You are the recently hired offensive line coach at East Mississippi Community College, one of the premier football programs in the community college ranks. What are your thoughts about been here?
"It's fun to be around this group. We have great kids, great coaches and a great head coach, Coach Stephens. It's the premier junior college program in the country and it could even compete with some of the smaller (4-year) colleges. We have great support here from our administration, which includes our president Dr. Young, our vice-president Dr. Mayfield and our athletic director Mickey Stokes. They do a tremendous job supporting us."
Talk about being named the offensive line coach.
"This is my third year being a coach. I was a graduate assistant at Mississippi State. Last year, I was here as an assistant offensive line coach. Now, I'm taking over the fulltime duties as the offensive line coach. It's unbelievable because we have a great group of kids. We'll carry 10 offensive linemen. And everyone of my kids are fun to be around, very coachable."
Not only do you have great players but the facilities at East Mississippi Community College are exceptional for a community college.
"Gene, I think that is the most important thing when you talk about recruiting. There is no way anyone in the state of Mississippi and probably in the country who can compete with the facilities that we have. We have a brand new stadium with a jumbotron, a locker room that has 65 wooden lockers in it, and we have plans in the works to add to what we already have here. There are a lot of great things that are happening here in terms of facilities. We even have a great new student union. We also have over 48 uniform combinations. And we are a full Nike school, so everything here is top of the line. We won a national championship in 2011, a lot of state championships and a ton of football games here. All of this starts at the top. Our president and our head football coach are committed to making sure that this the number one destination for anyone that wants to go to school."
As far as your playing career was concerned, you had to earn everything that you got because you weren't that 6-foot-3 to 6-foot-5 offensive linemen. Despite that, you still earned a scholarship at Mississippi State, an SEC school. And you earned your degree from there. How much do you feel that helped you as far as being a coach?
"That is a great thing because I'm a guy who can tell them first-hand the importance of technique and fundamentals. I tell them here is a guy who had to learn those to make it to the SEC and play in SEC games because I wasn't the tallest or the strongest player. I tell them if you have great fundamentals and technique a lot of those things can be neutralized."
While at Mississippi State you were taught by a couple of really good offensive line coaches, J.B. Grimes and John Hevesy. How much have they helped you coaching-wise?
"Having those two guys to lean on heavily has been one of the highlights of my young career. I actually talked to Coach Grimes last week and I talked to Coach Hevesy just yesterday. They are two great coaches with two different styles that I can pick things up from and incorporate into what I want to teach."
Are you similar to one of those two coaches in regard to your style of coaching?
"I would say every offensive line coach is the same. An offensive line coach is an offensive line coach. Coach Grimes and Coach Hevesy are the same. And I'm me. I don't try to be Coach Grimes or Coach Hevesy. You have to coach with your own personality. I am a high energy guy who can get after the guys and I can have fun with them."
You played your college career at Mississippi State and in the SEC. How much did that help you going forward?
"I tell people this all the time, those are the five greatest years of my young life. Everybody there, from top to bottom, was a blessing to get to know. Coach Croom is a person that I still get chills thinking about what he meant to our program and what he meant to me personally. And Coach Mullen is another man who means a lot to me as a person and as a coach. I know I can call on him and Coach Croom anytime I want. And that means a lot to me. They are two completely different people, two completely different styles but two really, really great men. We, as Bulldogs, are really blessed that they represent our program."
What are your goals going forward, maybe be a head coach someday?
"Yeah, I don't think you coach if you don't want to be a head coach some day. And I definitely want to be a head coach some day. I don't know where and at what level. I just want to coach. I know in this profession you can easily get discouraged and easily lose track of what you really want, but I trust the process and I'm excited to see where it leads."
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.