and get the workouts started. He doesn’t seem like someone who very much likes wasting time. He had the place ready, now he just needed the people to run through the workout. He gave a strong punch to one of the hanging punching bags as he walked by. He was pacing, looking out the door, opening it, closing it, ready to go.

unnamed10 a.m., weight room: The workout begins. Things I haven’t seen elsewhere. 300-plus pound offensive linemen trying to balance one-legged on soft, unstable pads.

My favorite sight all day was when I happened up behind sophomore running back Ashton Shumpert, whose dreadlocks must increase the size of his helmet by at least a couple or few grades. He stood in perfect position with knees bent, stance wide and body completely still as he balanced small weights in each hand, slowly bringing them close to his chest, extending his arms back out, pushing them outward to his sides and then bringing them back in to start the circle over.

That muscle-bound running back was the picture of serenity amid the yelling, huffing and music surrounding him.

Once the warm-ups were done, Court met with the full offense/special teams group.

“We’ve only got 45 minutes. We’ve got the scrimmage tonight. Let’s get it right!

“The mind is just as important as the body. If your mind isn’t right, we’re gonna be 6-6.”

Once the weightlifting begins, Court transforms to maestro.

In the weight room, Court is a conductor, the players are his orchestra and weights are his instrument of his choice.

He runs from station to station, yelling, encouraging, teaching, correcting and blowing his whistle to let them know it’s time to move to the next one, which they sure as heck better run to.

Everything moves so fast in there. So structured. So organized.

The television screens have constantly rotating pictures. At one point, there was a slide of The Rock and Mark Wahlberg walking away from an explosion in sleeveless shirts.

In giant print on a poster on a wall are the words: “FATIGUE MAKES COWARDS OF US.”

Below that are racks of weights with dumbbells as heavy as 150 pounds, as if the idea of someone casually throwing around 150 pounds with one arm is normal enough to have those dumbbells waiting.

“Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!”

“Up! Down! Up! Down! Up! Down! Up! Down!”

One of the offensive linemen was dancing between sets on the bench to the music playing over the speakers and joking around with Court.

“Get on the bench,” Court told him with laughter in his voice. “When you weigh 315 pounds, then you can dance.”

Court followed up the command with a smile and patted his young lineman on the belly.

unnamed-110:45 a.m., weight room: It all went silent. The players were out and the music was off. The only sound was the staff putting all the weights and machines back in their place for the defense, who would be in shortly. It was during a conversation in this lull when I learned Court is from the Detroit area and actually played basketball growing up. In fact, in junior high, he had the unenviable task of guarding Shane Battier in the post.

11 a.m., weight room: The defensive players arrive as the offense is out on the turf practice field for a walk through. They may already be tired from their earlier walkthrough, but the defense got the better end of the deal. From the many-windowed weight room, I could see the heat of mid-day Mississippi sun coming off the ground. The haze makes it look like they’re on a TV with bad antenna reception.

On the inside, the same routine was run through again.

At one point, one of the cornerbacks couldn’t do shrugs because of some soreness in his shoulders. Court grabbed an elastic band and put one end under the guy’s shoes, the other cradled by the inside of his elbows, asking him to pull that way.

“Feel OK?”

“Good. Problem solving, baby.”

11:30 a.m., weight room: I don’t know why the thought struck me then, but as long as I’ve been around sports and covering MSU, I finally got something I never had. A thought clicked.

When players respond to outside criticism by saying, “They weren’t with us in the offseason,” this is what they mean. No one does see this stuff. Those on the outside just see the finished product.

This is why stars on the team shy away from individual attention or accolades when speaking with the press. Everyone in that room is doing the same work, putting in the same effort. None of the 105 players worked any less hard than anyone else. When someone asks a quarterback about how great he is individually, this is what he thinks about. These workouts. These afternoons on the practice fields. He doesn’t think about the sweat he broke. He thinks about the sweat of the 104 other people doing the same thing beside him.


