How did you wind up at Mississippi State? You were a late addition to the team.
"I was. For awhile after juco I told myself that I really want to bear down and get serious with my studies so that I could do something that would make me successful in life.
"When I got through with baseball at Jones it may have been one or two weeks later when I had a burning in my chest. I knew there was no way that I could stop playing baseball. I called (Mississippi State pitching) Coach (Butch) Thompson and told him that I didn't know if he needed me but I wanted to come play. I was coming to school at State regardless. I told him if I could help him out to let me know. We communicated through that. He and (Mississippi State head) Coach (John) Cohen are great guys. They both will do whatever they can to help someone out. It's a cinderella story for me to be able to come here."
You grew up a State fan. Has this all been a dream come true for you?
"I really feel like it is. (We players) were at a Labor Day Camp a few weeks ago and we had to introduce ourselves to the campers. I introduced myself as Cole Barlow from Madison Central High School and I am a former camper. I was sitting there thinking if I could go back ten years when I was at the camp and someone told me that I would be playing for Mississippi State someday I wouldn't have believed them."
You are here playing and working out in preparation of playing in the fall scrimmages. What have the workouts been like at Mississippi State compared to the workouts that you are used to from high school and junior college?
"It is a lot more intense. You can't sit down. When you write on your workout sheet you can't sit down. You lean over and write on your workout sheet. There is no rest. There is constant moving, constant heart rate.
"People think it is hard in junior college. And it is but the workouts were not like they are here. My first week or two it seemed like every time I got halfway through with the workout and I looked up the room was kind of spinning from working so hard. You are grinding, trying to push through things, trying to be the best that you can for your team and the guys around you.
"But it has been awesome. It has been a dream come true to be able to be doing what I love at the school that I love."
When it did it get to the point where you were able to look up and things didn't appear to be spinning?
"It is kind of a mental game. Your body is going to tell you that you can't do it any longer. But you have to override that with what your mind thinks. They are pushing you to your max and even farther than your max. They are going to make sure that you can play in front of a crowd of 15,000 people. That is a different aspect of the game but they are both mental. It is definitely not just running and lifting weight, which is physical. It's all mental, mental toughness. You are fooling yourself if you think you can come into a place like this and the crowd is not going to play a part."
In high school you played in the field as well as pitched, didn't you?
"Yes sir, in high school I pitched and caught. I never could decide which one that I was better at. I really decided that my freshman year at Jones (Junior College). I was the backup catcher behind Tyler Graves, who is at Delta State now. I decided that if I was going to be great at one thing, then that was what I was going to have to do. And I felt working with Coach (Christian) Ostrander was a blessing, as has been working with Coach Thompson. They are two of the best pitching coaches in this region."
What improvements have you seen from yourself working with both of them?
"They definitely have two different pitching philosophies. At Mississippi State is more about perfecting your art. In juco it's kind of like here are your pitches, this is what you are good at, now let's take this broad spectrum and try to get hitters out. That doesn't fly here. Here, you take the two pitches that you are great at and you perfect them.
"When you have a pitching staff that is as good as this one is, if you can't throw a split-finger changeup there is somebody else that can. And they can do it better than I can. So, why would I take time away from something that I am great at doing to do something that somebody is already great at doing?"
What are you trying to perfect?
"I am a three-quarter sidearm pitcher. He's been really tough on me to stay at the string and low in the zone. He wants me to fight at staying at the string. I throw a fastball and a slider and he wants me to hit spots, not overpower, just hit my spots and do what I need to do to be successful so that I can help the ballclub."
What is the team chemistry like on this year's team?
"This is a team that is very close to each other. We have been here for two months now and I feel like I can call anyone of these guys up and tell them anything that I want to. The team chemistry is more powerful than any performance or any kind of skill or talent. It's the kind of team chemistry that will override those things."
Where do you think that team chemistry come from?
"Anytime you have to go through what we go through as far as workouts, moments when you are mentally weak and need somebody to pick you up and there is always somebody to do that for you, that builds the team chemistry."
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.