Smith on Sports: Questions about ankle sure to greet Bulldog Fitzgerald

Danny P. Smith

Staff Writer

Hello Nick, how is your ankle?

My guess is that Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald will get that question quite a bit Wednesday at Southeastern Conference Media Days.

It was about eight months ago that Fitzgerald suffered a tough ankle injury during the Battle of the Golden Egg between the Bulldogs and the Ole Miss Rebels.

Since that time, the MSU signal caller has had surgery, gone through a rehabilitation process and has been limited in offseason workouts.

All indications are that Fitzgerald will be ready to go this fall when the Bulldogs open the season against Stephen F. Austin on September 1.

The nature of the media will be to get as much information out of Fitzgerald as possible today on his health and the stability of his ankle going into fall camp. The answers Fitzgerald gives will be an indication on whether he begins his senior season on solid footing or not.

There are many who believe that Fitzgerald will be back as strong and as productive as ever.

Earlier this week, Fitzgerald made two of the most prestigious college football awards watch lists with the Maxwell Award and the Davey O'Brien Award. The Maxwell Award is given annually to the overall player of the year, while the Davey O'Brien Award is presented to the nation's best college quarterback.

Fitzgerald has developed into one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the SEC over the past two seasons. He stands as one of only four SEC signal callers to throw for 4,400 yards and rush for over 2,400 yards in a career.

In the offense of new MSU head coach Joe Moorhead, Fitzgerald may be asked to pass more.

The Bulldogs are going to be different offensively under Moorhead, but it remains to be seen just how drastic the change will be. Regardless if MSU throws more than it has in the past, Fitzgerald is going to be a valuable piece to the plan.

Fitzgerald knows how to find the end zone no matter if he's throwing or running. He ranks second in school history and 21st in the Southeastern Conference with 72 career touchdowns with a balance of 39 passing and 33 rushing.

Even if the Bulldogs do throw more in 2018, Fitzgerald's mobility should help him get out of trouble. The SEC still remains a very tough league with very unforgiving defenses.

Again, the stability of Fitzgerald's ankle will be tested every time he scrambles out of the pocket or decides to take off for one of his famous breakaway runs down the field.

Fitzgerald seems to be a Bulldog in every sense of the word and will be out to prove any doubters wrong in the coming season.

It will be interesting Wednesday to see how Fitzgerald answers all of the questions that will be thrown at him. That will be the first step in letting us know how he feels about the 2108 MSU season.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.