Mixon ready for increased role with Bulldogs

Staff Writer

Don’t let his size fool you. One of Mississippi State’s smallest players is likely to have one of the team’s biggest roles in the season ahead.

Sophomore speedster Keith Mixon has already made a name for himself in his time with the Bulldogs. Now that Fred Ross has graduated and Malik Dear is down with an ACL injury suffered in the spring, Mixon is preparing to shoulder a much larger portion of State’s offensive load. So far, he says he’s taking it all in stride.

“I try not to let the pressure get to me,” Mixon said. “I’m just going to go out there and play like I know how to play and just make plays. I know Malik is out, and if he can come back, we’d like to have him back, but I’m just going to stay confident and play how I know how to play.”

Mississippi State coaches have already proven they don’t mind putting a great deal on Mixon’s plate. A season ago, the 5-foot-8, 175-pounder played in all 13 MSU games and racked up 611 all-purpose yards. He gained yardage catching, running and returning the football.

Once again this year, coaches are preparing Mixon for a variety of responsibilities.

“They’re not throwing too much at me, but they know what I can do if I get the ball in my hands,” Mixon said. “They told me they just want me to get the ball so I can just make plays with it.”

Mixon’s biggest role will be that of receiver. There is no Ross and perhaps no Dear in the picture, so just how much is head coach Dan Mullen going to be counting on Mixon?

“Oh, in a huge way,” Mullen said. “Especially with Malik Dear being down. (Mixon and Dear) are very similar-styled players. Malik is bigger and Keith is probably a little quicker and faster, but they have a lot of similarities in their style of play and things they can do. So (Mixon) is going to be a big part of our offense.”

Mixon feels he is in the perfect position now to make the most of his opportunities. It hasn’t always been that way though for the Birmingham, Alabama native. When he first arrived in Starkville prior to the 2015 season, Mixon said his head was spinning as he went through his redshirt year. By now though, he’s completely settled in.

“My freshman year, I didn’t know what to expect,” Mixon said. “It was tough. I was ready to go home. Last (preseason) camp, it started to slow down for me. I knew the offense way better. This camp, I feel way more confident. I know the playbook really good and I’m just out there playing now.

“It’s a big difference. I know what to expect now. I know how to read defenses. I know how fast the game is now. With those years under me, it’s a big difference than just coming out and not knowing what to expect.”

So Mixon appears ready to rush, catch and return the Bulldogs to plenty of victories this season. If he has it his way, he might add a little more to his repertoire as well.

Ross got the chance to throw three passes in his MSU career, including one touchdown toss. Is this the year Mixon gets to heave a pass or two as well?

“Hopefully,” Mixon said. “I’ve got to earn some more respect from the coaches before I can do that.”