Former Columbus High School standout Kylin Hill had nine carries for 62 yards in his Mississippi State debut. Photo by: Chris McDill/Special to The Dispatch Buy this photo.
September 3, 2017 12:44:05 AM
STARKVILLE -- Aeris Williams watched from the sidelines as Mississippi State freshman running back Kylin Hill began his college career.
Taking the field with three minutes left in the first quarter, Williams grew more excited as Hill ripped off gains of 19, 8 and 7 yards against Charleston Southern.
At that point, Williams wasn't interested in getting back into the game.
"I wanted him to finish it," Williams said.
Hill didn't get that opportunity -- Williams scored a touchdown two plays later -- but his debut ended with nine carries for 62 yards in a 49-0 victory at Davis Wade Stadium.
"I think everybody saw, he's an explosive player out of the backfield," MSU coach Dan Mullen said. "The great thing about having our staff around for so long, I didn't know when he was going in. I knew we were going to play him, but I didn't know when he was going in. I look up and he's in there running around."
The former Columbus High School standout wasn't alone in having a productive first outing as a Bulldog. Former Starkville High standouts Kobe Jones and Willie Gay Jr. also made their debuts. Jones had two solo tackles and five overall, while Gay Jr. had one solo tackle and two overall.
In addition, Noxubee County High School product Jeffery Simmons notched his first sack at MSU. Twenty-four Bulldogs saw the field for the first time.
Transfer lineman to miss season
MSU received word about the eligibility of transfer defensive end Chauncey Rivers -- and it was bad. Mullen said after that game that the NCAA denied the appeal of Rivers, a transfer from East Mississippi Community College. As a result, Rivers will have to take an academic redshirt.
Safety Brian Cole, another transfer from EMCC, had to do the same.
Jenkins' room to grow
MSU's offensive numbers -- 6.5 yards per play for 86 plays for 555 yards -- gave no indication, but there were times the Bulldogs had trouble starting a play.
Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald caught numerous snaps from Elgton Jenkins, who was making his first start at center, at his knees or below. None of them came with catastrophic results -- MSU didn't fumble -- but it provided Mullen with a point of emphasis for next week.
"There's a lot going on at that position," Mullen said. "I didn't see a bad snap. I just saw some that weren't great, and we want great ones every single snap. I think he'll see it and grow from that."
Answer at punt return
Gabe Myles already has a lot on his plate as someone who is being counted on at wide receiver. He supported that claim by tying for the team lead with three catches.
But Myles also showed he is the team's favorite return man. He returned three punts for 22 yards, including a 19-yard return. He also had a 23-yard kick return.
"He's an explosive player. He can really make things happen," Mullen said. "We saw that in the kicking game and at receiver."
Fitzgerald moving up the ranks
Fitzgerald's 2-yard touchdown 58 seconds into the game was his 20th rushing score, which tied him for 10th in school history. His two passing touchdowns moved that career total to 26, good enough for eighth in school history. He also is tied with Anthony Dixon for third in program history in total touchdowns responsible for (46).
The performance was part of another 500-yard total offense effort, the 19th such game since 2014, which leads the Southeastern Conference.
Day looking to bounce back
Freshman kicker Tucker Day's debut didn't go as he or Mullen anticipated. He missed field goals from 32 and 47 yards and made a 40-yarder. After the game, Mullen said he anticipates better from Day.
"For him, and I know he's disappointed, I've seen him kick much better. I want that to challenge him," Mullen said. "I think one of the things that got him the starting job was his edge and his competitive attitude. I want to see how he responds."
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