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What They’re Saying: #SECMD14

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Benardrick McKinney, Jay Hughes and Dak Prescott represented Mississippi State at the 2014 SEC Media Days.
Photo Courtesy of hailstate.com

STARKVILLE, Miss. – A full Tuesday morning at the Southeastern Conference Media Days sparked national conversation about Mississippi State football. Head coach Dan Mullen, senior defensive back Jay Hughes, junior linebacker Benardrick McKinney and junior quarterback Dak Prescott represented the Bulldogs at the league event.

Below are some of the highlighted comments from writers around the country who were in Hoover for the media gathering. 

Mike Herndon, Al.com
"‘Our expectations are to find a way to get to Atlanta,’ Mullen said at SEC Media Days on Tuesday. ‘For us to do that, we're going to have to have a pretty special year.  But I think we have some special guys that can make that happen.’

“While the goal is lofty, there is reason for the optimism. The Bulldogs ended last season with three straight wins last season, including a 17-10 overtime win over rival Ole Miss and a 44-7 rout of Rice in the Liberty Bowl. Mullen said 30 players return who have started at least one game.”

David Brandt, AP
“Mississippi State has been a reasonably successful program during coach Dan Mullen’s five-year tenure, advancing to four straight bowl games.

“Now the Bulldogs have a roster that looks as if it can attain even more.”

Michael Cohen, Commercial Appeal
"But with [Dak] Prescott at the helm and 29 other players who started games last season returning, optimism is running rampant in Starkville. The Bulldogs believe 2014 can be about vindication, about earning respect, about a sizable jump up the SEC standings after narrow losses to Auburn and Alabama prevented a solid year from being a sensational one.

"And that leap — from middling toward Atlanta — is the type Prescott won’t hesitate to take."

Ryan Black, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
“But perhaps the biggest thing working in the Bulldogs’ favor is the sense that the Southeastern Conference is wide-open. Auburn and Missouri weren’t expected to make it to the conference title game last season.

“That left the Bulldogs asking, why not us?

“If Mississippi State wins its first Western Division title since 1998, it’s likely it will be in large part because of Dak Prescott.”

Knox Bardeen, FOX Sports South
“In a season where quarterback play is expected to be down in the SEC, the Bulldogs are in a somewhat unique situation to have a signal caller with the ability to put a team on his back.

“If [Dak] Prescott has learned how to connect more frequently with receivers on deep routes, and if he's been able to incorporate the passing option more into his read-option plays, this Mississippi State offense has the chance to be truly dynamic.”

Alex Scarborough, ESPN.com
“[Dak] Prescott didn’t act like a quarterback who a year earlier wasn’t on anyone’s radar. Instead he showed the confidence of a veteran handling the media: chin up, strong eye contact, ever sincere. He welcomed expectations and was even glad to critique his own play.

“He should have been anxious, but Prescott didn’t look it. He should have been worried about living up to the hype, but he seemed totally at ease.

“Where some might see being the voice of a team as a burden, he got his feet underneath him and delivered.”

Michael Bonner, Clarion-Ledger
“SEC Media Days acted as the Who's Who of college football last year. But Johnny Manziel, A.J. McCarron and Jadeveon Clowney are all in the NFL.

“This year's event lacked star power. But the buzz of Media Days heightened Tuesday. A hoard of media surrounded Mississippi State's quarterback Dak Prescott. He's no McCarron or Manziel, but he's perhaps a star in the making.”

David Fox, Athlon Sports

“For a quarterback, he [Dak Prescott] doesn’t shy away from hits, earning the respect of his defensive teammates. More than that, Prescott impressed teammates by playing against Texas A&M in November last season, less than a week after he lost his mother Peggy to a long bout with colon cancer.

“Prescott said it was the toughest time of his life but told his teammates that his mom would want him to play.

“That determination may bode well for a quarterback with a chance to do things no one else at Mississippi State has done.”

Jack Jorgensen, Fansided.com
“And when he [Dak Prescott] talked about his balance between the run and pass during SEC Media Days on Tuesday, you can tell that he’s beginning to think like a leader of a football program, not just someone looking for publicity.

“For the first time in a while, there is legitimate hope for this Mississippi State football program to make some noise in the SEC, and that all lies on the shoulders of Prescott.”

Bob Carskadon, HailStateBeat
"Dak [Prescott] is a star now, and SEC Media Days proved it.

"... SEC Media Days, the largest gathering of the year in college football, 1,200 strong, was Dak’s first time in the actual spotlight – the kind cast by cameras on a set or from lights on the ceiling of a ballroom rather than bulbs from stadium lightpoles."

Michael Bonner, Clarion-Ledger
“Benardrick McKinney sat at the podium in the front right corner of the main media room last year. It was the sophomore's first taste of SEC Media Days.

“As a junior the Mississippi State linebacker returned here. He sat in the back left corner. His position changed and so did he.

“Last year, McKinney answered questions with a couple of words. He spoke quietly and mumbled at times. The spotlight focused McKinney's 102 tackles as a freshman, yet he tried to avoid the attention that came from those numbers.

“This year McKinney sat straight up. He spoke clearly and answered questions thoroughly. MSU wanted him to lead last year. He's ready this year.”

Michael Bonner, Clarion-Ledger
“MSU wanted Benardrick McKinney to lead last year. He's ready this year.

"’What's different is I'm a better leader,’ the impressive-looking linebacker said. ‘I'm a better man than I was last year; off and on the field. Deontae Skinner told me I've got to take over. I've gotta be that guy.’”

Michael Bonner, Clarion-Ledger
“Coaches dubbed [Jay] Hughes the "quarterback of the defense" last year. Instead he became a player/coach from the sideline.

“The moniker hasn't abandoned Hughes despite not playing last season. The expectations surrounding Mississippi State are high and are the same for Hughes.”

Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star
"[Dan] Mullen comes by his soccer interest through family. His mother is a British citizen and he grew up paying attention to futbol as well as football.

"The World Cup was big in his household, and Mullen sees a connection between the sports he loves.

“'I think SEC football could be compared to European soccer,' he said. 'The passion our fans have is equal. I’m sure I’ll have a lot of European nations upset ... (but) one of the things that makes this league so much fun is the passion our fan bases have for football is similar to watching the passion European soccer teams and their followings have.'"

JJ Stankevitz, NBCSports.com
"Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen is a big soccer fan, as evidenced by the question to him at SEC media day about Liverpool’s chances this season without Luis Suarez. And he’s apparently as big a fan of the Premier League (and NBC’s coverage of it, which is outstanding):

"'I don’t mind waking up early and turning on the Premiership early on Sunday mornings and Saturday mornings if you happen to have a little bit of a break before the day gets going,' Mullen said.

"Mullen, though, made a great point: The closest thing to the Premier League in America is the SEC. The fierce, localized fan loyalties, the fans traveling with the teams, the century-old rivalries/derbys, the competitiveness for recruits/transfers, the sniping between coaches and teams all make Mullen’s argument a sound one."

Dak Prescott quotes from his recent visit to the Manning Passing Academy
Teddy Renois, Houma Today 
"[Dak] Prescott said he attended the Manning Passing Academy in high school, and he is happy to return as a counselor to share his story with the campers.

"Prescott said he can feel the momentum build as the season approaches and if he improves on his footwork, he could help the Bulldogs become a dark horse in the SEC this season."


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