This is your second year as a college coach. How are you different as a coach?
"I have definitely learned more about what the expectations are here, more what the expectations are from Coach Mullen, what he wants from our guys. Also, (I) know what (my guys) want from me. I think that is the main thing, learning your guys. Now, my guys know more what my expectations are. Learning the coaching staff has been easy."
You played in the NFL. You had the talent and work ethic to play there. A lot of the guys in college are talented but maybe not talented enough to play in the NFL. How do you, as a coach, adjust to that, knowing that the guys might be working as hard as they possibly can but they aren't quite as talented as you were?
"Who knows if you do or don't have the talent (to play in the NFL). In the college game you get more what you are looking for with your technique. Most of the time, when the guys get to college, you mold them into what you want them to be. Your coaching has to be exact. You can tell the guys where to plant their feet, where to have their eyes. That really allows them to become the player that they want to be. The pro game is not promised to anybody. But if (a guy goes) out there and had great, sound technique he can become a pretty productive player (no matter his talent level)."
Is that something that you brought with you after playing in the NFL - everybody has talent up there, but it was the ones with great technique and great work ethic that became the best players that they could be?
"That is our program (at Mississippi State). It's not just about making it to the pros, it's about being successful. If you work hard, lay it on the line day-in, day-out, you are going to be successful because you are not going to be afraid to fail. One thing about (football), when you are playing it you are going to have some failures but you know how to get back up and go out there and compete. That is what life is about (also). Football is as close to life as you can get because there are some ups and down, good time and bad times, some adversity. But one thing that I always talk to my guys about is if you work hard you can achieve whatever you want to."
One thing you didn't have to deal with as a NFL player is recruiting. That's a huge part of your job as a coach. What have you learned after being a recruiter for a year?
"I have some great mentors in Coach Hughes and Coach Turner. Those guys have been on the road and seen a lot. But like I tell the kids (that I'm recruiting), I don't care where you go, I just want you to go somewhere. That has always been my thing, even before I got into coaching, I care about the kids. Being from Mississippi myself, it helps me to understand what those kids are going through. Of course, I want them to come with me but I want to give them good advice about what to expect. And I think me being personable also helps out a lot."
The human part of recruiting is that you are offering a kid a scholarship, a kid that might not have been able to go to college otherwise due to finances, and then he signs with you. How proud does that make you feel, not as a coach, but as a person?
"That (part of it) is amazing. You look at a lot of kids that come from certain backgrounds, from certain situations, where college is not an option for them. Now, they are getting the option to be a college graduate, to be what their goals and dreams are for themselves.To evaluate a kid and tell him that we are extending an offer to him is a pretty big deal."
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 email@example.com.