This summer has been a tough one, heat-wise. You are one of the leaders on the team. How did you help the guys get through this summer?
"It's definitely all about pushing, letting them know that you don't have a weakness out here in the heat. You continue to push them through everything and encourage them so they can actually do it. When they see me doing it, I hope it makes them think why can't they also do it. For me, it's putting that mindset into them."
How long did it take you to get that kind of mindset?
"When I came here I kind of had it a little bit. So, I was kind of ahead of the game before I came here."
But kind of being ahead of the game probably isn't quite good enough for a strength coach like Matt Balis.
"Yeah, exactly. With him coming in and pushing us, that first year was pretty hard. And it has steadily gotten harder and harder. But being with him every morning, his mentality rubs off on you. You are with him every day, so you have no choice but to get that mentality from him."
What positives will you take from working with Matt Balis after you leave Mississippi State?
"The things that he put us through this summer and throughout my three years here I definitely will be able to take with me and overcome a lot of life's challenges that I will go through throughout life. You will continue to work hard no matter what your situation is, always continue to grind and do everything 110%. Whatever you are going through at the time, you always know that hard work will pay off in the end. That's what I will take with me when I go into the work force once I leave here."
The coaches want to take the players to another level this coming season. And you were 9-4 last season. How different was it this summer compared to last summer?
"There were more fourth quarters (workouts) when you were dogged tired during the workouts. (As an example) after running, you are doing something extra. Instead of going four quarters we are going into double overtimes in workouts. So, that has continued to push us. Pursuing excellence in the fourth quarter helps us persevere through the fourth quarter and also us to continue going beyond."
You are one of the veterans on the linebacking group. Most of the others are very young. You saw them this past spring and watched them work out during the summer. What are your thoughts about them as a group after watching them the past few months?
"You can see through their mindset that they know their time is here. They know they have to perform now. It's no more redshirting and sitting around and letting the other guy play. And from what they have showed me what they can do this summer they are ready to go."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.