June 19, 2009
STARKVILLE -- Former Columbus High School offensive lineman Tobias Smith is going through offseason workouts at Mississippi State.
Smith and the other Bulldogs coming back from injuries are happy about conditioning with little or no pain.
Wide receiver Brandon McRae, running back Robert Elliott, tight end Marcus Green, and wide receiver O''Neal Wilder were all smiles Thursday exiting the Holliman Athletic Training Center.
After breaking his left ankle in the first fall scrimmage of 2008 at MSU, Smith said he''s back to 100 percent. He credits the coaching staff, medical staff, and his family for helping him come back from the injury.
"They kept me encouraged and were always positive about my situation," Smith said. "The coaches were always positive. Even though they do correct, it''s in a positive way.
"I have a good relationship with my dad (Kelvin). He''s talked with me and helped me."
Smith said the pain he felt from the injury forced him to wonder if he would be able to return. The timing of the setback disappointed him because it prevented him from playing in a game.
But Smith has persevered and anticipates being ready for the Sept. 5 season opener against Jackson State in Starkville.
"I can''t wait to hit the field and to be able to show my talent and for the team show our talent," Smith said.
McRae broke his leg in a 45-0 loss to the University of Mississippi.
After surgery and seven months later, McRae feels good and is coming along.
"I''m getting my quickness and speed back and I''m cutting pretty well," McRae said. "My leg is still healing, so I still feel some pain, but I feel it getting stronger at the same time."
McRae, a rising senior, also credits the medical team and trainers Paul Mock and Justin Gremillion for helping him recover.
Last year''s leading receiver (51 catches, 518 yards), McRae looks forward to being a part of coach Dan Mullen''s spread offense.
"I will feel like a little kid in a candy store," McRae said. "I''m going to try to make plays and just be happy to be out there with my team."
Green caught a 51-yard pass against Southeastern Louisiana last season, but he hurt his hip in the game, had surgery on his pelvis, and didn''t return.
Green appreciates how the coaches held him back last season even when it looked like he could play.
"It''s an honor to have a chance to come back," Green said. "We did what we had to do to get ready. I''m looking forward to this year. It shows what God can do."
Kendrick Cook and Brandon Henderson are listed ahead of Green on the depth chart at tight end.
Elliott tore ligaments in his left knee last season against LSU.
This season, he figures to be in the mix at running back with Anthony Dixon, Christian Ducre, and Arnil Stallworth.
Elliott, who had 61 yards on 18 carries and one touchdown last season, said he is at 75 percent and isn''t going to rush his return to the field.
"I''m trying to take my time and be patient," Elliott said. "When I go out there, I try not to think about (the knee). I feel great."
Wilder bounced back from a knee injury to go through spring practice.
Once Elliott gets back on the field, Wilder will give him some advice.
"It''s just a mind thing," Wilder said. "If your mind says you can''t do something, you can''t do it. If you go out there with the right mind-set, you don''t have to worry about it. You''ve got to keep in mind everyone is doing the same thing you are doing."