August 23, 2012

Tight end preview

Mississippi State's tight ends received both good news and bad news during the offseason.

The Bulldogs were struck a blow when sophomore Malcolm Johnson suffered a non-football related injury and would be out an undetermined amount of time. On a positive note, Marcus Green was granted a sixth year of eligibility and brings a wealth of experience back to the tight end position.

Green has suited up for 29 games and made 16 starts through his injury plagued career. Last season he led all tight ends with 11 catches for 188 yards and was second on the team with a 17.1 yards per catch average.

Having the 6-foot-1, 240-pounder back is like adding another coach in the position meeting room according to tight ends coach Scott Sallach.

"It's extremely beneficial to have an older guy in a room full of inexperienced sophomores," Sallach said. "Anytime you've got a guy who's been in every stadium, played in big games, made big plays and understands what Coach (Dan) Mullen expects out of his program at his offensive position it's a huge benefit to everybody in that room. He's definitely been around the block once or twice. It's like having another coach out there."

Johnson's injury struck MSU hard as the 6-foot-2, 230-pounder came on strong at the end of his redshirt freshman season leading all SEC rookie tight ends with 11 catches for 206 yard and tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns with three.

Sallach hopes that whenever Johnson returns he will pick up right where he left off in 2011.

"You are expecting to get back what you saw at the end of the season," Sallach said. "He developed last year and got better and better. He played a little bit against LSU and as the season went on he got more comfortable and got a feel for what the position demands. I expect the same thing to happen this year for him."

Johnson's absence opens the door for sophomore Brandon Hill. The 6-foot-2 ,235-pounder played in all 13 games for the Bulldogs last season but mostly on special teams. He did have one catch against Auburn for three yards.

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