Mississippi State Football 2013 Impact Players: No. 1, Tyler Russell

Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE

Quarterback play is important: as if that isn't the most obvious statement ever made. Mississippi State's quarterback, Tyler Russell, played quite well last season, breaking school records, and leading MSU to eight wins. But it was a disgruntled eight wins, and Tyler was not the same in big games. As a senior, can one of the best quarterbacks in MSU history step up and shine in the big game? He'll get that chance early.

As our series comes to a close, we find ourselves at the end of journey that has led us all the way to the 2013 season's most important player.

It should not, and I doubt it does, surprise any of you that the number one name on this list belongs to Tyler Russell. Tyler Russell: the most talked about MSU quarterback since the day he committed. Tyler Russell: the freshman some wanted to start over Relf and Lee. Tyler Russell: would the passing quarterback work in Dan Mullen's system? Tyler Russell: MSU's record holder in passing yards and touchdowns, among many other things. It's safe to say that all of the preceding statements have been made about Tyler, along with a lot more. But no matter what has been said of him, what we've been given on the field in Russell's three years so far is more actual living up to expectations than any other quarterback I can remember in recent MSU history.

Last year, many prognosticated that Tyler's chance was finally here; that he would shatter some MSU records that stood embarrassingly too long. And he did, to the tune of nearly 2,900 passing yards, and 28 touchdowns. Those are records that have stood for quite some time at State, and they're easily being broken last year was quite a feat. But it seemed like something was missing. Something wasn't there, and that something was State's playing at a high level against better opponents down the stretch.

If MSU is going to have a chance to fare better against the LSUs, the Alabamas, and the Texas A&Ms, then it all starts with #17. Tyler is a senior, playing behind a fully returning line, and playing with as good of a backfield as State has had since the early 2000s. If that offense is going to show up and be a factor in big games, then MSU will need smart game management and some big time plays in the passing game from Tyler. The running game will be there this year, of that I have little doubt. But the questions have been and will be surrounding a young receiving corps, and what they are able to do this year. Balance is the key to a good offense for State, and they will need Tyler to play nearly perfect all season to achieve that. If he's on, if he can manage a great game, and if he can make the throws that his WRs and this team needs him to, then State will truly have a chance to maybe improve on that record this season.

It's the final ride of the most talked about quarterback in MSU history's career. I know we all want to see him go out on top, and there's no doubt in my mind that that's exactly what Tyler wants too, especially after the way 2012 finished down the stretch. Good, smart play from him, and State wins eight ball games this season. It's all on the senior under center to make this offense go, if State wants to go bowling around New Year's Day again this season.

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