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April 7, 2011

Inside the position: MSU QB Dylan Favre

Where do you start with Dylan Favre? Watching Mississippi State football practice, Tyler Russell is pensive and methodical. Chris Relf is quiet and unassuming. Dak Prescott is just trying to take it all in and figure out what's going on.

Dylan Favre? He's running all over the field, yelling at teammates, jumping in the air and fist-pumping after touchdowns. Among his fellow quarterbacks, he certainly stands out, or so says Dan Mullen.

"I mean, he plays I think with the natural confidence that the other two have developed," Mullen said. "He just has that naturally, kind of that natural swagger about himself, that persona, that 'it' that the team's gonna follow him and rally around him. He's an exciting guy to watch; he can make a lot of things happen on the field. His development is very different from the others. The others are developing confidence in the offense so they can really play at a high level and step up their leadership. He has all that leadership and the confidence, and sometimes too much. His confidence is above where he's at. I wouldn't say his confidence is above his ability, but his confidence is above where he's at in the program right now."

Favre said he's not exactly sure if he has that swagger, but, "That's what people say. I mean, I don't know if I have it or if I don't."

Just a few moments after saying that, though, he said he thinks he could play for any school and thinks he can make any throw on the field. We'll take that as a "yes."

Of course, Favre didn't have offers from every school in the country. Despite being a Parade All-American, Gatorade Mississippi Player of the Year and state champion out of St. Stanislaus, Mullen joked, "I think we were his only offer."

Lucky for Favre, MSU was the only offer he really wanted. Although, according to Mullen, he came dangerously close to not getting it. In the end, one thing in particular won Mullen over.

"Winning," Mullen said. "It was something that - there were a lot of reasons we didn't want to like him, and didn't want to take him, but he continued to win and had that swagger, that confidence. Everything that he did, he won. Everyone that saw him play live was wowed by his presence on the field. You can spend all the time you want trying to coach presence on the field. That's the hardest thing to develop. Teaching you to check the ball down, I can get that done; but getting the presence on the field, that's the one that takes a longer time."

The most well-known story of Favre's recruitment came out last fall. MSU lost to LSU in Mullen's first season as head coach after then-quarterback Tyson Lee came up just inches short of the goal line for the go-ahead touchdown. Shortly after the game, Favre, who didn't even have an offer at the time, texted Mullen and said something to the extent of, "I would have gotten in the endzone."

"I like Tyson a lot, nothing against him," Favre said. "But I was just sitting at my house, I saw the game. At the time, I was kind of lobbying for a scholarship, but that's not really where I came from. That's just how I felt. That's how I play the game; that's the mindset that I play with. I just let him know, if I was his quarterback, I would have got in."

Yes, a high school kid with no big-time offers texted a first-year SEC coach after a heartbreaking loss on national TV, saying he would have done better. Oddly enough, it went over well.

"It was good," Mullen said. "It helped his cause. Because that's a guy that has the swagger, has the confidence. When you're in the SEC, you're on the biggest stage in all of football, next to the NFL. Football Saturdays in the SEC are a whole different level. You don't want somebody that that's going to be too big of a deal for them. You want somebody that kind of has a little bit of an attitude that, 'I can do that.' It is intimidating playing in this league."

While the swagger seems to be in Favre's favor, one thing is not - his height. Listed at 5'10", Favre knows there are many who feel it holds him back. He also believes it hurt his stock coming out of high school. What he doesn't think, however, is that it actually matters.

"I mean, it might a little, but I think other parts of my game make up for my height," Favre said. "People like to talk about my throwing motion, but in my opinion, that works to my advantage. I can throw the ball from so many different angles, which allows me to create passing lanes for myself. I have pretty good feet, and I'm pretty mobile. I think other parts of my game compensate for my height."

Favre may be right. Mullen even said, "He's a little better than I thought he was." Mullen knew he could throw the ball well, but said he been surprised by Favre's overall athleticism and speed out of the pocket.

While he is complimentary of Favre's confidence and presence on the field, Mullen said there are times when the redshirt freshman needs to dial it down a notch.

"That's the big learning step," Mullen said. "It's a little different for him. He's learning not to go out there on a limb. He's learning to reel it in and manage, and not make as many mistakes. If you play that every play has to be a touchdown, you're not gonna succeed. You have to take what the defense gives you, manage the ball down the field, put us in the right situations, let guys on the team make the plays they need to make. You don't have to do it all. That is the development of him."

Favre admits that his confidence can be both his biggest asset and his biggest downfall from play to play. Just like Mullen offered one word - "winning" - as the reason he signed Favre, the moxie-filled quarterback also offered a single word for what he brings to the field.

"Competitiveness," Favre said. "I'm gonna compete. Whether we're down by 30 or up by 30, I'm gonna play the game the same way. I'm passionate. I truly care about my teammates. I'm a playmaker. In my mind I can make any play or any throw on the field, which at times gets me in trouble, trying to force balls in there that I shouldn't. That's what Coach Mullen is always on me about. I'll do anything I have to to win. I've won all my life, and I plan on continuing to do so."


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