One of the top storylines throughout Mississippi State’s spring practice was its crowded quarterback battle. With record-setting starter Dak Prescott now in the NFL, four passers are in contention to lead the Bulldogs’ offense this fall.
There is no shortage of candidates on the team’s roster. Damian Williams served as the team’s starter in the 2013 Egg Bowl, but isn’t built like a prototypical quarterback. Nick Fitzgerald, the redshirt freshman who was the first off the bench for Prescott last season, and Elijah Staley are two young prospects who could earn the role. Freshman Nick Tiano spent last season as a redshirt, but figures to be heavily in the mix as well.
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen shed some light on his team’s competition in the spring during Thursday’s SEC coaches teleconference.
“I don’t think anybody clinched the job, and I don’t think anybody put themselves out of consideration for the job,” Mullen said. “I think all four guys are continuing to battle, and I think the thing for them is going to be over these next couple of months.
“I think this is an unbelievable opportunity for all four of them [and] for one of the four to go separate themselves in their work ethic and their grind and their commitment to excellence between the end of spring and the start of summer. And I’m hoping at least one or two of them start to separate themselves in the work they put in this summer when we show up for fall camp.”
Although Mullen would like to see one of the competing quarterbacks earn the job through the work put in over the summer, he said he did not want to put a timetable on any decision.
That timetable could potentially extend into the regular season. In an effort to best evaluate the team’s options behind center, Mullen said he remains open to carrying the competition into Mississippi State’s live action.
“One of the parts that you have to be as a head coach is you’ve got to be very flexible because no situations are ever the same,” Mullen said about carrying the Bulldogs’ quarterback battle into fall games. “This year’s quarterback scenario, right now with it being the question marks up in the air, we’re going to just kind of sort through it until someone’s separated themselves who’s given us the best opportunity to win. …
“We’re going to sort that out and … if it’s decided at the end of the first week of training camp, or the third week of training camp, or game week or game four of the season, we’re going to have to be able to adjust and do what’s best for the team.”