March 19, 2014 8:04:58 PM
STARKVILLE -- Rufus Warren was always trying to desperately shed weight to get back into a tight end type body before spring and fall camp.
Before the start of spring football practices for the 2014 season, the Mississippi State coaching staff finally just told him if you're already going to look like an offensive lineman, why not just go with that?
After two seasons of being the primarily the blocking tight end at MSU, Warren has been kicked inside one spot over to offensive tackle and couldn't be more excited about his new home.
"It's never a bad thing when you finally get to eat what you want and now it's encouraged because I'm not trying to lose weight," Warren said. "Coach Mullen really left it up to my decision and moving positions was just the best thing for me. I like the idea of being an athletic tackle at 295 instead of a one dimensional tight end."
While it's a new world being moved just inches inside to the offensive line, MSU offensive line coach John Hevesy was confident Warren's veteran presence to the practice regime will serve him well in terms of knowing the effort needed from a third-year player.
"The difference with Rufus than a younger player is he already understands how we expect guys to practice and so that's not a surprise or any kind of issue for him," Hevesy said. "The initial difference for him might be the language or verbiage we use in teaching offensive line compared to what he was getting at tight end."
Warren gained 30 pounds from his playing weight of 265 pounds from last season but MSU coach Dan Mullen jokingly suggested after the first spring practice Tuesday that it wasn't a matter of strategically gaining the extra weight.
"He was always fighting to keep his weight down...so instead of battling to keep his weight down, he didn't have to work to put on the pounds," MSU's sixth-year head coach said. "He is 295 today and that didn't take a whole lot of work on his part because he always ended up at one point in the offseason getting that big anyway."
Warren will look to challenge for the open slot at right tackle left by graduating starter Charles Siddoway as MSU featured Damien Robinson there with the first-team unit Tuesday in a practice without pads. The first practice in full gear with contact will be Friday afternoon and is open to the public at the Seal Complex.
"We told him last year that if he kept having that one more biscuit at team dinner then he'd be with us," MSU junior offensive guard Justin Malone said. "He always said 'no, I'm not a offensive lineman' and guess what, we were right again."
Hevesy said after the Tuesday practice that only seniors Blaine Clausell and Dillon Day had assured themselves of a starting spot for 2014 while everybody else was "searching for a job". With Justin Malone back from his season-ending injury and Warren making the transition to offensive line, MSU is hoping to have a rotation of seven to eight players to rotate in and out of games for the 2014 season.
"I told them unless you're a starter and to me, that's Blaine and Dillon that have solidified a job, then there's a bunch of guys running around being told to go find a job," Hevesy said. "It might be at tackle or guard or whatever."
The first team unit during team drills on day one of practice was from left to right: Clausell, Jamaal Clayborn, Day, senior Ben Beckwith and Robinson.
Hevesy was obviously unable to speculate who was a frontrunner for the two inside positions next to Day at center or the right tackle spot that Warren is vying for along with redshirt freshmen Jake Thomas from Columbus.
"We need to go find the next Gabe Jackson," Hevesy said. "I'll let you know who the front runner for those spots are in about 15 practices and then in September, you'll see it on the jumbotron."
n Dee Arrington out for spring and probably 2014 season: Junior safety Dee Arrington wasn't at practice on Tuesday and Mullen stated he could miss the entire 2014 season with "medical issues" dealing with numerous injuries.
The major injury concern for the former four-star prospect is a hamstring injury that caused him to miss the final eight games of the 2013 season and according to Mullen still hasn't healed properly.
"I'm not sure he'll be back next season," Mullen said Tuesday. "With all the issues he had, he was just never able to get over it. But that's something to be seen for the future."
Arrington's loss on the field is mixed with the return of junior Jay Hughes to the safety position after an achilles injury on the first drive of last season forced him to have season-ending surgery.
n Ferlando Bohanna back for spring after football career was in doubt: Despite Mullen's assurances the coaching staff will be keeping an eye on linebacker Ferlando Bohanna in contact days of spring practice, it appears the football career for the senior linebacker isn't over.
Bohanna missed the entire 2013 season with concussion issues that had Mullen questioning a possible a return to the field for him ever again. However, he was working with the second-team linebacker unit in team drills Tuesday.
"We are going to protect him," Mullen said. "We went out in pads today, and we will see how he adjusts and how he feels. He is a guy that has had a couple of concussions and didn't get over it the right way. He missed all of last season, but hopefully it is something that he can come back from and actually play for his senior year."
Bohanna has seen action in 22 career games including two starts, posting 35 tackles to go along with one tackle for loss and two fumble recoveries.
Follow Matt Stevens on Twitter @matthewcstevens.
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