April 15, 2009
STARKVILLE -- Kyle Roberts is happy to be practicing football in Oktibbeha County again.
After taking a detour to East Mississippi Community College for two years, the former East Oktibbeha High School player has walked on at Mississippi State for spring practice.
Roberts has been primarily a slot receiver in Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen''s spread offense and has worked his way up to second team.
"This is where I''ve always wanted to be," Roberts said. "I''ve been a life-long Mississippi State fan. I''ve wanted to be home."
Being in the slot, Roberts'' role is to catch short passes..
Roberts is thankful for the opportunity to compete and show his skills.
At one point during Tuesday''s practice, Roberts made a one-handed grab near the sideline.
"Hopefully, I can earn that scholarship at the end the spring," Roberts said. "If I get that scholarship, it will be like heaven. As long as I can do what coach tells me to do, I''ll be fine."
Roberts is excited about the reps he is getting as a member of the second-team.
Mullen likes what he has seen of Roberts and other walk-ons like fullbacks Sylvester Hemphill and Patrick Hanrahan, a transfer from Alabama.
"The guys walking on are making impacts and earning spots," Mullen said. "That''s going to be a key thing for us. We should have a real quality walk-on program at this school, get some great players to come in and earn scholarships while they are here."
Although they don''t engage in much conversation on the field, Roberts says he is beginning to develop a relationship with Mullen.
Roberts has acquired the nickname "new guy" this spring and that''s fine with him. He just wants to do enough on the field to be a permanent player.
"That''s something to think about," Roberts said. "If I''m the new guy out here, maybe I can do some things to make a new name for me."
With only two more practices before Saturday''s Maroon-White spring game, Roberts and the Bulldogs concentrated on third-down situations during Tuesday''s session.
Mullen said third down is important on both sides of the football.
"That''s a key down," Mullen said. "You have to be able to stay on the field on offense and you have to get off the field on defense so we''re going to work them real hard on third downs all of the way.
"If you look statistically, whoever wins the league championship is usually pretty good on third down."
Mississippi State''s final two practices will be at 3:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday. The spring game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Saturday as part of Super Bulldog Weekend.