On the way out of the weight room after the workout was finished, sophomore defensive lineman Chris Jones looked at the countdown clock to the season opener beside the door.

“15 days, six hours and 37 minutes!” he yelled.

12 noon, multipurpose room of Seal Complex: Lunch, thank goodness. I worked up an appetite just watching those guys.

And food, it turns out, was the main topic of conversation with Court (after he got a quick lift in himself). Or nutrition, more specifically.

MSU hired a nutritionist as camp began, one of many things Court has done to get his team as healthy as possible. He told me about the setup they have after practice, where they have tables full of fruit, Gatorade and shakes that players have to eat and drink from before they can get off the field.

Once in the locker rooms, there are more Gatorades, more shakes and more snacks. Fruit is the best kind for it’s simple sugars and high water content. They are keeping players hydrated, keeping them from losing too much weight and keeping their bodies in peak form.

“I’d venture to say we’ve got the best post-practice in the country,” Court told me.

They’ve got a snack room setup outside the weight room, stocked with healthy options. They weigh-in multiple times per day.

Court, who moved to Starkville and took this job at the beginning of the calendar year, has introduced what has turned out to be one of the most important additions to the team: hydration tests.

unnamed-4Before and after practice, every player is required to take the test. It’s pretty simple. At a table in the locker room, one of the strength coaches has a machine that checks hydration levels in a matter of seconds. You get one of three colored magnets next to your name on a board depending on the results: green for perfectly hydrated, yellow for slightly dehydrated and red to signify that you are in the danger zone.

They put me through the test: I’d just finished a cup of coffee and I was right on the line between hydrated and not hydrated, so I grabbed a Gatorade. Any player who gets yellow is made to drink one. Anyone who shows up in red must drink several, with the first one including a salt tablet to help retain the water.

Court and his staff will then follow up with those players shortly afterward in team meetings to make sure they’re hydrating properly.

“We haven’t had a single cramp so far in camp,” Court told me.

As a team, they’re only losing two pounds per practice, which is incredibly impressive. Court has stationed two trainers with every position group at practice, with three types of drinks available to them. He’s not messing around.

“We’re at the front, in terms of sports science,” he said.

Court has been working on things like this for years, though. He’s been learning everywhere he goes, researching ideas, looking into new practices and developments and taking notes on all of it, preparing for the day he was finally the head guy with the resources to do what he wants. Now, here at MSU, he has it, and he’s only just started implementing everything he wants. His thirst for knowledge lines up with his desire for hydration.

1:25 p.m., Court’s office:

“Let’s go mess with these guys!”

Court grabbed his bullhorn and headed down to the locker room. The players had meetings in five minutes and he was going to make sure they were all in attendance.

A swoled up man with a shaved head, trimmed beard and a T-shirt tucked into his baggy gym shorts, he was power-walking around the locker room with his deep voice booming, index finger pointing and bullhorn blaring repeatedly, surrounded by shuffling players and coaches walking around blowing their whistles and yelling that it was time for meetings.

1:30 p.m., upstairs at Seal Complex: Turns out, I happened to be there for picture day for the strength staff.

“I need the new staff picture for my mantle,” Court joked.

“We didn’t get a chance to do arms before the pictures,” one of his assistants lamented.

unnamed-2If I felt uncomfortable or out of place in the weight room, it was nothing to how this group felt as they posed for pictures. To cover for their discomfort and nerves, they made fun of each other in turn as each took his headshot.

“Watch this. We can make Stallworth laugh in his picture easy.”

2:00 p.m., Palmeiro Center: With a scrimmage that night in the stadium, the team had a special teams walk through in the afternoon to prepare, where the strength staff half observed and half interacted, serving as dummies for drills here and there.

4:00 p.m., locker room: Time for the hydration tests and weigh-ins. The scrimmage is at 6 and team meeting is at 5. If someone isn’t hydrated, this is the last chance to fix it before the pads go on.

