March 25, 2009
STARKVILLE -- It has been a long seven months for Mississippi State offensive lineman Tobias Smith, of Columbus.
After breaking his left leg during two-a-days and having surgery last August, Smith went through rehabilitation and rejoined the Bulldogs for the first day of spring practice Tuesday.
MSU coach Dan Mullen was happy Smith could be a part of his first practice in Starkville.
Smith a graduate of Columbus High School, was excited to get back on the field, even if it was just a practice.
"It was hard getting used to the pace at first, but after a while, I got used to it and (was) back to normal," Smith said.
Smith showed no signs of a limp as he worked out with the first offensive line, which included former Caledonia High player Derek Sherrod.
"We always talk about the Columbus side of the line and we''re going to hold our part down," Smith said. "It''s good to play beside him because I never got to play against him."
Former Falcon Tyson Lee took a good look at Smith from his quarterback spot and liked what he saw.
"Tobias is great and he works hard," Lee said. "He''s probably one of the strongest guys I know. He''s a smart guy and understands his role."
The Bulldogs practiced for more than three hours, with approximately 75 fans looking on at the start. The viewers dwindled to about 10 by the time the practice ended.
Mullen admitted his squad has a long way to go, but he was pleased with the effort.
"We''ve just got a lot of execution and lot of learning to do," Mullen said. "We have a day off to get things cleaned up and hopefully be better Thursday."
Smith isn''t the only player recovering from an injury. Wide receiver Brandon McRae and linebacker Jamar Chaney are trying to bounce back from broken legs.
McRae, who broke his leg against Ole Miss in the last game of the 2008 season, dressed out but was limited in what he could do. He didn''t stay for the entire workout.
Chaney broke his leg in the season opener against Louisiana Tech and missed the rest of the schedule.
After being out for a similar amount of time as Smith, Chaney welcomed the chance to practice.
"It feels good to dress out and come out for practice," Chaney said. "It may seem like just a little thing, but I really missed it and I am happy to be back out here."
Ninety-seven Bulldogs attended the first day of spring practice, but running back Robert Elliot (knee), wide receiver Andrew Ellard (knee), and offensive lineman Mark Melichar (illness) weren''t able to go.
MSU continues spring drills at 3:30 p.m. Thursday and at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Mullen encourages fans to attend practices.
"We just want to embrace the community," Mullen said. "As fans come out and get the opportunity to watch their team practice this spring, they''ll have fun watching."