August 24, 2010

Safety preview

Mississippi State's young safeties were sometimes feast or famine last season.

The unit comprised of underclassmen made some spectacular plays in the secondary but were also subject to surrendering the big play as well. The good news for the Bulldogs is that every safety is back with another experience under their belt which should only help their situation.

"Overall I think we have improved and some of the improvement comes from experience," said MSU safeties coach Tony Hughes. "Hopefully we will continue to improve and play with confidence."

The unit is headlined by junior Charles Mitchell. The 5-foot-11, 205-pounder had played in every game of his Bulldog career and started all 12 games a year ago. Mitchell made 64 tackles in 2009 including 1.5 stops for loss, four interceptions, three pass deflections and one forced fumble. He returned one of his interceptions 71-yards for a touchdown against Houston.

"He's one of the hardest workers on our whole football team," Hughes said. "When a guy does that he proves himself every day to his teammates. When he gets on the field he takes it to another level. He's just a hard working kid that loves to play football. He's not a real loud vocal leader but in his own way he's a leader by example."

Also returning is the lone senior of the group in Zach Smith. The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder started the first five games last season before missing the rest of the year after suffering the effects of multiple concussions over his career. His 90 career tackles and 29 games of experience will only help benefit the State secondary.

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