For the last two years, State fans have had one of greatest luxuries in all of football going into a new season: security at the quarterback position. Rayne Dakota Prescott was a blessing to each and every Bulldog fan worldwide, but now it’s time to shift our eyes to the future of Mississippi State football. The only question is, where does the focus go?
Dan Mullen most recently informed us at SEC Media Days that it is in fact a four-man battle for the quarterback position. The players contending that he was referring to were redshirt junior Damian Williams, sophmores Elijah Staley and Nick Fitzgerald, as well as freshman Nick Tiano. Mullen was also sure to tell us that no one had emerged from that group as the early favorite to be the starter going into Fall practices.
So, in honor of the wonderful election season that is upon us, let’s take a comprehensive look at each of the candidates in #MaroonDecision2016. Only difference here is that the only vote that actually matters is Mr. Dan Mullen’s, but just like the real election, we’ll all get to complain about the outcome.
Damian Williams, Junior
Career Stats: 1 start, 37/70, 434 yds, 3 TD & 2 INT, 157 Rushing yds & 1 TD
With the most real-game experience of the group, Williams is considered the Veteran arm on the roster. For those that may have forgotten, Williams was instrumental in maintaining the 2013 season, pulling out a road win against Arkansas and keeping State in the first 3 1/2 quarters of the Egg Bowl.
I like Williams as a passer, but don’t think he’ll have the athleticism to beat out his comrades.
Projected Depth Chart position: #3
Elijah Staley, Sophomore
Career Stats: 3/5, 51 yds, 1 TD, 18 rushing yds
The greenest non-freshman QB on the roster with playing time in just two games last season and both were non-conference, so who knows if we’ve had a chance to see a glimpse of the "real" Staley. He brings incredible size to the mix, standing in at 6’-6", 250, paired with good mobility and athleticism. It’s not hard to imagine why Ben Howland didn’t have a problem with Staley having a spot on his basketball squad.
Based on the little we’ve seen of him, Staley seems like a serviceable option, but just that. He’ll have to have a huge beginning of Fall practices if he plans to take charge.
Proj. Depth Chart position: #4
Nick Fitzgerald, Sophomore
Career Stats: 11/14, 235 yds, 3 TD, 127 rushing yds, 3 TD
Spent the 2015 season as Prescott’s backup and saw playing time accordingly. Seeing action in seven games, three in-conference, Fitzgerald was never put in a pressure situation, granted, he did have to line up across from Alabama’s front seven last year more than once. Each time Fitzgerald hit the field, State was already up by a gross margin or we had little-to-no shot at winning.
It almost seems as if this is Fitzgerald’s competition to lose, rumored to be the favorite. I’m hoping for a lot out of the Dak Prescott apprentice, look for Fitzgerald to come out swinging this Fall.
Proj. Depth Chart position: Starter
Nick Tiano, Freshman
Career Stats: 3-Star QB Recruit
There’s really not much to say here outside of the fact that we have no in-game performance to evaluate and minimal practice time to speculate about. All we can truly go off of here is his senior highlight tape and what we hear/saw at Spring practices. Tiano did seemingly have the best Spring game, but take that at face value, it was the spring game.
Tiano’s best attribute is his accuracy, which is something State fans became very accustomed to during the Prescott era, witnessing an outstandingly low number of interceptions. I look for Tiano to be the dark horse candidate in this Fall’s race.
Proj. Depth Chart position: Backup
You’ve read, you’ve thought, and now I ask you to participate in this discussion. Who do Mississippi State fans want to see start at quarterback this Fall? As always, please vote your conscious.