5:00 p.m., team auditorium: Court and his staff are set up just inside the door to hand out Gatorades as the team meeting begins. Like Santa with his naughty-or-nice list, they know who needs to hydrate.

6:00 p.m., Davis Wade Stadium: The last big scrimmage of fall camp took place in the nearly-finished stadium they’ll return to in two weeks for the season opener. As the night begins, Court again stands at the front of all 105 players, conducting his physiological orchestra, leading the team in stretches before the scrimmage begins and the day comes to an end.

He’ll be back at it first thing tomorrow, and every day for the next five months straight, at least. It’s no wonder his voice is so hoarse.

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All-Time MSU Football Team: All-Purpose Player

Over the three weeks of fall camp, Mississippi State will be collecting votes and assembling an all-time MSU football team in honor of the 100th anniversary of Scott Field. Winners will be announced over the course of the season as the starters are filled in on both sides of the ball.

UOMEWLPBYGXCAGW.20120908182309Voting is simple: the candidates and their highlights are listed below, just vote for your choices in the poll.

Today, we are selecting one all-purpose player from the pool of candidates.

Tom ‘Shorty’ McWilliams 1944-47

Only Mississippi State player to eve receive a Heisman vote. Five combined punt/kickoff return touchdowns (1st all time)

David Smith 1968-70

3,572 all-purpose yards (6th), 80 rush, 2,168 receiving, 1,131 kickoff return, 193 punt return. 265 yards vs LSU in 1969 (6th-best single game) with -12 yards rushing, 102 receiving, 175 kickoff return

Walter Packer 1973-76

4,169 all-purpose yards (3rd), 2,820 yards rushing, 171 receiving, 1,166 kickoff return

Glen Young 1979-82

17.8 yards per play (1st, min. 150 plays) with 2,883 yards on 162 plays. 1,538 career kickoff return yards (3rd), 100 yard kick return against LSU in 1980 (T-1st)

Tony James 1989-92

3,973 all-purpose yards (4th), 218 rushing, 561 receiving, 1,862 kickoff return (2nd), 1,332 punt return (1st). 121 punt returns (1st) with 10.9 yards per return.

Kevin Prentiss 1997-98

1,852 all-purpose yards, 1,066 yards receiving, 70 rushing, 716 kickoff return, 383 punt return. 1,546 all-purpose yards in 1998 (2nd-best single season all-time), two kickoffs returned for touchdown (T-1st)

Fred Reid 2001-04

1,648 all-purpose yards, 996 rushing, 349 receiving, 1,303 kickoff return

LaDarius Perkins 2010-13

4,253 career all-purpose yards (2nd), 2,554 rushing yards, 714 receiving yards, 969 kickoff return yards. 319 all-purpose yards vs Ole Miss 2010 (2nd-most, single game) with 98 rush yards, 140 receiving, 65 kickoff return and 16 punt return

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Mississippi State finalizes 2014-15 basketball schedule; optimism runs through program

Friday evening, the Southeastern Conference officially released its league-wide basketball schedule for 2014-15 season. Given the time of announcement, you may very well have missed it, but with the announcement, Mississippi State’s basketball schedule is now complete.

rick-rayAs you may recall from relatively recent changes, SEC basketball has dropped divisions and instead each school has five opponents they play twice and face the other eight league teams once, completing the 18-game conference schedule.

MSU will obviously play Ole Miss twice, with the other four home-and-home opponents rounded out by Tennessee, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Arkansas. Between MSU and those teams, four of the five ‘Villes in the league are represented (Starkville, Knoxville, Nashville and Fayetteville), which is meaningless and nice all the same.

One important note comes on the heels of the conference’s biggest recent news: 12 of State’s games this season will be broadcast on the SEC Network. Additionally, the Bulldogs will play one game each on ESPNU and ESPN2, as well as four games on Fox Sports Net. All told, MSU has 18 games on TV, plus all non-TV home and conference games on SEC Network+.

