Replacing Dak Prescott is not something that will be easy to do. Dak was a three star recruit out of Louisiana and became the best quarterback that Mississippi State had ever seen. But his legacy doesn’t stop there. He’s one of the best to ever play in the SEC and he’s arguably the single most underrated player in the SEC’s history.
But we have to move on from Dak Prescott. We have to leave behind all of the touchdowns, yards, and big moments that he shined in. Mississippi State was elevated to greatness because Dak raised the level of play of those around him. Now the Bulldogs have to find someone to step in and at the very least keep the program from losing any momentum that it currently has.
The Bulldogs have a few good options to turn to, but finding the guy that separates himself will be the key for Dan Mullen and the offense for 2016.
Notable Losses: Dak Prescott, Elijah Staley (transferred to Tyler Junior College)
Key Returners: Damian Williams, Nick Fitzgerald, Nick Tiano
Big Additions: Wyatt Roberts (transferred from EMCC and walked on)
Damian Williams is the most experienced guy in this competition, and he’s only made one start. That was back in 2013 where he started because he was the healthiest quarterback on the roster. Last year he wasn’t so healthy and had to redshirt.
Williams is often forgotten about when it comes to the 2013 season, but he’s one of the main reasons Mississippi State even made it to a bowl a few seasons ago. From his touchdown run to lead the Bulldogs over Arkansas in overtime to keeping Mississippi State afloat against the Rebels in the Egg Bowl, Williams was a vital part of State’s success. He’s got a solid arm, is built like a running back at 6’1” and 230 pounds, and has decent legs, so he is a good fit for a typical Dan Mullen offense.
Nick Fitzgerald has been the favorite amongst most of the fans to win the job. He’s tall, he’s athletic, and he’s got a strong arm. In high school, he played in an option offense where he ran for over 1400 yards and had 25 rushing touchdowns. Physically, he’s built to succeed at the quarterback position in a spread option offense at 6’5” and 230 pounds.
Fitzgerald might bring the most balance to the offense if he were to take the helm as the starting quarterback. He’s developed as a passer and as I’ve mentioned, he’s a natural runner. Fitzgerald is the second most experienced guy on the roster, graduating from high school early and enrolling early so that he could get a head start on Elijah Staley.
Nick Tiano might be the most explosive runner of the three, and he has the talent and the physical tools to become either an inside linebacker or the perfect quarterback for Dan Mullen’s offense. At 6’4” and 240 pounds, he’s physically the most similar to Tim Tebow... and also Richie Brown.
Tiano more than likely won’t become a linebacker, he’s a thrilling runner and was arguably the most exciting quarterback to watch in the spring game. He might be the quarterback of the future for the Bulldogs because of this athleticism, but it looks like he won’t win the job to start the season.
Mullen: "Fitz and Damian are getting the majority of the reps. Nick Tiano has a bright future but the other 2 are a little more ready."— Robby Donoho (@RobbyDonoho) August 29, 2016
Wyatt Roberts is an interesting addition to the team. He’s the star of Netflix’s hit series Last Chance U and was quite a quarterback at the juco level. But he’s not in this quarterback competition.
Roberts was reportedly brought onto the team so that he could get experience because he hopes to be a coach one day, and so Dan Mullen brought him on board. Add in the fact that he provides depth should the injury bug start biting folks and he can run the scout team so that the other three guys get more practice reps, adding him was a wise move.
Mississippi State released the depth chart today and it clearly didn’t do anything to give us any hints as to who will wind up being the starter.
And then Dan Mullen trolled all of us by saying that “Nick Williams” would be the starter for South Alabama. So there’s no real answer as to which guy will be starting quarterback. We’ll likely see Williams, Fitzgerald, and Tiano all play significant minutes in the two games leading up to LSU. But the Bulldogs will need to settle on one guy before they head down to Baton Rouge if they want to pull the unlikely upset.
Dan Mullen has some solid options to turn to. There’s no real wrong answer between the three guys in this competition. The hard part is finding the guy that excels at leading and improving those around him. Whoever can do that, and play the most consistently, will more than likely win the job.