STARKVILLE • Garrett Shrader is making the move to slot receiver.
Shrader, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound sophomore, played in 10 games and started four games at quarterback for Mississippi State last season.
Head coach Mike Leach confirmed the decision on Saturday after Mississippi State’s second scrimmage of fall camp. He also said transfer quarterback KJ Costello from Stanford would be the starter if the team played today while true freshman Will Rogers has earned the backup quarterback role.
“He’s looked pretty good,” Leach said in Saturday’s press conference. “He had a touchdown two days prior to today and had a really good play today. The biggest thing is getting him tuned in and I think he has to get into shape because there’s a different type of shape playing quarterback and receiver.”
“He’s looked impressive. He’s got a sense of space and routes and he’s tough to bring down. I’ve been impressed with the way he’s looked.”
Leach said Shrader has been very receptive and seems excited to try the new position. Shrader is a talented runner, and he proved that last season at QB.
He rushed 113 times for 587 yards and six touchdowns last year, averaging 5.2 yards per rush. Along with that, Leach said he is a large body which equals a big target, can be explosive with the ball in his hands and catches the ball well.
“You hate to leave his talents on the shelf,” Leach said. “Those other quarterbacks, they don’t have some of the gifts that Garrett does.”
Leach doesn’t know if this will be a long-term move or not, but said it is the move right now.
Shrader joins a loaded receiving corps that is expected to have eight receivers rotating throughout each game.
Lots of targets
Osirus Mitchell, JaVonta Payton and Austin Williams are three of the most experienced receivers returning, and all three are expected to be part of the rotation this season. Leach said Saturday that Williams will be a starter.
There are also talented newcomers in Alabama transfer Tyrell Shavers and Co-Lin transfer Malik Heath, along with freshmen Lideatrick Griffin and Jaden Walley.
How Shrader will fit into that rotation is yet to be seen, but Leach likes what he has seen from him so far.
“He’s big and fast and is a really good blocker,” Leach said. “He doesn’t go out and just bite a guy, but it’s pretty tough for those smaller guys to untangle him. … Right now we’re just seeing previews and glimpses of what I think he can do, but I think he can get acclimated pretty fast.”