A Q&A With MSU All-American Derek Sherrod

Mississippi State senior offensive tackle Derek Sherrod has earned numerous honors at the conclusion of his final season at MSU, including All-American honors and being named a finalist for the Campbell Trophy award. Derek talked about those honors as well as MSU earning a bowl bid, the second during his four-year MSU career.

This is your second bowl game during your four-year career. What are your thoughts about that?
"It's a great accomplishment, a great feeling. We came in as a new team and expected a lot from ourselves. So, we came into the season working hard each and every week. And this is how we were eventually rewarded, going to a bowl game. Now, we'll go out the next couple of weeks and have fun with the practices, then when we go down there we are going to be all business."

Was this first bowl game practice different than the others emotionally?
"It was a little bit different because it was a little bit more relaxed. But we know what is down the road when we face Michigan. Right now, we are getting everybody a little bit more work and going back to the fundamentals just to get back to the basics."

Did the players speculate among yourselves about which bowl game you would go to? And if so, where did you think State would wind up going?
"Yeah, there was a lot of talk about where we were going, but we really didn't know. I heard more than likely that we were going to the Chick-fil-A bowl. But it all works out for a reason and we are always glad to be invited to any bowl game because it is a special event for our team."

Did it surprise you when it was announced that it was the Gator Bowl?
"It did a little bit but we are all excited about it. It's just a great bowl game. And we are going to go and have fun and get another victory."

Bowl games are a team reward, but you have earned a lot of individual awards as well, such as being selected an All-American and also being a finalist for the Campbell Trophy. As a finalist you won an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship. That award is not only for being a good football player but also good academically and a community leader. How big of a deal is that award to you and how big of a deal was it to your parents?
"It was a big deal to me and a huge deal to my parents. They couldn't be more proud of me. The thing about it is it's all about working hard. And I've tried to work hard. Coach Mullen always stresses being a champion. And that is what our whole team tries to work for. He stresses being a champion is not a sometime thing, it's an all the time thing. That's working on the field and off the field. And I really take pride in that. I try to work hard at everything I do. This just goes to show you that you will get rewarded in the long run. And I guess a couple of awards later and a few recognitions later it proved to be true."

It's very possible that you will be a very high draft pick in the upcoming NFL draft, possibly a first-round pick so it's very likely you will wind up playing in the NFL for years to come. What will you do with the $18,000 scholarship if you are playing in the NFL? Is it something you can use anytime in the future?
"I'm not quite sure. I'm going to have ask about that. I think it's there for whenever I do choose to use it, when I come back to school and finish my Masters. And I do plan on coming back and finishing my Masters because I need to stay right there with my brother (former MSU football player Dezmond Sherrod) who has his Masters."

Speaking of your brother, I know how close you two are, so how thrilled is he about your honors and accomplishments?
"He's very excited for me. He's always picks with me (laugh), saying once he does something great, I always do something a little bit better. But he's real excited for me."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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