Wilson On Track For 100-Tackle Season

Bulldog defenses with a 100-tackles-season linebacker are the norm. But two? That was a long time ago, the 1997 season in fact, when a pair of Dogs tallied a hundred or more stops. Now here in 2011 a couple of current linebackers are closing in on such status.

Junior OLB Cameron Lawrence has already reached this benchmark with exactly 100 total tackles through eleven games. Lawrence has five games with double-digit stops already including his last two weekends. But this race isn't entirely won, because senior MLB Brandon Wilson checks in this week with 89 tackles of his own.

Triple digits are within sight, Wilson figures. "That's impressive. We always have our preseason goals, Coach sat down with us and my goal was actually 110. I should be able, I will be able to get that, we'll get this win this Saturday and be bowl-eligible. And going to the bowl game I feel I definitely will be able to get 110."

Yeah, two more games definitely should do the trick for Wilson. He's not had less than seven stops in the last eight games, a streak begun by his 18-tackle evening against Louisiana Tech. Going into the final regular-season weekend, Wilson is 4th in SEC tackle average with Lawrence one slot better. Both Bulldogs trail a pair of Kentucky defenders who do get more snaps to work with than State's defense usually does.

For that matter Wilson could surely have topped 100 and might even be leading the league now were it not for Lawrence getting in his way. "Yeah," Wilson laughed. "But Cam is a tackling machine and a great player. The sky is the limit for Cam." Besides, these ‘backers complement each other in first identifying and then making the plays, so Wilson doesn't mind sharing the stats.

"But it's truly a blessing, it reflects our coaches and our teammates. They've been able to do their assignments and set us up, the coaches put us in the right schemes and get us in positions to make plays."

Wilson, Lawerence, and comrades expect to make many plays this weekend as Mississippi State hosts Ole M…sorry, The School Up North as Coach Dan Mullen refers to the rival. Wilson recalls some initial confusion when the title first came up three years ago. For that matter, the former walk-on and Alabama native admitted that it took him a while to appreciate what he'd gotten into as part of Mississippi's all-important athletic event.

"I never knew how big a deal it was until I went into practice that week my freshman year. But after that I definitely found out how big it was, playing the school up north." It got even bigger after Mullen arrived and kicked the arch-rivalry up a few more notches. Now?

"I'm pretty pumped for it," Wilson said. "Coming in from Tuscaloosa all I knew was the Iron Bowl. Being a part of this, I'm definitely looking forward to being able to start in the Egg Bowl this year." And he really does have all week to look forward to Saturday, what with the campus on holiday break and no classes or outside interruptions.

"That's all it is. Our time is here and we're focused on beating the school up north."

Wilson has taken care of another potential, personal distraction. He's only a third-year player counting that first season as a walk-on, but is due to graduate in spring. Mullen has given Wilson the option of being recognized in 2011 Senior Day on the home field, or if he wishes returning for a true senior season. This week was the deadline since lists had to be made and scripts written for pre-game ceremonies.

"We talked Sunday night and I kind of felt that was probably the best decision career-wise," said Wilson. "I've been talking with different companies in Atlanta, in business management and human resources." And with good prospects in hand, it would be difficult to turn down anything with the current shaky economy and job market.

At the same time…the door isn't entirely shut on Wilson's college career even if he is part of this Senior Day. Lawrence will back his choice either way, but also been clear they could have a lot of fun together again in 2012.

It's tempting, Wilson agreed.

"Oh yeah, our chemistry is definitely there, and talking with Cam he told me whatever is right for me he'll support my decision. That's been my whole team's aspect on things. But if I get that gut feeling that I want to do one more year, Coach Mullen and the staff has allowed me to come back and participate."

Not just participate but, if this Battle for the Golden Egg is won, go for something not done by any Bulldogs since 1939-42. Those were the last State squads to take four-straight in the rivalry game. Even now a three-peat after the wins of 2009 and '10 will be a MSU milestone. "We're going out to break that tradition, too," said Wilson.

A tradition against who, exactly? Wilson said he's never heard his coach utter the name ‘Ole Miss'. For that matter the words have been openly discouraged in Mississippi State's locker room and younger Dogs trained early lest they slip. Hmmm, what would happen in such a case?

"He'd probably get that blank stare, you've got to wash your mouth out, stuff like that."

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