Mississippi State football: 'Experienced' Tommy Stevens feels like veteran with Bulldogs
STARKVILLE – He looked like he'd been there before, but he hadn't.
Mississippi State graduate transfer Tommy Stevens stood behind a podium at the Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex in front of a herd of reporters. He wore a maroon MSU polo, grey gym shorts and all-white Crocs.
Yes, the goofy-looking sandals.
Stevens said his old roommate at Penn State used to wear them "all the time," so he would steal them because they were easy to put on. Stevens liked wearing them so much he bought himself a pair.
When Stevens walked up to the podium in his Crocs, it was the first time he had done so to speak to local media since he made his transfer from Penn State official on May 31.
Stevens started practice with his new Mississippi State teammates this past Friday. The biggest adjustment he's had to make since coming from up north hasn't had to do with learning new plays or getting acclimated with new teammates.
It's been adapting to the weather.
"Everybody always asks what's the biggest thing for me," Stevens said. "It's gotta be the heat. The heat has to be the biggest thing for me."
Stevens is comfortable enough to sport his Crocs around the football complex, and he's comfortable enough to look like a leader when it's time to take them off and put on a pair of cleats. With just two practices in maroon and white under his belt, Stevens said he feels like he's been here much longer than a couple months.
Stevens, who was coached by Joe Moorhead for two years when he was the offensive coordinator at Penn State, said Moorhead's offense at Mississippi State is "pretty much all the same." He said the only difference has been the way some plays are signaled.
Stevens, now early in his third year under Moorhead's tutelage, said he feels more like a Bulldog veteran rather than a newcomer.
"Really, I guess that makes me the most experienced person here in this offense," Stevens said. "It helps me be a coach of some point and to be able to help those guys learn and give them examples of some of the things we did at Penn State. Things like that and any way I can help, I think the guys see that."
Junior quarterback Keytaon Thompson certainly sees it. Once the incumbent QB who seemed poised to take the starting role by the reins, Thompson is now battling Stevens for that job. That hasn't stopped him from working with Stevens in a way that helps both players improve.
"With him being in Moorhead's offense with the time he was there and my time here, we both have little tips for each other on certain plays," Thompson said. "We just work together to try to make the team as best as possible."
Stevens said it reminds him of a similar dynamic from his time at Penn State. When he lost the starting quarterback position to Trace McSorely, it didn't lower his drive. Instead, it might've heightened it. Stevens said he was more determined than ever to keep working to get better.
No matter who wins the job at Mississippi State, Stevens wants to see the same tight-knit culture develop in Starkville.
"I think that having that kind of relationship with not only him but the other quarterbacks in the room, obviously there is only going to be one starting quarterback, but if all of us can work together and one way or another help the guy that is the starter, that's the most important thing," Stevens said.
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