Beyond the television and conference opponents, the entirety of the schedule – as we’ve mentioned before – speaks to the growing confidence Rick Ray has in his team. For the first time since he got to campus, he will actually have a full roster, as well as a relatively experienced one.

I’ve been around Ray and his players in the offseason and they are very serious about their belief that they will be a strong, competitive team, both in the SEC and outside of it.

The non-conference schedule includes the Corpus Christi Challenge and games against Utah State, Florida State and Oregon State (in addition to others, of course).

Ray’s quote in the release on the finalized schedule adds on to that a bit.

“My hope is that by increasing our non-conference strength of schedule that it will prepare us to have more success in the SEC,” said Ray, now entering his third season at the helm. “Our SEC schedule is challenging, but any schedule in a power conference is going to be challenging. We now have experienced players and depth which bodes well for us in our endeavors to climb the SEC ladder.”

He’s right on that last part, too. The experienced players and depth are now there, when they very clearly weren’t the first two years for him.

They have actual leaders now, as the core of Gavin Ware, Fred Thomas and Craig Sword are juniors, along with seniors Trivante Bloodman and Roquez Johnson. He’s also got a point guard he loves in IJ Ready, who enters the season healthy after an injury-riddled freshman year. He’s got serious post depth with signees and the availability of Fallou Ndoye, who had to sit out last year.

One of the most impressive players in practice is another one who was around but didn’t play last year – Travis Daniels, a JUCO transfer with size, ball skills and a pretty shot. He’s got the size of a post player with the talent of a guard, the kind of swing player Ray needs to run his offense effectively.

We’ve got a couple months until the season begins, but it ought to be the most entertaining (and anticipated) one of Ray’s career.

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‘The Bus’ Jerome Bettis surprises MSU’s football team

“Hi, I’m Jerome Bettis.”

As if the introduction was necessary.


unnamedThursday night, following the second of two training camp practices for Mississippi State, cornerbacks coach Deshea Townsend was scheduled to be the speaker in the team meeting.

“You guys relax,” Dan Mullen told all 105 players once they settled into their seats. “Eat. Listen.”

So Townsend spoke a little bit, aided by a presentation on the big screen, then said he had videos from some people who know what it takes to be a champion.

“These guys, I trust,” he said. “I broke bread with these guys.”

Up popped video of tight end Heath Miller catching passes for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Townsend’s old team. Miller had even recorded a message specifically for MSU and its players.

Next came highlights of Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor, two prolific members of that Steel Curtain defense from Townsend’s days. They, too, had a message taped for MSU.

“Only for you, Deshea,” Polamalu said, his arm around Taylor’s shoulders. “You raised us.”

Finally, big moments from the career of Jerome Bettis – The Bus – began playing. But after just a couple highlights, the video stopped and showed a message saying the file was corrupted.

All 105 players began booing, until the door at the front of the auditorium opened and Bettis himself walked to the front of the room.

The boos immediately turned to cheers and eventually subsided enough for him to needlessly introduce himself.

“I want to tell you guys about being a champion,” The Bus said.

He shared the story of growing up in Detroit with “a crackhouse on one side and nothing better on the other.”

unnamed-1He was the first in his family to go to college, and football was the reason why as he made his way to Notre Dame. Once he made it to the NFL, his stardom continued, though he’d never expected it to happen like that.

However, he wasn’t happy yet. In high school, college and then with the St. Louis Rams, he’d never found his way to a title.

“I was Rookie of the Year, but we didn’t win.”

He recounted how he then went to the Steelers, where his success continued, but he still hadn’t won a championship, and he wasn’t sure why.

“It wasn’t until I realized it’s not about my success,” he said. “It’s about the team’s success. When I realized that and showed my teammates, we started to win.”

The sixth-leading rusher in NFL history, Bettis rushed for over 10,000 yards in his career and will likely end up in the Hall of Fame.

But it was toward the end of that career, when most of those yards had already been accrued, that he finally got his championship, that he finally understood what it takes.

