October 17, 2012 9:51:46 PM
Matthew Stevens - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- Don't tell Tyler Russell he's about to receive serious national attention following Mississippi State University's fast start to the 2012 season.
He's just not interested.
"I don't pay any mind to that," Russell said Tuesday. "As long as we keep taking care of business that's all I care about."
Despite his less than obvious objections this week, Russell was named to the Manning Award watch list Wednesday.
After being one of only five quarterbacks this season with 10-plus passing touchdowns and less than two interceptions, Russell was named to watch list by the Allstate Sugar Bowl committee. In the award's ninth year, Russell is the first player in school history to make the prestigious watch list.
"I said this earlier but a lot of guys on this team are going to get national attention because that comes with being 6-0 in the SEC," Russell said. "This is the reason we came and the reason I personally came to Mississippi State."
Under the leadership of Russell behind center, the Bulldogs' offense has scored at least 25 points in each of the first six games for the first time in the 113 years of the program. In three SEC games this season, Russell is 66-of-105 (62.8 percent) for 782 yards, seven touchdowns and zero interceptions.
"I've told all the guys to not think they're not going to get the ball thrown to them," Russell said.
The Meridian High School standout has only started only 10 games in his still-young career but has already tossed 25 touchdown passes, which is tied for sixth on the school's all-time list. The junior has also entered the school's top 10 lists in passing yardage (3,051), and his passer efficiency and completion percentage would both rank near the top of each category but he doesn't qualify because of minimum attempts.
Russell is on pace to top the school single-season record in completions, attempts, passing yardage and touchdowns.
"I think he was very balance (Saturday against the University of Tennessee)," MSU head coach Dan Mullen said. "Eight different people caught a pass and that's really hard for other teams. If they're going to take something away, that's fine because we'll just go to another aspect. Seeing all of those guys perform keeps us balanced on offense."
The Manning Award is the only quarterback award that includes the candidates' bowl performances in its balloting. After announcing 25 quarterbacks to watch during the preseason, the Manning Award opted to increase its focus players based on the many outstanding performances during the first half of the year. Russell's six game start, which has allowed the 15th-ranked Bulldogs (6-0, 3-0 in Southeastern Conference) to only the school's third ever six-game winning streak to start a season.
Ten finalists will be determined by a selected panel of national media covering college football, as well as each member of the Manning family. The list will be released on Wednesday, Nov. 28. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, Jan. 9.
MSU to play Alcorn State as FCS opponent in 2013
MSU has completed its 2013 football schedule with the announcement of its seventh home game of the season Wednesday afternoon. The Bulldogs will take on Alcorn State University in Starkville at Davis Wade Stadium on Sept. 7, 2013. For the fourth time in five years, MSU will once again play a non-conference football game against an in-state university.
As part of a single-game contract, MSU will pay Alcorn State $350,000 for the game.
"It remains important to us to schedule teams from the state of Mississippi," MSU Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin said in a university statement. "We've played Jackson State and Alcorn State and have Southern Miss on the schedule in coming years. We feel it benefits Mississippi State University, as well as our opponents and the state of Mississippi."
The news of the game against Alcorn State means MSU's previously scheduled trip to play the University of Alabama at Birmingham is now cancelled. The Bulldogs are still expected to play MSU in Starkville on Sept. 6, 2014.
Mississippi State previously announced a non-conference matchup with Oklahoma State in the Texas Kick Off, which will be played at Houston's Reliant Stadium on August 31.
10 MSU football commits selected to play in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star game: Nine in-state verbal commitments to MSU's 2013 recruiting class were selected to the prestigious Mississippi-Alabama All-Star game Wednesday afternoon.
MSU out-distanced in-state rivals University of Southern Mississippi (four) and the University of Mississippi (one) in total selections.
MSU also has a verbal commitment from Oxford (Ala.) defensive end Trent Simpson, who will be on the roster for Team Alabama.
The game, which is scheduled for Dec. 15 in Montgomery, Ala., will have the following MSU verbal commitments on the roster for the Magnolia State: West Bolivar tailback Kailo Moore, Biloxi wide receiver Scott Austin, Columbus offensive lineman Jake Thomas, Hollandale-Simmons offensive lineman Kent Flowers, South Panola offensive lineman Deon Mix, Houston defensive lineman Chris Jones, Starkville quarterback Gabe Myles (who will play defensive back), Tylertown quarterback Tyreone Holmes (who will play defensive back) and Bogue Chitto defensive back Brandon Wells.