Broomfield Goes For Career Clean-Sweep

He'd just made a splendid play by any measure, reading a deep Tennessee throw and getting over for the interception. Corey Broomfield was justifiably pleased with himself for forcing the turnover. "And one fan yells ‘that was a good play, but won't ever beat that Egg Bowl your freshman year!' So it goes to show you they'll never forget that play."

Nor should they. Or we. Or anyone who recalls how Broomfield put an exclamation point on Mississippi State's 2009 upset of Ole Miss. It was the then-freshman's clever interception and 62-yard return that provided the final margin of 41-27 victory, in a watershed moment for both programs.

Broomfield has picked a few more passes since then of course. And he's played his part in two more Egg Bowl Bulldog wins. Still, "That's probably my favorite moment." Not that the fifth-year senior would mind scoring another such moment in his last go-round with the Rebels. Never mind he hails from Palm Bay, Fla., and had to learn about State-Ole Miss on the job.

Nobody born in Mississippi puts higher value on this annual fracas and having the Golden Egg in safe possession. "It's the Super Bowl of Mississippi," said Broomfield.

"A lot of people say football is personal. But this week it really is. A lot of these guys played with those guys on the same team, they come from the same junior college, they're cousins, Little League teammates. It's very, very personal and it's going to be a great game."

As well as a great challenge for the Bulldog defense as they match up with an opponent which plays in a hurry and can make big plays before anyone recognizes what happened. Every Dog on the field has a set of specific and alternate duties to handle, none more so than the backfield. Against a no-huddle offense Broomfield has to recognize his own responsibility, communicate it to others as well as get their input. One snap might find him in straight coverage; the next racing up in support; and another guessing whether a rolling quarterback is really running after all.

For that matter Mississippi State is supposed to believe this week that Rebel quarterback Bo Wallace's sore shoulder will hamper his downfield game. "I ain't buying that!" said Broomfield. He has personal reason not to, too. Early in that 2009 game Broomfield had to step out with a separated shoulder of his own. "They put me back together and I kept playing, that's part of football!"

"One thing they do is they're going to throw the ball deep, and especially this week they're going to throw it deep. He can say what he wants but we're going to be in coverage and I'm going to keep my eyes where they're supposed to be at."

There are several Rebel route-runners Broomfield will have to track, whether speedsters or bigger bodies or whatever. The one of most obvious interest would be Donte Moncrief, one of the toughest man-on-man matchups in this or any league. Particularly if spotted next to Broomfield who gives up some thirty pounds and at least four inches. Is Broomfield bothered?

Not judging by his trademark hee-heeee! at the suggestion. "I've been seeing great receivers all throughout the SEC going against our secondary," he reminded. "And we've been doing a pretty good job matching up with every team. So it will be another great matchup of SEC talent."

And give Broomfield his due. Diminutive he might be by SEC standards, but there's a lot more than just a big heart in this Bulldog. The guy has survived and thrived three seasons out on a corner with ten interceptions to show for his time. Well, not all spent at cornerback; after a few nickel-package turns at safety the first three years Broomfield was moved to starting strong safety this season. It made room for Darius Slay to work that corner opposite Johnthan Banks.

For seven wins the results were excellent, especially with nine picks by those three seniors and a dozen total for the defense. But when State went three losses and no interceptions the staff started shuffling again, even replacing Broomfield in the starting lineup with Jay Hughes. Slay found himself alternating with Jamerson Love, and so on.

Now the Bulldogs have found what looks like the right combination; the same four starters as before but with everyone adjusting and alternating as needed from there. It worked well in holding Arkansas to two touchdowns, both early, and bodes better for the Egg Bowl. Broomfield certainly seems to be right back at home when he shifts outside from safety.

"Well, you know, that's my natural position, playing corner since I was about three or four. So you go back to something you know and you always have a little bit more confidence." At the same time he's got renewed confidence as a safety, or watching Banks—the Butch to Broomfield's Sundance—making the move.

"We've got a great coaching staff, they moved me to safety so we could do things," Broomfield said. "And they moved me back to corner so we can play more to our strengths. When you can get all of us on the field and everybody is doing what they're supposed to I don't believe there is another secondary better than us."

That's good news for fans fretting the pending graduation of Broomfield, Banks, and Slay. There is even encouragement on the interceptions front. Last week Love got in position to pick off Arkansas' Tyler Wilson for the first pick of his own career.

For which he was appropriately ‘initiated' by his peers. "We've been joking with Love since he got here that he can't catch," related Broomfield. "He finally got one and he was excited and we were excited for him. (But) When he got to the sideline we're like ‘who was that, we know that wasn't Love, it couldn't have been Love'. He's been chilling out at practice this week, he thinks he's big-time now."

That's OK by Broomfield, as a bit of swagger is necessary to be a good Dog defensive back. And who knows, maybe this week will be the younger cornerback's chance to make his own career-defining pick play just as old #25 did way back when. "The same play, every fan comes up to me, I don't care what play I just made."

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