He’d been the starter, and the star, for years, but going into training camp one year, his coaches let him know that he wasn’t the starter anymore. One of the hot new youngsters was taking that role. A veteran with as much success as Bettis would’ve been well within his rights and boundaries to protest. But he didn’t. Instead, he pulled the kid aside and had a conversation with him.

“You’re the starter, but I’m gonna go out in practice every day and show the coaches they made a mistake,” Bettis remembers telling him. “Your job is to go out there and show the coaches they made the right decision.”

Bettis said the young man smiled, looked at him and understood what he meant.

“It brought the team together,” Bettis told MSU’s players. “That’s when we became a great team.”

unnamedThe point is to have a championship mindset and that championships are won by teams. Push yourself, push your teammates and be better.

“Seniors, stand up,” Bettis ordered after his story. “You all have a job. It’s your job to set the standard. It’s your football team. When you go to practice, everyone follows your lead. If someone slacks, that’s your fault.”

Next in line.

“Juniors, stand up. It’s your job to watch. Pay attention to the leaders. See the standard they set, then say that you’re going to raise it.”

And so it continued.

“Sophomores, get up. You’ve got the most important job. That freshman season is over. Now you have to produce. Potential is gone. That’s now. Show the juniors that you’re coming.”

In finale:

“Freshmen,” he began, allowing a pause for them all to stand. “People say you’re the future. No, you’re now. You’ve got to grow up fast. Until you know what you’re doing, you can’t reach your potential. You owe it to everyone in here to figure out how you can contribute. Make your name.”

Bettis spoke for a bit longer than that, sharing more stories, joking with Townsend and exhorting the Bulldogs who were so raptly paying attention.

It’s not a usual occurrence for something like that to happen, after all, The Bus striding into your meeting room and sharing the advice that got him where he is.

“You determine how great this team is going to be,” Bettis told them as he finished. “If you trust each other, stay committed to the process and love what you do, it can be a special year. Thank you.”

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All-Time MSU Football Team: Linebackers

Over the three weeks of fall camp, Mississippi State will be collecting votes and assembling an all-time MSU football team in honor of the 100th anniversary of Scott Field. Winners will be announced over the course of the season as the starters are filled in on both sides of the ball.

Johnie Cooks

Johnie Cooks

Voting is simple: the candidates and their highlights are listed below, just vote for your choices in the poll.

Today, we are selecting three linebackers from the pool of finalists.

  1. D. D. Lewis 1965-67

Member of College Football Hall of Fame, All-American 1967, member of MSU Ring of Honor, sixth round NFL Draft pick by Dallas Cowboys, Bear Bryant called him “the best linebacker in the country,” Vince Dooley called him the “best linebacker we faced.”

Ray Costict 1973-76

467 tackles (most in MSU history), consecutive games with 20-plus tackles in 1974, All-American 1976, All-SEC 1976, SEC Defensive Player of the Year 1976, 11th round NFL Draft pick 1977 by New England Patriots

Johnie Cooks 1977-81

392 tackles (5th all-time) 24 sacks (4th all-time), four interceptions, No. 2 overall pick in 1982 NFL Draft by Baltimore Colts, All-American 1981, Lombardi Award semifinalist 1981, member of MSU Ring of Honor

James Williams 1986-89

448 tackles (3rd all-time), 17 for loss, one sack, four fumble recoveries, All-SEC 1989, sixth round NFDL Draft pick by New Orleans Saints 1990

Reggie Stewart 1987-90

442 tackles (4th all-time), six for loss, one interception, one sack, three fumble recoveries. 1990 All-SEC

Daniel Boyd 1990-92

335 tackles (10th all-time), eight for loss, two fumble recoveries, one sack Two-time All-SEC 1991-92

Dwayne Curry 1993-96

391 tackles (6th all-time), 15.5 for loss, two sacks, four forced fumbles, four interceptions. Three-time All-SEC 1994-96

