April 21, 2011 9:12:00 AM
For all of the things Chris Relf has done right in the past year, one would figure his job would be safe.
The Mississippi State quarterback built off a breakout 2010 season and had a solid spring practice. MSU coach Dan Mullen even admitted Relf didn''t do anything to hurt his status as No. 1 quarterback.
Mullen addressed his quarterback group, which includes sophomore Tyler Russell and freshman Dylan Favre, on Wednesday on a Southeastern Conference coaches'' spring teleconference.
"The competition is wide open," Mullen said. "Chris Relf did a good job this spring. I don''t know if he''s separated himself from all the other guys, but he has the experience and has played the games and has done nothing to not be our top quarterback at this point."
So why not just name Relf the starter? He''s the senior of the group. He''s the most versatile and gives the team an extra running back with his 6-foot-4, 240-pound frame. He completed 58 percent of his passes last season and threw for twice as many touchdowns as interceptions.
Statistically, he had the best season of any MSU quarterback since Kevin Fant threw for 2,002 yards in 2003.
This spring, there weren''t questions about Relf''s decision-making or his development into an SEC quarterback. All that''s left is to keep pumping mechanics and developing chemistry with MSU''s wideouts, with whom he has worked for two seasons with Mullen.
As for receivers, Mullen said no one from the sophomore and junior-led group has taken the next step to becoming a "primo" receiver.
That said, Relf had his best passing performances of his career at the end of last season, clearing 220 yards or more in each game and completing more than 65 percent of his throws.
Realistically, Russell, based on his early rotation with Relf last season, is No. 2 on the depth chart followed by Favre, who redshirted last season. But even that notion isn''t safe.
"Tyler and Dylan are still competing, still improving," Mullen said. "They made big strides this spring, and there''s a long time until we have to play games, so it''ll be interesting to see the improvement these guys make on their own. There''s so much development that has to happen on their own."
Mullen bullish on injury information
MSU''s leading receiver from a year ago, Chad Bumphis, was diagnosed with a sprained ankle Tuesday after saying he''d broken the ankle and would need surgery Monday night.
When asked about the severity of the sprain - what grade and how long the recovery time would be -- Mullen refused to comment.
"We don''t discuss injuries," Mullen said. "It''s a policy in our program."
Mullen teetered with this policy last season and in the spring. However, after answering nearly all the injury-related questions thrown his way this spring, he called the inquiries "silly" after one of the later practices.
Then, during his post-spring news conference, he gave timetables for injured starters Gabe Jackson and Tobias Smith, as well as a targeted return date for running back Nick Griffin, who had anterior cruciate ligament surgery April 1.
Whether Mullen relents on his policy in the future remains to be seen, but one constant during his tenure has been a gag order on players talking about injuries, which makes Bumphis'' announcement on Twitter unusual.