FILE - Mississippi State redshirt sophomore tight end Malcolm Johnson named to the 2012 John Mackey Award watch list. (BELOW) Mississippi State offensive lineman Dillon Day named to Remington Award watch list Photo by: MSU athletics
July 11, 2012 11:22:27 AM
STARKVILLE - After completing their first active season on the Mississippi State University football team, two players made it to national watch lists.
Redshirt sophomores Malcolm Johnson and Dillon Day were both named as preseason candidates to potentially be named win the best college football players at their respective positions.
Johnson, a 6-foot-2 and 225-pound tight end was one of 33 players selected to the watch list for the award that will be presented Dec. 6.
The John Mackey Award, named in honor of the former National Football League Hall of Fame player, has been presented since 2000 and includes 11 NFL players as past winners such as Dallas Clark (2001) Kellen Winslow II (2003) and former University of Florida star Aaron Hernandez (2009) of the New England Patriots. Hernandez was recruited to the Gators program by current MSU head coach Dan Mullen when he was an assistant at Florida under coach Urban Meyer.
After completing his first active season for MSU last year, Johnson finished with 206 yards receiving on 11 catches but quickly formed a bond with quarterback Tyler Russell as the duo combined for two touchdown combinations.
"The key with our receivers right now is trust and this spring is the first time I can remember where if I put the ball anywhere around them - they'll come down with it," Russell said. "At this point now, it's just repetition of plays for us."
Johnson, who will look to secure a starting position at tight end this fall, was one of only two sophomores on the watch list with University of Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
"(The tight ends are) very talented individuals and I tell them you're a big wideout and running back," MSU tight end coach Scott Sallach said in March. "Tight end is just the name of what people refer to you as."
Day started six of 13 games as a redshirt freshman for the Bulldogs last year after Tobias Smith went down in the third game vs. Louisiana State University with a season-ending injury. The 6-foot-4, 300-pound sophomore is expected to be part of the MSU starting offensive line at either center or guard this season.
"I think when you finish spring you don't have to have your lineup set," Mullen said in March. "And there's certainly no depth chart is going to be set. But you do have an idea of who is ready to go play."
Throughout this past spring, MSU continued to rotate the middle of the first-string line among three-year starter Gabe Jackson, Day and junior college transfer center Dylan Holley.
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
1. Acclaimed pianist on stage in Columbus Monday night ENTERTAINMENT
2. Being beautiful: Soak it up COLUMNS
4. Adele Elliott: Hidden COLUMNS