Paul Lacoste 1993-96

263 tackles, five for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles. All-SEC 1996, All-American 1996

Barrin Simpson 1996-99

245 tackles, 11 for loss, five sacks, three interceptions, two forced fumbles. Butkus Award semifinalist 1999, two-time all-SEC 1998-99

Mario Haggan 1999-02

306 tackles, 31.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, five forced fumbles, one interception. All-American 2000, three-time All-SEC 2000-02, 7th round NFL Draft pick by Buffalo Bills

KJ Wright 2007-10

258 tackles, 22.5 for loss, eight sacks, 14 passes defended, three forced fumbles. Fourth round NFL Draft pick by Seattle Seahawks 2010

Chris White 2009-10

185 tackles, 19.5 for loss, 6.5 sacks, two interceptions, six passes defended. 2010 Conerly Trophy winner, All-SEC 2010, sixth round NFL Draft pick by Buffalo Bills

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Details on plans for MSU’s new baseball stadium


Today, Mississippi State announced plans for a new Polk-Dement Stadium, a projected $40 million facility shown in the rendering above.

The goal, as athletic director Scott Stricklin has said, is for MSU to have the best facility in college baseball, in addition to the best atmosphere.

After studying, researching and going through feedback, Stricklin and those in the decision-making process decided the best option for MSU baseball was an entirely new facility and one which honored the tradition of the past and made the game more accessible for casual fans.

We’ll have more from Stricklin, John Cohen and others soon, but here are a few quick points in the meantime.

  • The new stadium will include an open-air concourse with a two-tiered grandstand, meaning visibility of the game from anywhere in the stadium (except bathrooms, of course).
  • The design team is made up of Wier Boerner Allin Architecure out of Jackson, Populous (who designed 20 of 30 current MLB stadiums, as well as TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha) and MSU alum Janet Marie Smith, the brainchild behind Baltimore’s Camden Yards.
  • The new facility will be built where the existing stadium stands now and construction will begin once MSU and the Bulldog Club secure an initial $20 million in giving, with the remaining $20 million to be recouped through ticket sales and premium seating.
  • Speaking of premium seating: the stadium plans include 25 skyboxes, including suites and loge seating, plus 25 “Left Field Lofts,” which are 1,000 sq. foot apartments behind Left Field Lounge, seen in the rendering above. They will be accessible year-round with two bedrooms, a bathroom a kitchen and a common room.
  • No, the Left Field Lounge isn’t going anywhere, but yes, it will change. Rather than the rigs currently in place, part of the new stadium design includes permanent structures. There are currently 86 spots sold in LFL, and there will be 86 permanent spots in the new facility, with the current 86 having first dibs, as well as plans to let the owners customize and choose their own floor plans.
  • They will have additional amenities (such as access to electricity and storage). The spots will likely be open year-round for seating and tailgating for things like fall baseball or football tailgating.
  • The new Left Field Lounge will have also have a walkway through the middle where those who do not know lounge owners can walk through and not block anyone’s view.
  • The plan is for MSU to continue play at Dudy Noble Field, even during construction, though construction timelines and plans are not finalized.
  • The facility will include new locker rooms, training rooms, equipment rooms and potentially coaches’ offices.
  • Polk-Dement Stadium will now have two main entrances: one behind home plate and one in right field with a large entry plaza
  • Capacity figures are not yet available, but the new grandstand will hold more than the current one does and the outfield will hold “the same amount or more”. There will also be berm (hillside) areas down the far ends of the foul lines for families, groups or individuals. There will also be more significant areas for standing-room-only. Additionally, the facility will have a children’s area with slides, etc.
  • There will, of course, be additional and bigger concession areas and restrooms, both in the grandstand and outfield.
  • Those who bought one-time tickets when the stadium was constructed in the ‘80s (about 3,500 seats, currently), will A) be guaranteed the opportunity to purchase chairbacks in the new stadium and B) will receive credit and consideration for gifts associated with their original chairback gift.
  • The new facility will include a new HD video board, ribbon boards and field lighting.






