By JOEL COLEMAN
For Mississippi State’s spring practices, the Bulldog defense wears white uniforms. MSU’s offense dons maroon. Under normal circumstances, there would be no question what color the No. 12 jersey of safety Jamal Peters would be, but with two of Mississippi State’s primary receiving options hurt for the spring, MSU head coach Dan Mullen has put Peters in a different shade than usual.
“(Wide receiver) Donald Gray was hurt and the receivers don’t really have that many with the (Fred) Ross injury too and (Mullen) just told me he needed me to play a little receiver since I played it in high school,” Peters said. “It’s not a hard transition, but with me not playing it for a long time, I just have to get a feel for it again.”
Peters didn’t just play wide receiver during his prep career at Bassfield. He excelled at it. Though he left high school as the state of Mississippi’s top-rated prospect as a safety, he also caught 28 passes for 581 yards and six touchdowns in his senior year.
Needing bodies at receiver, the potential of Peters at the position was too much for Mullen to pass up this spring as he gives the 6-foot-2, 206-pounder a look.
“He’s such a talented football player,” Mullen said. “We have to evaluate him right here and make sure we put him in the position where he can be most successful in his future. We’ve seen him a bunch at defensive back. He’s good there. I want to see, because he was a talented offensive player in high school, if he might be better on that side of the ball.”
Peters got his initial chance to perform in a game situation durning MSU’s first scrimmage of the spring last Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium. Though he was hampered by a broken pinky in his left hand, Peters caught a pair of passes for 17 yards. Peters feels his production can improve from that, not only because his hand needs to heal, but because there are still some things he has to get back accustomed to. With his time on the defensive side of the ball on hold, at least for now, Peters is determined to better himself on offense.
“I’ve got to work on running the routes and coming out of my breaks faster,” Peters said. “Right now, (the coaching staff) is not really talking to me a lot about (playing) defense. They’re just telling me to keep getting better at receiver. With my injury, they don’t worry about me catching the ball. They just want me to focus on getting out of my breaks and learning the plays more.”
Peters doesn’t know what his future will hold come this fall. Maybe he’ll be back at his familiar safety position. Or perhaps he’ll be streaking to the end zone with the ball in his hands as a receiver. Peters says he isn’t picky. He just wants to win football games.
“It’s just a wait-and-see kind of deal,” Peters said. “It doesn’t matter to me where I play. I’m going to do whatever it takes for the team. I like to hit people and I like to score touchdowns, so I’m just going to do whatever I have to do for the team.”