The Mississippi State Bulldogs entered preseason camp in better shape than last.

That’s one thing that jumped out to coach Joe Moorhead when the team went through its first practice of the fall on Friday. He marveled at the job new strength and conditioning coach Cory Bichey did with team during the offseason and allowed them to hit the ground running as they opened camp.

“It was apparent that the guys came back in great shape,” Moorhead said. “We went over the testing numbers during the summer and just seeing the guys running around bigger, stronger, faster, more athletic and more explosive was an incredible positive.”

MSU must replace four starters on offense and seven on defense so there are plenty of position battles and competition to keep an eye on throughout camp.

“One of things I was most encouraged with about today was the sense of urgency and the execution has been increased because of the enhanced competition at every position,” Moorhead said. “Going across the board where there are battles going on, guys that want to get on the field are looking behind or in front of them and know they have to be on top of their game over the course of practice if they want the opportunity to play.”

Of course the position battle that peaks the most interest is at quarterback where junior Keytaon Thompson and Penn State graduate transfer Tommy Stevens are competing for the starting job.

Greenwood’s Marquiss Spencer, a 6-4, 280-pounder, is listed as a starter as MSU’s began camp. The former Greenwood High School standout   appeared in the first four contests of last season before being sidelined with season-ending surgery following an upper-body injury.

As a sophomore, Spencer played in all 13 contests as an edge rusher — setting career high numbers with 19 total tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. He also added one sack and two fumble recoveries.

Kwatrivous Johnson of Greenwood, a 6-foo-t-7, 3330-pound redshirt freshman, is listed behind starter Tyre Phillips at left tackle.

Johnson, a 6-7, 335-pound redshirt freshman,  saw action in two games — vs. Louisiana (9/15) and vs. Louisiana Tech (11/3).

Moorhead stated he will rotate reps between all of his signal callers so each has an even amount of reps directing the first, second and third team offenses.

When the first day of competition was completed, Moorhead mentioned that all of his quarterbacks shined at some point, including freshmen Jalen Mayden and Garrett Shrader, and even walk-on Logan Burnett.

“It was one practice in helmets and shirts and they all had their moments today,” Moorhead said. “I’m just excited to see how the competition plays out.”

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