30 July 2011
OK, so the summer dead-time is over and it's time to end my hiatus and get ready for some football.
There are five players I think warrant discussion to kick off preseason discussion, so here goes:
Brandon Maye: This is by far the biggest and most exciting news in the offseason. The three-year ACC starting LB has graduated with one year of football eligibility and will transfer to State for that final year while attending graduate school via the Houston Nutt loophole (only without the illegitimacy). Maye shined as a freshman and sophomore but his numbers dipped a little when he was moved his Jr year to weakside LB. This guy is not a weakside LB. Although Mullen, naturally, has made no promises the addition of this kid is huge. He fills a big void at LB left from graduation and brings a lot of experience to a very young linebacking corps. He seems to be a natural defensive leader. And, most important, he has great character. He is the quintessential student-athlete that we all want representing the People's University. The only potential roadblock is his application to the NCAA to waive the one-year sitout period normally required for transfers. His request is a no brainer and fits into the NCAA bylaw requirement, but you never know with the NCAA. Hopefully nothing will slow his transfer down. I can't wait to see him on the field carrying on the MSU tradition of producing outstanding linebackers.
Nick Griffin: From excitement to disappointment. The freshman RB was showing great promise in the spring until he suffered a torn ACL in late March. The expected recovery from this injury is 6-8 months, but in reality a running back will need much longer. I'm not an orthopedist, but I must say the chances of Nick returning to play (much less contribute significantly) in the 2011 season are slim. He is looking at a lot of rehab and strengthening to get back to pre-injury form. Personally, I think the best option here is for State to pursue a medical redshirt and preserve 4 full years of eligibility for this young man. He has the goods and he has the character. He will do great things at State so long as his recovery isn't rushed. I think it's best to write off 2011 and target 2012 for a return when State will have to replace both Vick Ballard and Robert Elliot. For now, the Dogs have Ballard, Perkins and Elliot at RB, and Adrian Marcus is showing some good potential as well. It'd be nice to have Griffin for 2011, but we don't need him, not while risking his football future. Let's do the right thing and go for the medical redshirt.
Marcus Green: The star TE went down last year with a knee injury and his recovery has been tedious (furthering my argument for Griffin above). In the spring he said he was 65%. A full 100% recovery is not a given. To say the least, this will be an important factor for MSU in 2011. With Green on the field he presents some very tough matchup problems for the defense. There aren't many linebackers in the SEC who can cover him, and he's a big target for Relf with soft hands. We missed him badly in the Arkansas game last year. Let's keep our fingers crossed for this guy. It'd be a beautiful sight to see him back to full form in September.
James Carmon: We need this guy to come through. For those who don't know, he moved from DL to Left Tackle, one of the most important positions on the offense...the one who protects Relf's blindside. Carmon has the size and the physical skill, but the question is whether he can learn the position in time. The good news is that he appears to be dedicated and working hard at it. He has bought in fully to Mullen's decision to move him across the line and that's key. He has had all summer and is working with some very good offensive coaches to learn what he needs to learn. Early indicators are promising as Mullen has said that his pass blocking looks good. That's most important for the LT. But will his run-blocking catch up? That's what we need to find out, especially if Green doesn't get back to form and MSU doesn't utilize the TE as much (the TE could help Carmon with run-blocking). If nothing else, State may stay away from running left for the first few weeks but we certainly don't want that kind of limitation.
Robert Elliott: If there ever was an example of unrealized potential it's this guy. He was a highly touted recruit and many of us thought he was the next Keffer. But it never happened that way. He's been hobbled by a few injuries and at moments it seemed he was on his way to the greatness we all that was capable. But something always seemed to trip him up. There isn't a fan among us who doesn't want to see Elliott triumph. If not a great season, perhaps he could have a great game, or just one great moment. I know he will always look back on his college career with some degree of disappointment. But you have one year left, Robert, and this Bulldog fan is pulling for you. Here's hoping you get to have that moment. We will all be proud.