Friday, February 22, 2013
Offseason spotlight: Mississippi State
By Chris Low
Our offseason spotlight series shifts today to Mississippi State, which is coming off its third straight winning season. The last time the Bulldogs had three straight winning seasons was 1997-2000 under Jackie Sherrill, when they had four in a row.
Spotlight: Receiver Robert Johnson, 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, rising junior
2012 summary: Johnson played in all 13 games and caught 17 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns. He also returned eight kickoffs for a 21.8-yard average.
The skinny: The good news for the Bulldogs is that senior quarterback Tyler Russell returns in 2013, and was one of the most improved quarterbacks in the SEC last season. He passed for 2,897 yards and 24 touchdowns. However, all of his top receiving targets are gone, which is where Johnson and anybody else who can make a play in the passing game come in. Johnson is the Bulldogs' leading returning wide receiver after playing behind Chad Bumphis, Chris Smith and Arceto Clark last season. His challenge this spring and offseason is to go from a serviceable backup to a player the Bulldogs can count on as a consistent contributor in their passing attack. Getting the right chemistry down with Russell will obviously be important for Johnson over the next six months as well as proving to the coaches that he can get open and make big catches in traffic. The 6-1, 220-pound Johnson has the size to be an inviting target for Russell. He just needs to take that next step into the role of a starter. He'll have a couple guys pushing him this spring, too, namely junior college transfer Jeremey Chappelle and sophomore Joe Morrow. Freshman Fred Ross will also push for a spot in the rotation once he gets on campus this summer.