“Where’s Bob? Bob, I’ve got a job for you.”
Dan Mullen wanted one thing when he got to Hoover for his sixth SEC Media Days.
“We need to figure out how to get Chipotle delivered.”
He had to wait until the end of the day to get it, but Mullen’s appetite was finally satiated.
After he’d spoken to 1,000 or so reporters, camera people, producers, hosts and personalities as he wound his way through the Winfrey Hotel.
We’ll have more extensive reporting of MSU’s trip to the unofficial kickoff of college football, but until then, a few notes to review and things we learned throughout the day, moving chronologically through my notebook of the day’s events and quotes.
– The first thing worth noting came in the second interview for Dak Prescott, this one on Sirius/XM, when Greg McElroy left Steve Spurrier’s interview early because he “had to meet” Dak Prescott. McElroy was beyond effusive in his praise of MSU, Dak, the offense, the defense and really everything about the Bulldogs.
“You guys have that blue collar approach,” he said, “but you have some of the best weapons in the SEC.”
In particular, McElroy loves senior tight end Malcolm Johnson and sophomore receiver De’Runnya Wilson.
– One highlight was hearing players talk about the young guys who have impressed them. Asked about the offensive line in general, Prescott immediately began praising sophomore Jamaal Clayborn, the man tasked with replacing Gabe Jackson. It’s not the first and I’m guessing it won’t be the last time we hear Clayborn’s teammates speak highly of him. Both Prescott and Mullen went out of their way to mention Wilson, too.
True freshmen who have caught the eyes of elders: linebacker Gerri Green and running back Aeris Williams, according to Prescott, then safety Brandon Bryant and Green again, according to Jay Hughes.
– In general, Prescott had a lot of good things to say about State’s defense, offering very positive reviews of Geoff Collins’ unit. He also said he believes MSU’s secondary to be among the fastest in the nation.
“I have unbelievable confidence in my defense,” Prescott said. “I think our they’re the best defense in the SEC.”
– On the offensive side, Prescott told ESPN he has high expectations for junior running back Josh Robinson.
“His streak of pride, his style of play, isn’t something you see often. He can be really good.”
– Speaking of expectations, that was the big topic of the day for MSU. Can they meet them? Can they exceed them? And really, what are they?
“The SEC is wide open,” Mullen said. “No one was picking Auburn this time last year.”
Prescott, Hughes and Benardrick McKinney all had similar feelings on the topic as they spent the day telling question-askers what their expectations are.
One exchange between Prescott and a CBS reporter summed it up.
CBS: “What are your expectations for the season?”
Dak: “Win every game.”
That was the primary story for State Tuesday and likely will continue to be as a much-hyped season draws closer.
– As for Prescott himself, he says the main thing he’s been working on all offseason is his footwork. He did well as a passer last year, but says that if you look at the throws he missed, his footwork was generally the culprit.
Working with new quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson has helped him with that.
So much so, in fact, that Mullen alluded to the idea of taking more deep shots down the field than usual.
“He’s a much better passer this season,” Mullen said of his quarterback.
– As for Hughes, his excitement is all about getting back on the field. Save for a few plays, it’s been nearly two years since he last stepped on the grass for a game. His hunger, as you’d imagine, is strong.
One reporter observed that Hughes was fun and games, laughing and enjoying himself, when the topics were off the field. As soon as the football conversation began, this reporter said, he got quiet, emotional even, and very serious. Football means a great deal to him.
While he’s been watching, however, he’s seen some things.
Of note, he’s been overly impressed with sophomore defensive lineman Chris Jones.
“Chris Jones, Chris Jones,” Hughes began. “That dude is phenomenal. He’s a freak. I love watching him play.”
– We’ll have more from Hoover tomorrow in the form of video and story.