August 7, 2014 11:23:21 AM
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State wide receiver Jameon Lewis says he has waited for his moment.
Now he will get to enjoy it.
"When I came in four years ago, I was able to look up to some wide receivers who showed me the way and helped me out," said Lewis, the Southeastern Conference's leading returning receiver entering this season. "Now I'm the old guy on the block, trying to teach the young guys. We have so many receivers, it's going to be a fun job."
Such is life when trying to use what he has learned to teach the team's most experienced group. Behind seniors Lewis and Robert Johnson, MSU returns its top seven wideouts from a year ago. That group was responsible for 219 of the Bulldogs' 253 receptions in 2013. It's a group that gives coach Dan Mullen his deepest -- and perhaps most talented -- wide receiver corps in his six seasons in Starkville.
"Coming into last year, we were really worried, but you have to look at the experience," Mullen said. "When you go 80 plays in a game, we want guys running and playing as fast as they can. After rep 80, nobody is as fresh. Where you want to get to is where everybody is running about 40 reps during the course of a game. To do that, you have to have the depth at the receiver position. You do feel good about guys coming back."
The bell cow is Lewis, a multi-purpose threat from Tylertown High School, who exploded as a junior. Entering the 2013 campaign with 248 career receiving yards, Lewis erupted for 923 yards and five touchdowns. He capped the year with a nine-catch, 220-yard gem against Rice in the Liberty Bowl. In that game, he hooked up with quarterback Dak Prescott 10 times -- the 10th being a Lewis-to-Prescott touchdown pass. That performance gave Lewis supreme confidence for his senior season.
"We had a good month of practice and we just went out there and played ball," Lewis said. "It was one of those days. The defense was giving us some space and we took advantage."
While Lewis, a 5-foot-9, 183 pounds, is entrenched in the slot, Prescott will have a number of talented weapons at his disposal.
Johnson, a 6-1, 221-pounder from Oak Grove High, finished second on the team with 34 catches as a junior. He will line up outside opposite sophomore De'Runnya Wilson, who at 6-5, 225, emerged as a red-zone threat late in his freshman season. Wilson erupted for seven catches and two scores in early November at Texas A&M. He added a crucial fourth-down catch late in a 17-10 victory against Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl.
Throw in players like junior Joe Morrow, sophomores Fred Ross and Fred Brown, and redshirt freshman Gabe Myles and Lewis believes MSU has its best group since he has been in Starkville.
"I think we've got a good mix," Lewis said. We've got young guys, older guys ... I look at a guy like Gabe Myles, he's a lot like me. He played high school quarterback, he's good with the ball in his hands. I think we have a lot of weapons."
Myles played quarterback at Starkville High, where he led the Yellow Jackets to the 2012 Class 5A state championship.
Mullen, who watched his team put up a school-record 3,178 passing yards in 2013, agrees with Lewis about MSU's versatility at wideout.
"We have several guys who bring different things to the table," Mullen said. "De'Runnya (Wilson) brings size. We have other guys who bring speed. It's that combination that will make you a deep threat down the field."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brandon Walker on Twitter @BWonStateBeat
1. Woods officially takes over at Starkville High HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Cohen, Bulldogs look for answers after 2015 season COLLEGE SPORTS