August 3, 2013 11:38:06 PM
Matthew Stevens - firstname.lastname@example.org
STARKVILLE -- Just call him DJ Dan Mullen.
For the first time in five years of running fall football camp at Mississippi State University, the Bulldogs' head coach has decided to use music speakers to pump up the volume at practice.
For individual drills and certain segments of MSU's two-hour practices, Mullen has had music at its loudest setting in the hopes of helping the players to focus.
The music selection for the first three days of practice has included songs by Eminem, Metallica, The Zac Brown Band, U2, and Dropkick Murphy's.
MSU receivers coach Billy Gonzalez joked that the change to allow music is a generational thing that his staff had to get used to attract future recruits.
"Every one of y'all when you were driving down the street at that age would probably tend to turn the music up a little loud while rolling the windows down," Gonzales said. "What motivates a young guy? I'm not 45 yet, but our coaching staff ranges toward that age, and we have to change it up a bit."
Gonzales is his first season at MSU, but he coached with Mullen at the University of Florida (2005-08), at the University of Utah (2003-04), and at Bowling Green State University (2001-02). He believes playing the music a win-win because it prepares his players for road environments in the Southeastern Conference and it gives them a reason to stay energized at practice.
"There was a old school song on there today and all my players in the receivers group were shouting, 'Coach, you picked that song,' " Gonzales said when "Don't Stop Believing" from Journey was played. "No, I didn't pick it, but it was sure old school."
Russell mentors freshman Williams in split-squad practices
The MSU coaches did their best Friday morning to cut the first split-squad practices of the season between starters and newcomers. The split sessions gave freshman quarterback Damian Williams a chance to watch, to learn, and to understand the finer points of being a starting quarterback in the Southeastern Conference from fifth-year senior Tyler Russell.
"Just don't get frustrated," Russell said were his words of encouragement to Williams through the first two days of practice. "You're not going to get everything down yet, and nobody expects you to. I went through the same process. It's the same for everybody, being really good in high school and then you come to the Southeastern Conference and things get faster and over your head."
Mullen spent a majority of his Friday morning working with Williams, a late signee from Metairie, La., who originally committed to the University of Southern Mississippi, on his mechanics in individual and team drills. Williams threw for 2,748 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushed for 932 yards and 23 touchdowns at Archbishop Rummel High School in the New Orleans area.
"I just told him to take your time, watch me, and if you need anything I'll help you out, but I have to say he's been learning real fast, so that's been good for both of us," Russell said.
Instead of having just one scholarship quarterback in the spring, MSU offensive coordinator Les Koenning has three -- Russell, third-year sophomore Dak Prescott, and Williams -- to work with in training camp, and the depth is noticeable.
"I thought today was great because it was great teaching by Tyler and a great learning experience for Damian just to see how things are done," Koenning said. "When we split up practices, it gives us a lot of chances to teach. It's one thing to put it on the board in the meeting room, but it's quite another to get it done on the field."
Son of former NFL player Randall Cunningham offered by MSU
According to a report Saturday, MSU is attempting to sign a player with an exciting NFL bloodlines.
The Sun-Herald in Biloxi reported MSU and LSU have offered a scholarship to quarterback prospect Randall Cunningham Jr.
As a quarterback in the NFL for 16 seasons, Cunningham's father, Randall had 29,979 yards and 207 touchdowns and completed 56.6 percent of his passes. He is second all-time in NFL history for rushing yards by a quarterback with 4,928. He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and a All-Pro team selection in 1998.
Baylor University, Syracuse University, Arizona State University, and the University of Nevada Las Vegas, his father's alma mater, also have offered Cunningham Jr.
In limited action last season, as he backed up University of Arizona signee Anu Solomon at Bishop-Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Cunningham went 21 of 32 for 298 yards and two touchdowns and four interceptions.
247Sports.com rates Cunningham Jr. as a three-star prospect and the 17th-best dual-threat quarterback in the country.