STARKVILLE — Dan Mullen believes in giving young coaches a shot.
The Mississippi State football coach remembers how mentor Urban Meyer helped make him a better coach while working together at the University of Utah and the University of Florida.
He credits former Syracuse football coach Paul Pasqualoni for giving him his first chance to coach as a graduate assistant at the Division I level and helping mold his coaching methodology.
That”s why he had no qualms or reservations about promoting Angelo Mirando to be MSU”s new wide receivers coach.
Mirando spent two years as a graduate assistant at MSU, working with quarterbacks one season before helping coach wide receivers this season.
Although Mirando is 25, he coached slot receivers — primarily Chad Bumphis and Brandon Heavens — this season. Mirando coached the wide receivers during bowl preparations after Mark Hudspeth left MSU to take the job as head football coach at Louisiana-Lafayette.
Impressed by Mirando”s attentiveness and willingness to do whatever it took to get ahead, Mullen rewarded “go-getter” with his first full-time coaching job.
“I want people that are hungry and are coming the way up in the profession and want to prove themselves,” Mullen said. “Urban Meyer took the time to help develop me as a young coach. I worked for Paul Pasqualoni, Bob Davie, Kevin Rogers, who was a great mentor to me. They took the time when I was a young coach to help develop me.
“I hope I”m doing the same for a lot of young coaches we”re bringing in here.”
Mirando”s chances of replacing Hudspeth on a full-time basis received a lift earlier this month following a 52-14 win against Michigan in the Gator Bowl. With just five receivers, the Bulldogs had receivers make 14 of the team”s 18 receptions. MSU didn”t field a receiver in the Gator Bowl with more than two years of experience.
Redshirt freshman Ricco Sanders recorded his first catch and first career touchdown, while freshman Michael Carr posted career numbers with three catches for 65 yards and a touchdown.
“That, to me, is better than anything anybody can impress me with drawing on the board on an interview,” Mullen said of Mirando. “He did it with our players. They improved and played their best game of the year while he was coaching them. It made it (the decision to hire him) pretty easy after that point.”
Mullen wanted a seamless transition in his three coaching moves this offseason, including the promotion of Chris Wilson to defensive coordinator and the hiring of Geoff Collins to coach linebackers.
Mirando was a natural fit.
“Not much changed, except I was running the meeting,” Mirando said. “Instead of sitting in the back and watching coach Hud — who did a heck of a job with those kids — run the meeting, I got to run (it).
“It”s a great opportunity. I think coach Mullen came in for five minutes to watch me teach, and that was it.”
Mirando”s journey to becoming a position coach started as a player at Case-Western Reserve. He started a blog for a class and a wrote a 25-page manuscript about recruiting and breaking into coaching, which helped him make contacts and learn how to recruit as a volunteer at Akron. He also came to know Collins, who is a former coordinator of recruiting at the University of Alabama.
Mirando also served as a volunteer and graduate assistant at the University of Florida before following Mullen to Starkville.
Mirando agrees he shares Mullen”s passion to accomplish the biggest goals as a coach.
“He GA”d for seven years,” Mirando said of Mullen. “He stuck it out in this profession, and has done a heck of a job going from a young quarterbacks coach to maturing to a young offensive coordinator to winning two national championships. I would love to have his career.
“My path has been a little bit different, but he”s had a heck of a career.”
Mirando enters the offseason with a good working relationship with his receivers, all of which besides Leon Berry return next season.
After the Bulldogs closed the season with three straight games of 200 passing yards or more, the group heads into the offseason with plenty of confidence.
Because of his age, Mirando feels he”ll have a significant impact in recruiting, where the Bulldogs are still pursuing South Panola All-America wideout Nickolas Brassell.
Mirando isn”t concerned with his youth being an issue in selling kids to play receiver at MSU. He hopes his ability to relate and to connect with them and his work with the slot receivers can give him a base.
“Doesn”t matter if you”re 45 or 25, coach your players hard, love your players hard,” Mirando said. “That”s what I keep going back to. They gotta know I care about them and they gotta know I”m gonna make them better. Recruiting is a young man”s game. The younger you are the better.”