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Fitzgerald limited in MSU's spring opener


Nick Fitzgerald

Nick Fitzgerald


Brett Hudson



STARKVILLE -- The only thing covering Nick Fitzgerald's right ankle was a cleat and tape. 


After weeks of demobilization and rehabilitation from the gruesome injury he suffered in last season's Egg Bowl, Mississippi State's starting quarterback was on the practice field and participating in the first spring practice of the Joe Moorhead era at MSU. He was wearing a yellow jersey, reserved for those limited from contact, but he will still be able to take in the new system and run it himself at times. 


"He was limited, he did what he can do. He did the 7-on-7, the individual drills," Moorhead said. "We're going to ease him back in, we don't want to get too far out in front of our skis. He's going to do the things he's capable of doing." 


Nick's father, Derrick, told The Dispatch over the winter that Nick would be limited particularly in some running aspects in the spring; Fitzgerald posted a video on Twitter of himself jogging for the first time since the injury on March 7. Moorhead still expects Fitzgerald to be able to take in the offense through the spring. 


"In the repetitions that he's able to participate, just an understanding of the installation we're putting in that day as we continue to build up," Moorhead said. 


Fitzgerald is certain to take what he can get after, as he put it while MSU was preparing for the TaxSlayer Bowl, "being the hype man." His return was part of what Moorhead deemed an overall productive practice. 


"I think so, in all three phases. All of us were going a million miles today because you're learning and teaching at the same time a new language and a new way to practice, from the small detail of the practice scripts, where we're at on the field, the drills and how we want it done," Moorhead said. "Under the circumstances that it was day one and everything was new, I was pleased but not satisfied." 




Practice plan 


With just two exceptions -- one Saturday off and an extra Friday practice before the Maroon and White game -- MSU will maintain the same practice schedule for all five weeks of its spring practice time: practices on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. It was set up that way for a reason. 


"We've been very measured in our approach and our installation," Moorhead said. "We got Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday: Tuesday and Thursday are installation days and Saturday is a review day." 




Academic absence 


MSU safety Brandon Bryant was not with the team for Tuesday's practice. Moorhead said Bryant, "has business to take care of off the field, academically," and the program will treat him on a day-by-day basis until that situation is handled. 


Bryant finished last season with 32 tackles, 10th on the team, with two pass break-ups and one interception, which he returned 30 yards in sealing the win over BYU. In his absence, MSU used Mark McLaurin and Johnathan Abram as its starting safeties on Tuesday with Brian Cole at the nickel. 




Position assignments 


West Point native Marcus Murphy entered MSU having proven his potential to play several positions and ultimately spent his first practice as a Bulldog at two of them: safety and returner. 


"Marcus is going to start out as a safety, but he could probably play corner, could probably play some other positions and we have him working at returner, some special teams roles," Moorhead said. "Like all the (early enrollee) guys, everything was going a little fast for those guys today, but I thought Marcus did a good job and it'll slow down for him eventually." 


Also, running back Alec Murphy remains listed as one, but practiced Tuesday at linebacker. Murphy tallied just two carries for nine yards last season as Kylin Hill and Nick Gibson separated themselves as the second wave of backs behind West Point native Aeris Williams; Moorhead called the move, "an opportunity for the kid." 


Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson



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