April 23, 2009
Even though he was not in town to see it, Mississippi State Athletic Director Greg Byrne could not have been more proud of the turnout for Super Bulldog Weekend.
Byrne, who spent the weekend in Oregon after learning of the death of his father-in-law, followed what happened in Starkville from a distance.
He was impressed with the 31,606 fans who watched the Maroon-White Football Game and the 10,210 who watched the MSU-Kentucky baseball game Saturday.
"The fanbase was just incredible," Byrne said. "To have 30,000-plus fans at the spring football game, over 10,000 for baseball and take it all in, was great.
"We probably would have had a few more if the weather had been clear and sunny for sure, but it says a lot about the Mississippi State fanbase and its resiliency and pride they have in their school. We appreciate everyone''s wonderful support."
Byrne credits the excitement football coach Dan Mullen, baseball coach John Cohen, men''s basketball coach Rick Stansbury, and women''s basketball coach Sharon Fanning are providing.
Byrne said MSU already is making plans to make Super Bulldog Weekend bigger and better next year.
He said his department is focusing on how to promote the upcoming football season and to complete the spring sports season as strong as possible.
On the clock
It appears special teams might be the best spot suited for former MSU football player Derek Pegues, of Batesville, in the National Football League.
Pegues will get the most attention of any Bulldog during this weekend''s NFL draft.
Reed Stringer, who worked as the special teams for former coach Sylvester Croom, believes Pegues'' versatility could attract NFL teams.
"The NFL likes is when you do different things and especially when you can be a special teams player," Stringer said. "One of the things about Derek was for four years, he was our punt returner and kickoff returner. He broke the SEC record for the most kick returns in a career. If you think of the guys in this league, that''s a big deal."
Pegues returned 112 kickoffs for 2,498 yards and 79 punts for 792 yards and two touchdowns. He had his best season in kickoff returns as a senior, with 31 returns for 708 yards. His best punt return season came in 2006, with 25 returns for 350 yards, an average of 14 yards per return.
Pegues also made 146 total tackles and had 12 interceptions.
The Sporting News latest mock draft had Pegues going to Seattle with the fourth pick in the third round and 68th overall. Scouts Inc. rates him the 145th best pro prospect, and 11th best safety.
Stringer said the durability Pegues showed in college should serve him well on the next level.
"He''s got the size and can handle the hitting because when you return kicks in the NFL, you''re going to get pounded," Stringer said. "He has the ability to withstand that."
Stringer thinks Pegues has the ability to be a return specialist in the NFL or a gunner (run down and make tackles) on a punt team.
Other former Bulldogs who might get an NFL look are linebacker Dominic Douglas and safety Keith Fitzhugh.
Fitzhugh was projected to be taken in the seventh round by Buffalo in the latest Sporting News mock draft.
As the 10th-seeded MSU men''s tennis team (6-14, 2-9 Southeastern Conference) prepares to take on host Auburn at the SEC Championships at 3 p.m. today, coach Per Nilsson believes improved health will give his team a better chance to compete.
Getting freshman Daniel Sanchez back from meniscus surgery will help his team''s depth.
"We''re hoping for a fresh start," Nilsson said. "We finally got Daniel back for the Ole Miss match. He''s not 100 percent, but he''s getting better every day. When we had him in the lineup, we felt pretty strong. When he went down it hurt us a lot."
Sanchez was playing at No. 2 singles at the time of his injury and had to sit out five weeks following surgery.
Against Ole Miss, Sanchez moved better than he thought. The inactivity during rehabilitation was a setback, but he has worked to get back to where he was.
"I am getting in shape," Sanchez said. "For about four weeks, I didn''t do anything. When you are in rehab, you can''t do too much. I started conditioning last week and starting working in the pool, and I''m getting better."
The 12th-seeded MSU women (10-9, 1-9) started SEC Championship play at 10:30 a.m. today against Vanderbilt in Fayetteville, Ark.
Q: While on an official or unofficial visit, can Mississippi State University and/or its fans alumni or boosters identify or utilize personalized recruiting aids for prospects?
A: No, the university may not arrange miscellaneous, personalized recruiting aids (personalized jerseys, personalized audio/video scoreboard presentations, gameday simulation, etc.) during any visit a prospect may make. Personalized recruiting aids include any decorative and special additions to any location the prospect will visit regardless of whether or not the items include the prospects name or picture. Posters with prospects names or chants for those prospects are prohibited.
1. Heritage Academy's Kerby at home in shot put circle HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS