A Q&A With WR Coach Billy Gonzales

Mississippi State wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales talks with Gene's Page.

What have the practices been like the first few practices leading up to the Orange Bowl?
"Something that was kind of unique was toward the back end of the practices the seniors didn't practice. We did that so we could get extra reps with the young guys. That time is when you want to see some of the future leaders step up and lead vocally. To me, that was probably more important than anything else. You want to see guys step up and be leaders."

One of the young guys is De'Runnya Wilson. Are your surprised where he is in year-two?
"No. If you had asked me that after year-one I would have said yes because he was completely raw coming in. He still has a lot that we can improve but he has come a long way, and he is playing really well right now. The little things are always important to us. And if he can be fundamentally sound he can be everything that you want at the wide receiver position because he is big, fast, strong and powerful."

How did your two young guys do, Jamoral Graham and Jesse Jackson?
"Jamoral is Jamoral. He has great quickness and is wiry, really elusive, a great first step. Jesse is probably completely opposite of Jamoral. He is probably comparable to RoJo (Robert Johnson) right now in the fact that he is strong. Jesse is a great blocker, he's physical, doesn't shy down from anybody, really strong with strong hands. He has shown significant improvement. He just has had to get comfortable coming off of knee surgery. He had major knee surgery in high school. He's looking fast now and running by guys. It is back to normal for him."

In the few practices that you got to do more reps with the young guys did you see things that maybe you couldn't see during the season?
"More than anything for us it was getting those game reps and letting them get physical. But Smokey (Jamoral Graham) got a lot of reps during the season, so he is probably a little bit more ahead of Jesse. But Jesse got a fair amount of reps during the end of practices throughout the season. So, we just added a little bit more. For those guys, it is just about execution and learning the offense. They are both gifted enough to make a significant impact."

Going back to Jesse Jackson, you mentioned that he is a great blocker. Is he ahead of most freshmen that you have been around in regard to how well he blocks?
"I think he definitely is. He is strong and won't shy down from anybody but blocking has to do with what is in your heart. The effort you give is how well you block. My guys know that if you don't block, then you don't play."

Talk about Gabe Myles' progress.
"I consider Gabe a starter for us. I have seven guys that I consider starters. I will continue repping them going into this next game. They have all earned it. And Gabe is one of those guys because he has a great work ethic. He is excelling because he has such great attention to detail. I think he has a great future with us."

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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