STARKVILLE – Mississippi State completed its first practice of preseason camp with a workout in helmets and shorts that lasted just over two hours on Monday afternoon at the Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex.
The entire 105 roster practiced together for the first time since the April 18 spring game. It was the first of 29 workouts leading up to the Sept. 5 season-opener at Southern Miss. Seventh-year head coach Dan Mullen was enthused about the energy surrounding Monday’s return of football.
“It’s good to be back out there,” Mullen said. “As a coach this is part of the stuff you love, being out on the field and coaching football, especially coming off of summer. You have been away from a break; you have a lot of new faces out there, some young people and some older faces that you’re going to see hopefully take a step forward in their careers this year. It’s a pretty exciting time. It was good energy out there today.”
Making his return to the practice field was senior safety Kendrick Market, who suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in last November’s Egg Bowl.
“He’s played a lot of football for us,” said Mullen. “It’s great to see him back there and feeling healthy and confident. We want to make sure we take care of him so he will be ready to play.”
The veteran Market has been a steady leader throughout his career, starting 16 games and seeing action in 37 contests dating back to 2012.
“I was excited,” added Market. “I have rehabbed every day, up to three times a day. So I knew I would come back fast. I was jogging and running on it. I made it through the summer pretty well.”
Mullen said he is eager to see the competition play out at running back. The group of Ashton Shumpert, Dontavian Lee and Aeris Williams features contrasting styles.
“It’ll be interesting to see if someone separates themselves,” said Mullen. “Guys are competing for reps at this point, but if someone separates themselves as it continues to go they’re going to get the majority of the reps. I think with the different skills sets the guys have they bring something different to the table.”
The Bulldogs will go through split-squad practices on Tuesday with the majority of the veterans participating in the morning followed by a more teaching-intensive workout in the afternoon with the younger players. Both practices will feature helmet and shorts.