MSU Coach Tony Hughes Interview, June 18th

Mississippi State safeties coach Tony Hughes talks one-on-one with Gene's Page about his position players.

What are your thoughts about your safeties going into the upcoming football season?
"We are excited. We've got a lot of experience at the safeties positions. We have five kids that are currently on the depth chart that played for us last year. And all of them played at times in big games so it's not like we spotted a kid here and spotted a kid there.

"We are excited to get Jay (Hughes) back because he has a ton of experience and was one of our better players prior to his injury. He is 100% and back working with the team.

"We also have Kendrick Market who stepped in last year and ended up starting for us just about every game the entire season. He was a very productive player that made some really big plays in crucial situations.

"We have Justin Cox, who is a senior, move over to safety. He is one of the best athletes on the team.

"We also have two sophomores who complement each other very well, Kivon Coman and Deonte Evans. Both of them played extensively in the bowl game.

"With those five guys, we feel like we have a good group who has experience and are tough. We are excited about those five guys coming into the fall."

How important is the safety position to the MSU defense?
"The safety position is crucial to our defense because it is like the quarterback on offense, it makes all of the calls on our defense. For years, Nickoe Whitley was a guy who could get people lined up and do things the right way and execute our defense at a high level.

"Jay was a high school quarterback at one time, Kendrick was a high school quarterback, Deonte Evans was, Justin Cox was at one time. So, all of those guys have those characteristics of leadership, toughness, hard work, qualities like that."

For you to feel like your safety positions accomplished what they needed to do this upcoming season, what do you think needs to happen this fall?
"I think that goes back to the philosophy of our program. It's not so much about the position itself. We are a work ethic team that is unselfish, pay attention to the details, stress fundamentals, do things the right way on and off the field. And, for the most part, our kids buy into that type program. So, for our positions, we try to follow the guidelines of our football program. If you do that at each position over and over, then you will become a fundamentally sound football player."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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