August 2, 2009 12:40:00 AM
Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen appears to have left the door open for a quarterback controversy.
Although senior Tyson Lee, of Columbus, appears to be the front-runner Monday entering the start of preseason football practice, there are indications Mullen isn''t completely satisfied with the position.
"Our quarterback battle will go on until I find we have one true leader and a guy that''s going to win football games for us," Mullen said. "That might be in two-a-day camp, that might be right before the first kickoff, and it might be week four for us."
Mullen said quarterback in the spread offense will have to lead and to produce wins as well as be able to run and throw.
Whether the Bulldogs go with Lee, sophomore Chris Relf, incoming freshman Tyler Russell, or freshman Riley Saunders, Mullen said the quarterback will be "whoever is going to manage our offense to give us the best opportunity to win football games."
Relf is happy Mullen still has an open mind about the position, and he plans to push for extensive playing time. He said the quarterbacks have been competitive in summer workouts.
"They really haven''t named a quarterback yet, so we''re looking forward to competing," Relf said.
The Bulldogs will have a team meeting this afternoon at the Holliman Athletic Center.
The freshmen will hold their first practice Monday morning. The varsity team will begin drills at 3:15 p.m. Monday. That practice will be open to the public.
Mullen is anxious to get started so he can see how much the players retained from the spring.
"It''s going to be important for us when we get out there to see (the things) for us to be successful offensively this year," Mullen said. "We have to have great carryover from the spring. They can''t come in as a blank slate, or have forgotten everything we taught them in the spring. When you are installing a new offense, they have to have that carryover."
MSU has just completed a rugged offseason conditioning program with strength coach Matt Balis.
On the eve of the start of preseason practice, the Bulldogs can sense something different.
"The fun is here," Lee said. "Since we got back in June, we''ve been going at it and that will continue going into two-a-days."
Lee isn''t worried about a quarterback controversy, and said competition makes everyone better.
Even when he was vying last season for playing time with Wesley Carroll, Lee always considered himself a team player who wanted the best for MSU.
"The biggest part about it is everyone wants to play, but only one person can play," Lee said. "If you want the team to do well, you can''t be selfish. Whoever plays, the other people have to support him and help them out the best way you can because you never know when it''s your time. One play and you are in the game and that''s how it works. You''ve got to be ready at all times."
Lee believes he speaks for Relf, Russell, and Saunders when he says each individual wants to be a quality quarterback on and off the field and wants to lead the team the best way possible.
"It''s not easy, but you want everybody on the team to trust you," Lee said. "When it''s fourth down and the ball is in your hands, you want (teammates) to know they can count on you."
n Published reports Saturday indicated former MSU wide receiver Delmon Robinson, who last week left the Bulldogs'' program, has signed with Copiah-Lincoln Community College.
Robinson, a 5-foot-9, 180-pounder, had 12 catches for 125 yards as a freshman last season.
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