STARKVILLE — One of the rewards for offensive line coach John Hevesy when he joined Dan Mullen’s football staff at Mississippi State was getting a chance to work with Derek Sherrod. While at Florida three years ago, Hevesy recruited the former Caledonia High School player for the Gators.
STARKVILLE –– Tuesday’s spring football practice at Mississippi State ended differently than the previous one. After the offense scored a touchdown to end a scrimmage Saturday, the defense made a statement Tuesday at the end of a three-hour practice. Linebacker Jamie Jones intercepted a pass from quarterback Chris Relf that caused the defense to celebrate much like the offense did Saturday.
When Ben Fleming signed a scholarship to play baseball at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Ga., he believed it was an opportunity to play for a championship. Fleming, a junior outfielder from Columbus, is halfway through his first season at Southern Polytechnic, and he still believes the team has a chance to win a title. Southern Polytechnic (29-4), of the Southern States Athletic Conference, is off to its best start in school history and is ranked No. 3 in the NAIA Coaches Top 25 poll.
STARKVILLE — Football has always been in Jody Wright’s blood. From winning three state championships in his playing days at Pickens Academy to playing at Jacksonville State University in Alabama to coaching at Jacksonville and Mississippi State, Wright has always found a way to keep the game a part of his life.
STARKVILLE –– Saturday was like Christmas morning for Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen. By the end of a two-and-a-half hour spring workout, it began to feel a little that way with a cool front blowing through. Mullen was anxious to watch the film of what the Bulldogs had just done on the practice field so he could find out which players were ready to contribute.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State junior second baseman Jet Butler said one thing has given the Bulldogs problems on the road. “We haven’t been able to execute our game plans, but we’ll get better,” Butler said. “We’ll keep scratching and clawing.” MSU faces another road challenge this weekend when it travels to Arkansas for a series of games at 6:30 p.m. today, 2 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. Sunday. The Bulldogs (14-10, 2-4 Southeastern Conference) haven’t had the kind of start they wanted in coach John Cohen’s first year, mainly due to a 1-8 record in road and neutral-site games.
STARKVILLE — Jarvis Varnado still hasn’t decided if he will return for his senior season with the Mississippi State men’s basketball team. Varnado will explore the possibility of leaving Mississippi State and turning professional. Varnado and MSU coach Rick Stansbury met Thursday, but no decision was made. Stansbury said there is no rush because the deadline for early-entry candidates to apply for the NBA Draft is April 26.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State punter Baker Swedenburg probably doesn’t mind a three-hour practice one bit. The work gives the former Heritage Academy player more time to prove himself on the field. After signing with the Mississippi State football team in 2008, Swedenburg, of Columbus, sat out a grayshirt year that enabled him to enroll as a part-time student and to keep his four years of eligibility. Swedenburg finally made it to the practice field Tuesday when the Bulldogs kicked off spring practice. He was back on the field Thursday for the second workout.
STARKVILLE â€” March Madness ended early for the Mississippi State basketball teams. But Jerald Harkness was in Starkville on Tuesday to celebrate the spirit and the history of the MSU menâ€™s basketball program and the NCAA tournament.
Among the 75 or so spectators at Mississippi Stateâ€™s first day of spring football practice on Tuesday were coach Dan Mullenâ€™s wife, Megan, and his 1-month-old son, Canon. Canon was born Feb. 13 and the smile canâ€™t be wiped from coach Mullenâ€™s face whenever he talks about his son.
Itâ€™s time to move on. As much as University of Mississippi football coach Houston Nutt would love to enjoy the fruits of a 9-4 season that ended with a six-game winning streak and a victory against Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl, heâ€™s ready for another ride.
STARKVILLE â€” Mississippi State baseball coach John Cohen is looking for players who will give a consistent effort every time they step on the field. If Cohen can get that effort from a freshman, he will go that route. On Wednesday night against the University of Memphis, two MSU freshmen showed they could be a key to the programâ€™s future.
Sharon Fanning already is thinking about the 2009-10 season. One of the first jobs Fanning took to prepare for next season was to watch Mississippi State’s 64-58 loss to Ohio State in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Monday again. The veteran MSU coach knew the outcome wasn’t going to change. She also knew her confidence in her players wasn’t going to diminish one bit.
STARKVILLE –– It has been a long seven months for Mississippi State offensive lineman Tobias Smith, of Columbus. After breaking his left leg during two-a-days and having surgery last August, Smith went through rehabilitation and rejoined the Bulldogs for the first day of spring practice Tuesday. MSU coach Dan Mullen was happy Smith could be a part of his first practice in Starkville. Smith a graduate of Columbus High School, was excited to get back on the field, even if it was just a practice.
Ron Polk believes he wouldn’t be Hall of Fame material if not for the players he has coached. That’s why he is glad to be inducted into a Hall of Fame with one of his former Mississippi State players. Polk and Rafael Palmeiro will be two of 10 players and coaches who will be inducted to the College Baseball Hall of Fame on July 3 in Lubbock, Texas.
Prior to the start of the season, Courtney Gordon believed the University of West Alabama had the potential to have a good softball team. Gordon must have known something. West Alabama (27-5) is off to its best start in school history after sweeping a doubleheader at Stillman College, in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Tuesday. The Lady Tigers won the opener 18-0 and the nightcap 17-2. Gordon, a 2005 graduate of New Hope High School, is a senior shortstop for the Lady Tigers who has played an instrumental role in the team’s fast start.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State and the University of Mississippi are well represented among the finalists for the Cellular South Bailey Howell and Peggy Gillom Trophies. The awards, which go to the state’s top men’s and women’s college basketball players, will be presented at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in Jackson.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen already considers quarterback Tyson Lee, of Columbus, a champion before he sees what he can do on the practice field today. That’s because Lee is one of 16 Bulldogs chosen to the “Champions Club,” which is made up of players who excelled on and off the field in offseason conditioning and met standards set by their position group.
STARKVILLE -–– Les Koenning returns to the Mississippi State football practice field Tuesday after a 20-year absence. Koenning was the running backs and wide receivers coach at Mississippi State from 1986-89. He returned when Dan Mullen was hired to replace Sylvester Croom this past December. Koenning welcomes the opportunity to work with Mullen and return to Mississippi State.
STARKVILLE -- Tailback Anthony Dixon will not be a forgotten man in the spread offense of new Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen. It is Mullen’s hope that the former 1,000-yard rusher will be again next fall his senior season. Mullen said there is a misconception that a running game is not important in the spread, but he begs to differ.
3. Heritage Academy softball will try to take next step HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. Mixed reaction to decision to move MHSAA football title games HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS