A Q&A With MSU LB Coach Geoff Collins

Mississippi State linebackers coach Geoff Collins talks about the linebacker positions.

What is your overall view of the linebacker positions going into this season?
"I thought we had a good spring. The main thing we wanted to do was get six to eight players ready to play in the SEC this season. And I think we easily have that now. In the past, we haven't always had that but I think we have that now.

"We also have a lot of experience coming back. Matt Wells and (Ferlando) Bohanna played a lot. Zach Jackson played a lot and a bunch in the bowl game. (Deontae) Skinner has played a lot the past three seasons. And Benardrick (McKinney) had the season he had last year. Having all those guys back is huge."

Talk about each player individually and what you like about each.
"Deontae Skinner doesn't even have to think about the defense anymore. He just gets lined up, gives the call, then plays without having to process the information. He can do that because he knows the defense so well. He has stepped into a leadership role going into his senior year. I feel like if guys play and work like him then we will be ok.

"Matt Wells had a good spring. We've moved him around a lot and he finally felt comfortable playing out in space, covering slot receivers. We had him playing man-to-man with Jameon (Lewis) and Brandon Holloway in the spring. And he did some good things (against them).

"Ferlando Bohanna played every position every day during spring ball. He is a very intelligent kid who has a high motor and high character. We are excited to see him step up and play a lot more.

"Benardrick had a great freshman season for us. He had 102 tackles, was a consensus All-American, All-SEC. He is the prototypical size and speed that we want to play here at inside backer. We just need to get him to assert himself more as a leader because everybody feeds off of him due to the type person he is.

"Zach Jackson played a lot, especially late. He played on every special team last year. He developed a lot during the spring and became more comfortable with the defense. He is a very fast kid who plays with a mean streak.

"The two Brown brothers (Beniquez Brown and Richie Brown) had really good springs. The two scrimmages that we had in the stadium Beniquez Brown was arguably the best player on the field. But the other 13 practices, there were things that he needed to continue to improve on. But when he got on the field in a big-time environment he showed how well he can play. Now, we just have to get him to do that on a consistent basis, day-in and day-out, regardless where he is. Richie Brown had a good spring. About halfway through the spring we finally got him to stop thinking and just play. He's a really good player but at first he was trying to think too much because he wanted to do everything just right. Finally, he decided to just play and showed that he is a really good player."

You have a very talented freshman coming in, Dezmond Harris. Talk about him.
"We are excited about him. He has tremendous athletic ability. He came to our camp last summer and he was the best athlete among all of the linebackers that we had on campus. And we had about every four and five star linebacker on campus at one time or the other. He had really never played linebacker before. But Benardrick McKinney hadn't, Cam Lawrence hadn't. And they ended up being very good linebackers."

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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