By Robert Wilson


              True freshman quarterback Will Rogers might be making his first collegiate start for Mississippi State when the Bulldogs play host to Vanderbilt Saturday in Starkville.

              Graduate transfer C.J. Costello has started every game this season, but left the game last week against No. 2 Alabama with an apparent concussion. MSU coach Mike Leach said in Monday’s news conference that there was a 50-50 chance that Rogers would start against Vanderbilt. Rogers completed 24 of 37 passes for 147 yards against Alabama. Rogers has completed 68. 6 percent of his passes for 310 yards and one touchdown in three games this season.

              “I think he does a good job. I mean you’ve got a guy that if COVID hadn’t hit, he’s have been at the prom three months ago,” said Leach about Rogers. “I think that a guy that comes in and has the limited experience he does and does some quality things, I think it’s been impressive. And he’s got a good presence and demeanor with the huddle.”  

              Rogers started every game at Brandon High since his first game as a sophomore.  Brandon coach Tyler Peterson has a feeling that Rogers would be his starting quarterback as a sophomore.

              “Will was our starting quarterback on our ninth grade team and I knew he was going to be our guy as a sophomore,” Peterson said. “We had a two year starter (Brady Anderson) who had graduated and Will was talented, a leader and a hard worker who took over for Brady. Will would come up on Sundays and work out on his own. He would be in the coaches’ office before school watching film with his dad (Brandon offensive coordinator Wyatt Rogers). Will is always preparing.”

              In his first high school game, Rogers completed 15 of 27 passes for 131 yards against one of the best defenses every year in Mississippi. Madison Central beat Brandon 10-3 in that opener in 2017.

              “Will threw it 27 times in his first game and you don’t see that very often, but I had confidence in him,” Peterson said. “He knew what the ball was supposed to go. The moment wasn’t too big for him.  Will wanted the ball in his hands.”

              Rogers made big news the next week and got his first of many wins as a starter when he led Brandon to a 37-6 victory over South Panola. He completed 12 of 19 passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns. South Panola is considered the top football program in Mississippi and had not suffered a loss by that many points in at least 14 years. Rogers completed 64.8 percent of his passes for 2,476 yards and 18 TDs with seven interceptions as a sophomore and 59.9 percent for 3,009 yards and 23 TDs as a junior. He completed 66.7 percent for 3,609 yards and 38 TDs with only three interceptions as a senior. He threw 27 TD passes and 199 passes without an interception in the last eight games of the season.

              Rogers, who was named the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Football Player of the Year last season, passed for 9,904 yards and 79 TDs in his career.


Demarcus Thomas is back with his teammates after a scary incident at practice Monday resulted in the freshman tight end losing feeling and movement in his body. Fortunately, the Whatley, Alabama, native recovered after being airlifted to a hospital in Memphis and was released that night.

Kiffin, who was shaken by the injury sustained by one of his young players, was relieved to see Thomas walk back into the Manning Center and rejoin the team.
“I talked to him before practice. He was out there, which was awesome,” Kiffin said Wednesday. “You don’t appreciate things until they’re taken away. Like a lost wallet or cell phone, you lose one and get it back and you’re right back where you started, but you have this great feeling. That’s what it was like. That was a scary deal to watch. If you haven’t ever seen something like that, you can’t understand it. An 18-, 19-year-old kid lying there and can’t feel anything is pretty scary.”
It is unclear when Thomas, who has appeared in five of the Rebels’ six games this season, will return to action on the field. Kiffin said that he’ll have to clear concussion protocol before returning.


              The SEC East showdown between No. 5 Georgia and No. 8 Florida (2:30 p.m. on CBS) will likely have a former Mississippi player or coach make a winning decision or play.

              Georgia has former Southern Miss head coach Todd Monken as its offensive coordinator and former Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke as its associate head coach and offensive line coach. Also, former Jones County Junior College quarterback Stetson Bennett is the starting Bulldog quarterback and former Horn Lake High All-American Nakobe Dean is a starting inside linebacker for Georgia and one of its best defensive players.

              Former Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen is Florida’s head coach and former MSU defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is Florida’s defensive coordinator. Other former MSU assistants at Florida are Brian Johnson (quarterback coach), John Hevesy (running game coordinator), Billy Gonzalez (passing game coordinator), Greg Knox (running backs coach and special teams coordinator), Ron English (safeties coach), Tim Brewster (tight ends coach) and Christian Robinson (linebackers coach).