Farmer Fant hits the field

By Gregg Ellis

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE - There's a good reason Mississippi State quarterback Kevin Fant is sporting a farmer's tan these days.

That's because he was farming this summer.

The 6-foot-2, 212-pound junior signal caller from Moss Point spent May and June in Pheba working at Prestige Farm. For 8 to 10 hours a day, the industrial technology major drove a tractor and helped maintain a kenaf crop.

What's kenaf?

It's a woody plant that grows to 12 feet and is used to make paper products. Swine farms have also used it in their bioreactor/filtration systems in hopes of controlling odor problems.

"It kept me in the heat, and got me ready for two-a-days," Fant said. "I really enjoyed it."

At times, Fant did find himself in the luxury of a closed-cab tractor, complete with air-conditioning and a radio.

"I had to be careful, because it was easy to go to sleep in there," he said with a grin.

His brief stint as a farmer now complete, his attention is focused on another type of field - one where football games are played.

Unlike last year, Fant enters the season opener at Oregon as the starter.

"I've been throwing all summer getting ready," he said.

Fant, along with the rest of his teammates, begin two-a-day practices today.

If Fant goes down . . .

As is the case for any starting quarterback, there's always the backup that must be ready at all times if duty calls.

This year, that distinction belongs to Kyle York, a 6-0, 205-pound redshirt freshman from Spring, Texas.

"It's definitely different this year," said York, who spent the summer as a counselor at Camp Kanakuk in Branson, Mo. "I have to be more of a leader by being more vocal and leading by example. As a backup, you are always one play away.

"But in practice, I have to prepare as if I'm the starter. I have all the confidence in the world in Kevin, but there's always the chance of something happening."

In the combined spring scrimmages, York completed 16-of-39 passes for 239 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. He also rushed nine times for 23 yards and three touchdowns.

How are the freshmen?

MSU coach Jackie Sherrill wasn't short on compliments when it came to his freshmen, who began practicing Saturday.

"They have been doing very well in practice," the dean of SEC coaches said. "They are all very talented."

He also said at least 15, including true and redshirt freshmen, will see significant playing time this year.

He did not disclose names.

From basketball to football

How exactly did Michael Gholar get from the hardcourt to the gridiron?

Very easily, according to the 6-5, 200-pound free safety, who played the previous four years on the Bulldogs' basketball team.

"A friend of mine told me I should try out," said Gholar, who last played football five years ago at Prentiss. "So I thought, why not?"

Soon after the conclusion of basketball, Gholar made a visit to Sherrill.

Sherrill welcomed him to the team, and Gholar didn't waste anytime making an impact. In three spring scrimmages, he posted 10 tackles and returned an interception for 28 yards.

"It's been a big adjustment," Gholar said. "But the conditioning in basketball helped me get into football shape really quick."

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