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New MSU nutritionist changing up football training camp

Fall camp can be a bit of a conundrum for 300-plus pound football players at Mississippi State. On the one hand, two-a-days under the August sun can feel like a form of torture. On the other, it results in the realization of a dream: eating, eating, eating and then eating some more. Followed by more eating.

unnamedThe upside to burning so many calories on practice fields and in weight rooms is getting to eat them back onto their bodies. The amount depends on the player and position, but the intake over the course of any day of camp is quite substantial, and a great deal more than the average 20-year-old. Breakfast, snack, snack, lunch, snack, snack, dinner, snack…. it’s a lot of food, and someone has to make sure they’re both doing and doing it right.

To help facilitate those nutritional needs, and the similar needs of all of MSU’s 16 teams, the athletic department has hired a sports dietician – Kelly White, who joins the staff after working in a similar capacity at Oktibbeha County Hospital.

White will obviously have a big role in helping players across the department to gain weight, lose it or just maintain where they are, depending on their need and the directive of their sport and position. But a big part of her job is education. Making sure football players know what a healthy plate at the cafeteria looks like and that they’re not just eating 5,000 calories of greasy burritos.

Ensuring the baseball team knows what time of day to eat which types of food (low fat foods and complex carbs before practice, simple sugars after). She’s even taken softball players on grocery shopping tours.

White started at MSU shortly after football training camp began, so it’s there where much of the early focus has been, and she’s moved pretty quickly.

Outside the weight room in the Seal Complex, MSU now has a fueling station (and will put them in outside other weight rooms, as well) to keep players hydrated and fed.

Recovery drinks, smoothies, snack mixes, fruit, milk and cereal, goldfish or pretzels – pretty much any snack or need players have – all available, with someone there to make sure they are partaking.

Recent NCAA legislation allowing for unlimited food and snacks has actually made that job much easier for people like White, giving her more variety to work with.

“More than just bagels, nuts and peanut butter,” White joked. “Giving them more of a choice and variety will keep them into snacking on foods that we’re offering and hopefully preventing them going out and getting unhealthy snacks.”

Another new addition comes in the stations set up after practice to keep players hydrated and fueled.

After each go-round on the field, multiple tables full of goods stand between players and the entrance to the facility, with another handful of staff members making sure everyone gets what they need.

The tables are packed with strawberries and blueberries, pineapples and pickles, bananas, apples and an endless supply of Gatorade.

It’s nice to have good food to eat, sure, but it’s important to their health, especially with what players put their bodies through.

And it’s also a sneaky way for White to control their intake.

“The fruit,” she said, “not only does it have simple carbohydrates, it also has a very high water content. So they don’t really know they’re drinking water, but they are. Anything that can help improve their performance is what we want.”

During these weeks of hot, hard camp, players are required to weigh in three times per day to make sure they haven’t lost [or gained] too much weight and are staying on their guided, healthy course. If something is off, White and the strength coaches and trainers get it fixed.

Say a lineman weighs too little after practice – he has to put the weight back on by weigh-in the next morning.

Of course, that can be easy enough to do, considering how much there is to eat.

On a given day, White says she’ll go through around eight boxes of cereal (just as a snack, not from breakfast), four table-sized trays of fruit, eight jars of pickles and as many as 200 Gatorade shakes. And those are the grab-at-your-own-leisure snacks.

In addition to the food lying around, MSU has bigger planned snacks delivered at different points during the day. Then, after all of those, they finally have their actual breakfasts lunches and dinner.

“Imagine Stromboli’s setting up 125 calzones for a snack,” White explained. “Then they go to the Hilton and eat a catered dinner. It’s a lot.”

Having a nutritionist is a new position for MSU, as well as a job many athletic departments across the country are adding, and it seems to be paying off quickly.

Weights are steady, cramps are down and spirits are up. At least at dinner time.

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