By JOEL COLEMAN
Mississippi State junior wide receiver Gabe Myles will always be the son of former Bulldog player Eddie Myles. So as Gabe switches uniform numbers this season from his father’s No. 35, to his old Starkville High School digit of No. 5, Gabe isn’t trying to run from his heritage. He’s simply ready to make a name all to his own at MSU.
“(No. 5), that’s my number,” Gabe Myles said. “I came in and wore No. 35 because my dad played here. It was just kind of a thank you to my pops. At some point though, you have to change and do something for yourself.”
Gabe is and always will be proud to be Eddie’s boy, but he says now, he’s primed to break outside of that label. Gabe has already made strides to do just that with his performances the last two years.
In his redshirt freshman season in 2014, Gabe played in all 13 games, started three and caught 22 passes for 178 yards.
He followed that up with a sophomore season that, though hampered by an ankle injury that limited him to just 10 games, saw him notch 12 receptions for 175 yards and two touchdowns.
Essentially all of Myles’ previous damage has been done from the slot. However along with his new number will come new responsibilities in 2016. For the first time in his Bulldog career, Myles will spend time as an outside receiver.
Myles might still get the chance to play in the slot on occasion, but with former receiver De’Runnya Wilson’s big frame no longer a part of the MSU offensive attack, the Bulldogs are utilizing Myles and several others at multiple receiver positions to take up the slack.
So far, so good, with Myles’ transition to the outside says Mississippi State receivers coach Billy Gonzales.
“It has gone really good,” Gonzales said. “I’m really excited about having him use his speed out on the perimeter. It’s like anything else. You work as hard as you can and you like to see those results shine. I’d like to see those results shine for him because he’s done an exceptional job as far as work ethic for me.”
Myles’ work ethic fits right in with his infectious, upbeat attitude. Whether it’s at practice, or walking on campus to class, Myles exudes positivity. He’s often smiling or dancing, and that sense of joy rubs off on the rest of MSU’s receivers.
“You want to coach a bunch of guys that are excited, that have emotion and that are passionate,” Gonzales said. “For (Myles), it’s all about mood. There are some times football is hard. You have to love it to keep going.
“(Head coach Dan Mullen) does a good job of putting music out there (during practices) and all of a sudden you see a couple of guys dancing. (Myles’) energy is just like anything else. It’s energy and it spreads.”
With his skill set and his optimism, it might not be long now before Gabe truly comes into his own. At the moment, he may still best be known as Eddie’s son, but perhaps by later this year, it’ll be Eddie who has to settle for being known as Gabe’s dad.
“I think I can play like Gabe Myles now,” Gabe said. “Wearing (No. 5) again, I have my mojo back, I feel.”