Clayborn Pushing to Be Bulldog O Line Anchor

Jamaal Clayborn arrived at Mississippi State and saw action as a true freshman on the Bulldog offensive line. Now in his third season in Starkville, Clayborn is working hard to take over at center now that Dillon Day has moved on after four years as the starter. The preparations for this moment began last season and Clayborn appears to be settling in.

"It's going really well," Clayborn said. "I am excited to get spring practice started. We're looking pretty good. Coach (John) Hevesy does a great job coaching me up. I am getting ready to go play a game. Little league football was the last time I played center in a game, so I am excited about that."

To prepare for the spring practice sessions, Clayborn, a converted guard, put in some extra work to get his snaps back and his hands up.

"Coach Mullen, he asked me to come out here and snap everyday," Clayborn said. "He said if you want to be great, then it's something you have to do everyday. Coach (Rick) Court believes in 10,000 hours, so we come out here and snap. Dak (Prescott) did a great job coming out here with me and making me get better."

As the Bulldogs prepared for the Capital One Orange Bowl, they had an eye on the future and the position change for Clayborn.

"In bowl prep, they were giving the older guys a little break," Clayborn said. "It was a great time for me. Coach Hevesy texted me and said, 'You're going to center today'. It was a quick transition. Coach Hevesy told me not to worry about guard right now and just focus on center. I got a great feel for it. Bowl prep really moved me forward to this spring."

Mississippi State saw three senior starters on the offensive line last season. Despite losing that level of game experience, the Bulldogs return several regulars who saw action last season.

"We just contact those guys and they give us pointers," Clayborn said of the departed seniors. "We listen to what Coach Hevesy says. He is one of the best offensive line coaches in the country. He knows how to get us ready.

"(Dillon Day) told me that it's something that I have to work on everyday. It's muscle memory. He told me to keep doing it over and over and over and that I will get pretty good at it. He says to keep working on it."

Playing alongside Day these past two seasons allowed Clayborn to pick up on some of the protection calls and nuances of the center position.

"Playing guard helped out a lot," Clayborn said. "Justin Malone, Devon Desper, (Justin) Senior and Rufus Warren do a great job with communicating. We're buddies, so we communicate and that makes everything run a lot smoother."

The newest starting five on the offensive forward wall will look to carry on the tradition of their peers who have now moved on from college football.

"Ben, Gabe, Dillon, Blaine and all of those guys who came in before me did a great job of setting the foundation for us," Clayborn said. "They set a great example for us and it's up to us to take the next step.

"I am pleased with our guys. Dak does a great job and the coaching staff does a great job getting us together. We're all working to get better. We just want to continue to improve. I feel like with our communication and hard work, we will be ready to go this season."

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